Across the country, Americans are hurting. From big cities to the industrial heartland to our rural communities, the slumping economy has manifested in the form of shuttered businesses, disappearing jobs, bankruptcies, foreclosures and an increased sense of anxiety about our collective future.
To revive the American dream, we need to rebuild our economy on a sound foundation – one that puts people back to work, contributes to long-term prosperity, rebuilds our communities, and protects our environment.
The good news is that President-elect Obama has pledged to take America down a path that achieves all of these goals – the path of clean energy. Our president-elect has called for an economic stimulus package “building wind farms and solar panels, fuel-efficient cars and the alternative energy technologies that can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and keep our economy competitive in the years ahead.”
Such an investment is our best chance to work our way out of our current economic troubles, while building a stronger, more self-reliant and environmentally responsible America. A University of Massachusetts study released by Environment Virginia this fall found that a $100 billion investment in clean energy infrastructure would create 2 million jobs, 56,459 of them in Virginia.
Clean, American energy is not some distant dream. We have the technology, the tools and the know-how to use energy more wisely and to get more of our energy from clean, renewable sources. What’s more, clean energy can be produced right here at home, creating new jobs in all sectors of the nation’s economy – many that can’t be outsourced.
Americans and Virginians are beginning to see the benefits of clean energy in their local economies.
- Good paying manufacturing jobs are being created all across Virginia, such as in Mechanicsville where the Dometic Environmental Corporation has upwards of 250 employees manufacturing AC and heating equipment. This equipment cools trucks without having to idle the engine, creating the potential to eliminate 11 million tons of carbon emissions from trucks across the US every year and save on fuel costs.
• Suppliers of automotive glass in Toledo are replacing flagging orders from the auto industry with new technologies for solar panels.
• A Danish company, Vestas Energy is expanding its wind turbine manufacturing facilities in Colorado to create 2,500 jobs and about $600 million in investment.
Every part of the country has the opportunity to benefit from a transition to a new energy future. But to turn this trickle of green jobs into a torrent of new economic opportunities, we need to act boldly – and fast.
America’s dependence on fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal is stalling our economy, threatening our security, and fueling global warming. Burning oil, coal, and gas to power our homes, businesses and transportation subjects the lifeblood of our economy to wild fluctuations in price and is responsible for 80 percent of U.S. global warming pollution. Should we remain on our present course, the energy challenges facing the United States will only grow in magnitude at a time when our economy is more fragile than any time since the Great Depression.
With a strong policy commitment to clean energy and the investment to match, we can:
- Repower America by making our economy more energy-efficient and getting 100 percent of our electricity from clean, renewable sources.
- Refuel America by cutting our consumption of oil in half – nearly as much as we currently import from all other nations.
- Rebuild America and create 5 million new jobs in dozens of different occupations in every part of the country.
With new political leadership in the White House and larger pro-environment majorities in the House and Senate, we finally have the opportunity to move a smart pro-active agenda to address our energy crisis and global warming.
When Congress takes up new business in January, addressing our economy will be first on the docket. We look forward to working with President-elect Obama to make clean energy a cornerstone of any economic stimulus.