Today, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that instructs the EPA to rewrite the Clean Power Plan, lifts the moratorium on federal coal leasing and limits on methane from fracking operations, and initiates a process to reconsider the Social Cost of Carbon and the National Environmental Policy Act guidance on climate pollution.
These actions, as our executive director Margie Alt pointed out, are “sheer reckless folly” at a time when we need to double down on our efforts to combat climate change.
We know that in order to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, like sea level rise and severe wildfires, we must rapidly transition to 100 percent renewable energy. Climate experts say that the U.S. and the rest of the world need to reach this point by 2050 at the latest. By favoring dirty, climate-polluting fossil fuels, this administration is imperiling the planet for us, our kids and grand-kids.
But while the president’s ill-advised rollbacks will dominate today’s news, there is a different, far more inspiring story that more accurately reflects our vision, and reinforces what we already know: Clean power is the future, and we’ll continue encouraging states and local governments to go big on renewable energy to pick up the slack.
The Solar Foundation released new data today that breaks down solar jobs in every state by county, congressional district and metro area. Like never before, we are able to see the impact of the nation’s solar jobs boom at the local level.
The new numbers come from the Foundation’s 2016 solar jobs census, which shows that nationwide, solar employs more than 260,000 Americans. Additionally, solar jobs grew in 44 states in 2016.
The growth in solar jobs shows the growth of solar itself. In 2016, solar broke the annual record for installed capacity by nearly double, and finished the year as the number one source of new electricity added to the grid. In total, the U.S. has 1.3 million solar installations that power over 6.5 million American homes.
Increasing solar energy in the U.S. means immediate action to combat climate change. Compared to coal and natural gas, solar produces 96 percent and 91 percent less global warming pollution, respectively — even when you take production and transportation emissions into account.
More solar also means action to reduce air and water pollution, which will drastically improve public health. Currently, pollution from electric power plants results in 50,000 deaths every year. It’s time to finally put dirty energy in the rear view mirror.
Alongside reductions in global warming emissions and pollution, the latest Solar Foundation jobs numbers are icing on the cake.
Despite the Trump administration’s attempts to promote fossil fuels at the expense of a clean energy future, they can’t stop its progress. As our most successful climate programs face attacks at the federal level, it is incumbent on states and local communities to champion clean, renewable energy so that we act on climate before it’s too late.