June 11, 2009

Report: US Should Pass Plan For Green Economy

A Pew report said on Wednesday that the United States should pass a comprehensive energy plan to make sure the number of jobs in environmental fields will keep rising as they did in the decade to 2007, Reuters reported.

The Pew Charitable Trusts study, which aims to set a baseline to judge how well public policies and investments foster green jobs in the future, said U.S. clean economy jobs grew at rate of 9.1 percent from 1998 to 2007 to 770,385, faster than overall jobs during the decade.

For instance, the traditional energy economy of oil, natural gas, and coal employed about 1.2 million workers in 2007.

Lori Grange, an expert on state policies at the Pew Charitable Trusts, said the report points to trends that show a very promising future for the clean energy economy.

"This sector is poised for explosive growth," she added.

The report, which can be found at www.pewtrusts.org/cleanenergyeconomy, is in line with President Barack Obama's desire to create millions of "green collar" jobs.

However, most experts say that more and wider policies are needed in order to create such a work force.

Phyllis Cuttino, the director of the U.S. global warming campaign at the Pew environment group, said the U.S. stimulus bill has made important investments in spurring economic recovery and protecting the environment.

The report noted that even with the recession, innovation in the clean economy should continue to rise due to venture capital investments, the cost of fossil fuels, and state and federal policies such as the stimulus bill.

But Cuttino said it has to be paired with additional federal policies that support and speed the transition to a clean energy economy.

"Congress and the Obama administration must work together to pass comprehensive global warming and energy legislation," she said.

Over $60 billion for clean energy is included in Obama's stimulus bill, with $11 billion to modernize the power grid to move energy from renewable energy projects to the cities and $2 billion in grants to develop better car batteries.

A comprehensive federal energy plan that would launch a "cap and trade" market on greenhouse gases and national mandates that would force power companies to generate a portion of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar power has also received support from the President.

The House of Representatives is currently working on an energy bill that would create such a market and mandates, but it may have a tough time in the Senate.

Some states that were early leaders in forming so-called "renewable portfolio standards" that require generation from renewables have also been some of the best in drawing green jobs, the report said.

With more than 125,000 workers, California led the country in the number of clean economy jobs in 2007, while Texas had nearly 56,000 such workers that year and Pennsylvania had nearly 39,000.