In a partnership that illustrates the powerful currents at work in today’s environmental movement, the United Steel Workers labor union has joined with the American Wind Energy Association and BlueGreen Alliance, an organization that includes other labor unions, the Sierra Club and the National Resources Defense Council, to produce a blueprint for new green jobs in the wind power industry.
In pushing hard for green jobs, this diverse labor-industry-environmental group puts itself squarely on the side of the U.S. military’s push for alternative energy in the interests of a strong national defense. It also joins a growing number of leading U.S companies calling for national climate legislation and green jobs, in yet another sign that the dominance of fossil fuels is rapidly coming to a close.
The report is titled Winds of Change: A Manufacturing Blueprint for the Wind Industry. Basically the report details how the wind energy industry has been growing and creating new jobs even without all of the advantages accorded to fossil fuels, such as billion-dollar subsidies and supportive national policies. More support for alternative energy has been forthcoming from the Obama administration, and the report calls ramping up those efforts through, among other things, a stronger Renewable Electricity Standard of 25%, more tax credits for the renewable energy industry, and strong national climate legislation. All of these measures would be geared toward creating more jobs in the U.S. wind industry, rather than shipping in components from overseas.
Wind Power and Local Communities
The BP oil spill in the Gulf, poverty and poor health throughout the Appalachian coal mining regions, and the hazards of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania all clearly demonstrate the obvious: fossil fuel harvesting is a high-risk endeavor for local communities. A new wind farm in Missouri points up the contrasts: rather than destroying the local environment, the turbines sit on land leased on existing farms that continue to operate as always. The wind farm pays local taxes that support schools and roads, creates new green jobs, and boosts civic pride in its host county. In a similar vein, the U.S. EPA is undertaking a major campaign to reclaim former industrial sites for wind and solar power installations that create new green jobs in local communities.
Powerful Forces at Work for Wind Power
The environmental battles of past years were as complex as any, but on the surface they seemed simple: groups of citizens duked it out with powerful U.S. industries and achieved some amazing successes despite the mismatch. Now nothing is simple, not even on the surface, and the match is far more even. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is facing open revolt among some of its leading members due to its obstruction of climate legislation, and practically the entire U.S. electric utility sector is investing in more solar energy research and other alternative energy. Add to that the sustainability commitment of the entire U.S. military, as aptly described by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and you can see why fossil fuels are on the verge of marginalization.
Image: Wind farm by foxtwo on flickr.com.