As Congress and the presidential candidates continue to debate America’s energy future, a new report released today by Environment Colorado shows that Colorado could gain over 30,000 new jobs and billions in investment under a national green economic recovery program, which will strengthen the economy, increase energy independence, and fight global warming.
Keith Hay, energy advocate at Environment Colorado stated, “Green jobs are great jobs. This new report shows what Coloradans are experiencing; investing in clean energy is a win-win solution. In fact, Colorado wind has brought almost 3,000 jobs to the state this year alone. A national shift to clean energy will mean more jobs and more green dollars for Colorado.”
The report, Green Recovery – A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy, analyzes the economic gains from a two year, $100 billion green investment program. This type of investment is a component of a broader clean energy strategy to create a low carbon economy and reduce global warming pollution, including establishing a strong cap-and-trade program. The green investment program could be paid for by proceeds from auctions of carbon permits under such a program.
“Reports like Green Recovery show that our energy and environmental problems are linked and that Congress should address these problems with comprehensive solutions. Since 2004 Colorado’s investment in renewable energy has brought over 900 new, high paying jobs in solar alone. Solving our energy and environmental problems with an aggressive green recovery program will put more Americans to work and put America on course to revitalize its economy at a time when many Americans are hurting,” said Jim Welch, President of Bella Energy and President of the Colorado Solar Energy Industry Association.
The package outlined in the report illustrates the potential for clean energy – specifically green infrastructure investments – to create new jobs and strengthen the economy. The plan calls for investing in six green infrastructure priorities: retrofitting buildings to improve energy efficiency, expanding mass transit and freight rail, constructing “smart” electrical grid transmission systems, wind power, solar power, and next-generation biofuels.
In addition to creating two million jobs nationwide and over 30,000 in Colorado over two years, the $100 billion initial investment in our clean energy future would:
- Reduce Colorado’s unemployment rate to 4.1 percent from 5 percent(calculated within the framework of U.S. labor market conditions in July 2008).
- Bolster employment especially in construction and manufacturing. Construction employment has fallen from 8 million to 7.2 million over the past two years due to the housing bubble collapse. The Green Recovery program can, at the least, bring back these lost 800,000 construction jobs.
- Create nearly four times more jobs than spending the same amount of money within the oil industry and 300,000 more jobs than a similar amount of spending directed toward household consumption.
- Create roughly triple the number of good jobs — paying at least $16 dollars an hour — as spending the same amount of money within the oil industry.
The green economic recovery program addresses the immediate need to boost our struggling economy and accelerate the adoption of a comprehensive clean-energy agenda through a $100 billion investment that would combine tax credits and loan guarantees for private businesses along with direct public-investment spending.
“It’s time that our leaders in Washington recognize that choosing clean energy is choosing both jobs and the environment. We need a bold new energy plan for America that addresses global warming and revitalizes our economy with clean energy,” Hay concluded.
The green recovery program investments would fund:
- $50 billion for tax credits. This would assist private businesses and homeowners to finance both commercial and residential building retrofits, as well as investments in renewable-energy systems.
- $46 billion in direct government spending. This would support public building retrofits, the expansion of mass transit, freight rail and smart electrical-grid systems, and new investments in renewable energy.
- $4 billion for federal loan guarantees. This would underwrite private credit that is extended to finance building retrofits and investments in renewable energy.
The report was written by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, under commission by the Center for American Progress (CAP) and released by a coalition of labor and environmental groups. The authors of the report are Robert Pollin, Heidi Garrett-Peltier, James Heintz, and Helen Scharber of PERI.
For the complete report findings go to www.peri.umass.edu/green_recovery