Recently, President Donald Trump stood in front of a brand new Boeing Dreamliner in South Carolina and told his audience, “We’re here today to celebrate American engineering and American manufacturing. We’re also here today to celebrate jobs. Jobs.”
While the president consistently talks about creating jobs in America, our clean energy sector is busier than ever producing them: 3 million and counting, according to new government data.
These jobs include 2 million workers making homes, buildings, appliances and other products more energy-efficient. That saves families and businesses money.
Another nearly 500,000 Americans work in clean power generation, including wind and solar power; 200,000 more work in advanced grid and biofuels; and yet another 200,000 are employed in clean transportation such as hybrid, electric and fuel cell vehicles.
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This clean energy boom is a shining light on the American jobs and manufacturing landscape.
But Trump has promised to gut the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan aimed at cleaning up dirty air that makes us sick and drives climate change. In doing so, the president would be throttling the strongest engine of job growth in our country: clean energy.
We can’t afford to lose momentum in what is a key economic play of our lifetime: the global race for clean energy.
That’s why Sen. Claire McCaskill was right when she recently rejected Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA. She stood up for the interest of the people, environment and economy of Missouri.
It was clear before the vote that Pruitt wasn’t right for the job. As Oklahoma attorney general, he’d sued the EPA more than a dozen times, often joining with fossil fuel interests, to block health and clean air protections, including the Clean Power Plan — which also will propel clean energy.
Recently, the Oklahoma attorney general’s office, on court orders, released thousands of emails showing how deep Pruitt’s ties run to the industries he’s now entrusted to police. Pruitt so ingrained himself with energy companies that they referred to him and his allies as “the fossil energy AGs.”
The emails and his record show a public official using his office as a platform to advocate on the fossil fuel industry’s behalf. That doesn’t instill much confidence that — now that the Senate has confirmed him as EPA administrator — he’ll abandon his fossil fuel allies to advocate instead for clean energy.
We’ll be looking for McCaskill to continue looking out for us in that arena because the national trends of clean energy growth are underway in Missouri, too.
Today, more than 52,400 Missourians work in clean energy jobs, mainly in energy efficiency and clean vehicles, according to Clean Jobs Midwest, a comprehensive survey by the Clean Energy Trust, which includes Environmental Entrepreneurs, a clean energy advocacy group.
More than 80 percent of the clean energy businesses in Missouri employ fewer than 25 people, illustrating the important role small businesses play in the clean energy sector. And Missouri has the highest projected clean energy growth rate in the 12 Midwest states surveyed, an estimated 8.3 percent.
Missouri could reach that horizon by promoting more energy efficiency measures and action to create jobs installing wind towers, solar panels and solar energy systems. About 4,200 Missourians are employed now in these fields. Many more could be.
This is why we’re grateful McCaskill stood against Pruitt’s nomination, and why we know she’ll hold him accountable to treat all sources of energy fairly, especially clean energy and the good-paying jobs it engenders. Continuing to do so will protect our future and the prosperous lives we hope for our children.
Bob Solger is the founder of Solar Design Studio, based in Platte City.