The Green Jobs Speech Obama Should Give

Flowers in Balboa Park California

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The American people want jobs and economic growth. Investing in clean energy, clean air and clean water will help to make that a reality. But in the back and forth about jobs and environmental protection, that simple fact has gotten lost in the political shuffle.  Here are the facts about cleaner, greener jobs – the kind of jobs that President Obama should call for in his speech before Congress on Thursday night:

• Clean Energy Jobs: The clean energy jobs sector currently employs more than 2.7 million people, with the promise of much more with modest investments. Those 2.7 million jobs already outpace the fossil fuel industry, and that’s without the promise of growth in the industry in the decades ahead.  While any new and developing industry faces bumps in the road as it grows and matures, the future of green and clean technology has never looked brighter. For example, The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers announced in June that solar panels could become the most cost-effective electricity source within a decade, even challenging fossil fuels. If America doesn't choose to lead in the development of clean renewable technologies, we will become followers to the rest of the world.

• Clean Air Jobs: The Clean Air Act, which Congressional Republicans are proposing to dismantle, has a nearly 8:1 return on investment because of better public health and new jobs. Through 2015, these important environmental safeguards will create 1.45 million new jobs. In a time when over 9% of Americans are unemployed, we need to be focusing on how to sustain job creation, not kill it.

• Climate Adaptation Jobs: Pushing back on the anti-climate agenda being espoused from the oil industry and others can also put America back to work and protect communities as well.  Severe weather – like tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and droughts – are likely to be the norm, rather than the exception as climate change continues unabated.  Putting people to work restoring and adapting lands and waters for climate change helps protect communities physically and financially.  According to a study by University of Oregon, between 13-29 jobs could be created or retained and over $2.1 million in total economic activity generated for every $1 million invested on restoration.

• Recreation Jobs: America’s public lands are the heart of an outdoor recreation that provides more than $289 billion directly to the American economy. According to a study by the Outdoor Industry Association, this investment yields more than $730 billion dollars into the economy through recreation, tourism and jobs. Investing in the outdoors supports 6.5 million jobs and is responsible for over 8% of the US economy. The Republicans in Congress are working tirelessly to gut the agencies responsible for this industry, like the Forest Service and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Preserving and investing in public lands is synonymous with economic growth and getting Americans back to work.

Now is not the time to back down on the promise of clean air, clean energy and land preservation. The President’s speech on Thursday night is an opportunity to spell out the truth about clean, green jobs and their promise for economic growth.

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