Nearly 140 clean energy projects were announced in the first quarter of 2012, and these projects could create up to 46,000 jobs across the United States. These findings come from a new report by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), and show green jobs contributing to the U.S. economy across a wide geographic and industrial base.
The analysis is based on 300 separate project and job announcements from companies, cities, and organizations. E2 is a national coalition of business leaders who promote environmental policy, and the group is affiliated with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Diverse Project Announcements
New clean energy projects were announced in 42 states, with two or more projects in more than half of those states. Roughly two-thirds of the jobs announcements came from 10 states that have seen significant overall job and manufacturing losses during the economic recession. Connecticut led all states in total jobs announced, while California led all states in total projects announced.
Surprisingly, most clean energy project announcements were made in Republican-leaning congressional districts. New projects and jobs were forecast across 101 congressional districts, with 70 in districts represented by Republicans and 54 in districts represented by Democrats (13 announcements spanning multiple congressional districts).
New project announcements were also diverse across the clean energy industry. Renewable energy technologies, including wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal, were responsible for 68 projects and 18,000 jobs. Clean tech manufacturing, including electric vehicles, solar panels, and wind turbines, constituted 35 projects and 10,000 jobs.
Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?
The E2 report is certainly good news for U.S. workers and overall transition to a clean energy economy, but future gains are in jeopardy because of uncertain government policy. Many of the project and job announcements in E2’s report were made possible because of federal incentives, which have helped keep clean energy investment economical, even in the face of America’s shale gas glut.
Without this support, it may be difficult for clean energy to sustain its momentum. As a recent Brookings/Breakthrough Institute report revealed, federal clean tech spending is forecast to drop 75 percent from its $44.3 billion high in 2009, to a projected $11 billion by 2014 without Congressional action.
But, while federal spending may decline, a combination of more efficient state-level funding programs may help blunt the overall impact on clean energy. A January report found clean energy funds in 21 states generate $500 million per year in direct project financing support, and when combined with state university systems, that can be a powerful driver of research and development.
The E2 report is yet another piece of evidence in the power of a clean energy economy, and underlines the importance of investment in sustainable jobs. Green jobs employed 3.1 million Americans in 2010, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This figure represented 2.4 percent of all jobs nationwide, and dwarfs the 783,000 jobs in oil, gas, and coal-mining industries.
Photos courtesy of Environmental Entrepreneurs
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