The New Energy Economy and Green Jobs

The following op-ed ran in the Denver Post yesterday by John Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress and former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, and Timothy Wirth, president of the UN Foundation, who represented Colorado in the U.S. House and Senate from 1975 to 1992.

The key paragraphs recognize that energy is the essential issue facing this country:

The Democratic Party platform recognizes the energy opportunity in its section on “Investing in American Competitiveness” — but it does not go far enough. The size and urgency of this task require a president willing to make it the top domestic priority in the White House — not pigeonholed as an energy initiative or environmental initiative or even as a security initiative, but made the centerpiece of his economic agenda. Indeed, it will demand that the president refocus the mission and responsibility of all relevant government agencies and convene them in a new National Energy Council in the White House.

The success of this year’s candidates and next year’s elected leaders will rise and fall on how they address the energy issue. Those who convey the scale and scope — and opportunity — of transforming our energy economy will succeed.

Here is the rest of piece.

As leaders of the Democratic Party gather to nominate their presidential ticket, they confront an economy in trouble. Voters are worried about the relentless shocks that have buffeted the nation: falling home prices, loan foreclosures, and bank failures; a weaker dollar that has cut consumers’ buying power, even as prices spike for gas and food and steel; layoffs in banking and construction and manufacturing.

In the background loom even larger threats to our prosperity: our dependence on oil, which puts our national security at risk, and the accelerating buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, already changing the climate in fundamental and unpredictable ways.

Americans are feeling personal pain and rising anxiety about where all this is headed. They want a new vision for the economic revitalization of the nation and American leadership in the world. The next president will have a precious moment to point the way and mobilize the country and the international community toward a brighter future. At the heart of this opportunity is energy, remaking the vast energy systems that power the nation and the world.

Tuesday, energy and climate change will be the subject of a day-long Rocky Mountain Roundtable organized by the Denver 2008 Convention Executive Committee. The three sessions put this subject into the right context: “The Business of Climate Change,” “Energy in a Carbon-Constrained Economy,” and “The New Energy Economy.”

The technologies we need to begin this economic transformation already exist today, and the dollars will flow if we just change the rules of the energy game, rules that have favored the old ways of doing business with tax breaks, regulatory incentives, and lip service to alternatives, and stop using the atmosphere as a garbage dump for our emissions. As a first step, we must cap our emissions and put a price on carbon. The investments that will result from this decision will be a powerful stimulus for economic growth, competitive advantage, and new jobs — good jobs in manufacturing, installation, and research, entry-level jobs and high-wage jobs alike.

Those “green” jobs will be in the manufacturing sector, producing wind turbines, solar thermal power plants, biofuels refineries, and plug-in electric hybrid vehicles. They will be in the building sector, working in partnership with utilities to reduce the energy waste in every home, business, school and hospital in America. They will be modernizing the electric power grid to make it more reliable and resilient, capturing emissions from our power plants to enable the clean use of fossil fuels, upgrading urban transit, and building high-speed rail to provide alternatives to our roads and highways.

We have seen results like this in Colorado already, thanks to the state’s leadership on renewable energy, through enactment of a renewable portfolio standard and most recently on Aug. 15 with the announcement by Vestas, the Danish wind turbine company, that it will build two more factories here, adding 1,350 new jobs to bring its total in the state to 2,450.

4 Responses to The New Energy Economy and Green Jobs

  1. Kate says:

    I came across this blog and was so happy to find a category called “Solutions.” So far, the environmental field has been filled with a lot of despair- trying to get people to believe that there needs to be change has been challenging, and actually finding the means of change has been equally difficult. We are making progress, and it is blogs like that that bring us hope.

    The current state of economy is the best time for change- not the worst. People are so unsure of change, but if what we have been doing is still getting us in economic disaster, then why not try something new? These green jobs will be great for our economy.

    Our conflict in the Middle East and oil prices are even more reason to try something new, but that does not mean drilling for oil in Alaska (which we are not even sure if there is a substantial amount.) We should be moving away from oil not only because the carbon emissions hurt our environment, but also because we are dependent on something that is running out.

  2. Kate says:

    I came across this blog online, and I was so happy to see an Environmental blog labeled “solutions.” In the environmental field these days, it seems like every topic is one of despair- just getting people involved and educated on the subject is hard enough, but coming up with solutions to the problems is equally hard. These days, of all times, are the best for trying something new. Our system has led us to current economic failure, and we depend on a form of energy that is not only disappearing, but causing conflict. If those are not signs that is a good time to change, I do not know what is.


  3. Kate says:

    Oops I thought it didn’t work. Can someone delete one of those? I obviously got tired the second time around haha.

  4. David B. Benson says:

    Kate — I think both a fine as they stand. :-)