Friday, June 3, 2011

Want Jobs? Go Green!

(Also at DKos)

Before I hear any more about "job killing enviro-nazis" and "myths of manmade global warming hurting our economy", view this.

Need I say more? Need I go on? OK, I will.

How many of us are thinking twice about our summer travel plans? How many of us are worrying about how much more expensive it is today to drive to work and/or school? And our addiction to fossil fuels isn't what's hurting our economy?

But before I go further, get a load of this.

New York Times columnist Tom Friedman has been talking about this concept for a while, arguing that a gasoline tax “would trigger a shift in buying and investment” in clean energy here in the U.S. — a move that would provide a foundation for a reinvigorated economy and reduce Americans’ dependence on oil, particularly from foreign sources.

But despite the fact that little is being done about it legislatively, the general consensus is that America’s dependence on oil also harms U.S. national security. “Bringing down consumption of imported oil is very much in the interest of national security,” noted retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton last month. And indeed, even the U.S. military is acknowledging this reality and taking action [...]

“There are a lot of profound reasons for doing this, but for us at the core it’s practical,” said Ray Mabus, the Navy secretary and a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Yet the Saudis have an obvious interest in keeping America — and the West — addicted to its oil supply. And luckily for them, their mouthpiece in the U.S. gets generous air time to make that case. And seeing that bin Talal is also one of Fox News’s largest shareholders, perhaps he’s rubbing off on some of the network’s most high profile employees. “I love that smell of emissions,” Sarah Palin said this weekend.

We're seeing continued high gas prices as The Middle East is in turmoil. At the same time, the national unemployment rate is still painfully high at 9.1%. What we're doing now really isn't working. Yet even though our addiction to fossil fuels is now coming back to bite us, the Congressional Republicans' proposed federal budget would only worsen this if enacted.

Even business leaders are horrified by this!

Why? Simple. They're not stupid. They know that there is potential for 4.2 million new green collar jobs in the next 30 years, and that the global demand for bold solutions to the climate crisis may actually provide lucrative opportunities in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

If green jobs are the future, then my home state is at the center of it all. Nevada has the highest unemployment rate in the country, yet we also have immense opportunities to take the climate bull by the horns and actually revive our economy with new jobs.

Of course, it helps that we have the Senate Majority Leader here working nonstop to bring more green projects here to Nevada and foster more green jobs efforts across the nation. However, our other Senator doesn't seem to be as interested in putting his own people back to work.

[Senator Dean] Heller [R-Fossil Fuel Industry] voted to end Department of Energy loan guarantees for clean energy projects and voted in favor of tax breaks for big oil companies. [Rep. Shelley] Berkley [D-Las Vegas] supported the loan guarantees and opposed the incentives.

Without loan guarantees, renewable energy projects such as a solar-thermal plant being built in Tonopah would be shuttered, Berkley said. The Tonopah project will create 600 jobs.

Berkley said Heller instead sided with oil companies to approve lucrative tax breaks and incentives for the industry.

"Do big oil companies need more tax subsidies?" Berkley asked. "I don't think so. What we need to be doing is putting our resources into creating a whole economy based on green jobs." [...]

"Dean Heller chose who he stands with. He doesn't stand with middle-class Nevadans," electrician Mark Williams said.

"Clean energy is not so much about the environment but (about) property owners saving money and creating jobs," energy efficiency contractor Chris Cadwell added.

In so many ways, the political battles here in Nevada over green jobs reflect the larger national debate over what to do on climate change and job creation. We can no longer continue living in denial. Climate change is real, is happening at an alarming pace, and is emerging as probably the greatest national security challenge of our time. At the same time, our economic problems are also real, and we can not avoid taking real action to invest in our economy and create more jobs.

So if we really want to avoid "double dip recession" and chronically high unemployment, and if we want to finally get off the sidelines and take the lead on pushing real climate solutions, we know what we need to do. So when will we do it?

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