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Rob Perks’s Blog

It's the Economy, Stupid: U.S. Can Cash in on Clean Energy Legislation

Rob Perks

Posted October 28, 2009 in Solving Global Warming

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So, we know the 'hidden costs' of dirty energy top $120 billion a year for Americans.  But what about the benefits of clean energy?

Try this on for size: new analysis shows that adopting comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation could create up to 1.9 million new jobs, increase annual household income by up to $1,175 per year, and boost GDP by up to $111 billion.

The important thing is that nearly all states stand to gain economically from strong federal energy and climate policy, according to this study by the University of California, University of Illinois, and Yale University.  That's because clean energy provides substantial opportunities to grow state economies by promoting energy saving and domestic renewable energy alternatives.  Indeed, a central finding of the research is that comprehensive federal climate policy with strong provisions for energy efficiency and renewables will lead to great economic reward.

Take Maryland, for example, where I currently live.  Between 2010 and 2020, the anaylsis indicates that investments in clean energy resulting from federal climate legisation would:

  • Create between 34 thousand and 71 thousand jobs -- on top of a baseline increase of 466 thousand jobs over the same timeframe.
  • Increase Maryland's real Gross Domestic Product by $1.7 billion to $3.5 billion more than without legislation -- that's a 0.6% to 1.2% increase on top of baseline growth of 29.2%.
  • Lead to average real household income that is $1,022 to $2,172 higher per year than without the legislation.

What about my home state of Virginia?  Clean energy investments would:

  • Create between 25 thousand and 50 thousand jobs -- on top of a baseline increase of 625 thousand jobs over the same timeframe.
  • Increase Virginia's real Gross Domestic Product by $1.3 billion to $3.2 billion more than without legislation -- that's a 0.3% to 0.7% increase on top of baseline growth of 28.9%.
  • Lead to average real household income that is $554 to $1,325 higher per year than without the legislation.

And how about Montana, where I went to graduate school?  Clean energy investments stemming from federal climate policy would:

  • Create between 5 thousand and 13 thousand jobs -- on top of a baseline increase of 76 thousand jobs over the same timeframe.
  • Increase Montana's real Gross Domestic Product by $0.1 billion to $0.5 billion more than without legislation -- that's a 0.4% to 1.4% increase on top of baseline growth of 26.9%.
  • Lead to average real household income that is $599 to $1,736 higher per year than without the legislation.

I could go on and on for each state but you get the drift.  Better yet, check out this handy map depicting job creation via clean energy for every state.

Bottom-line: For the sake of our economy -- not to mention national security and the health of the planet -- Congress should pass comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation. 

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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