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Rolling Back the Clean Power Plan Will Hurt U.S. Jobs, Competitiveness

By 3p Contributor

By Bob Keefe

U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans to roll back the Clean Power Plan and other commonsense clean energy and climate policies puts our environment and our children’s future at risk.

It also puts something else at risk: American jobs and competitiveness.

More than 3 million people now work in clean energy in America, according to the Department of Energy. These are hard-working Americans who build and install solar panels and wind turbines; manufacture Energy Star appliances; and make our homes, offices and schools more efficient with better lighting, heating and insulation. Solar jobs grew by an incredible 25 percent last year, while wind energy jobs grew by 32 percent.

The Clean Power Plan sets a roadmap for states to reduce emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent by 2030 by replacing dirty and outdated energy sources with clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

From a business perspective, the plan provides market clarity to companies on the direction the country is going on energy, which allows them to invest, expand and hire new workers to meet the expected demand for clean energy.

That’s why more than 1,000 businesses joined in a letter to President Trump asking him to support a low-carbon economy and why more than 300 E2 business leaders wrote Congress in support of the Clean Power Plan.

With the executive order signed on Tuesday, the Trump White House aims to gut the Clean Power Plan, while simultaneously giving a grab-bag of government benefits to the fossil fuel industry. In signing the order, President Trump effectively kicked those 3 million American workers in the teeth and told them their jobs don’t matter.

His executive order solidifies the backward America First Energy Plan that will make America last in competitiveness by completely ignoring solar, wind and energy efficiency and putting all our country’s bets on 19th-century technology — coal, oil and other fossil fuels.

By way of comparison, the coal industry now employs less than 70,000 Americans. About 195,000 work in oil and gas extraction.

While President Trump is determined to completely ignore modern energy technology and instead strengthen our shackles to fossil fuels, America’s competitors on the global market are preparing to eat our economic lunch.

As America retreats on renewables, China plans to invest at least $360 billion in solar, wind and other renewables over the next three years. Germany, long a global leader in clean energy, is working on policies that will send renewable energy costs to record lows  —  putting more money in the bank accounts of businesses and consumers that will be reinvested in the economy.

Fortunately we have some real leaders in our states that realize the economic and environmental benefits of clean energy. In a statement on Tuesday, the governors of New York and California reaffirmed their commitment to exceeding the targets of the Clean Power Plan. They said doing so is good for both the environment and the economy in two of the nation’s biggest states.

“Dismantling the Clean Power Plan and other critical climate programs is profoundly misguided and shockingly ignores basic science,” said Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Jerry Brown of California. “With this move, the administration will endanger public health, our environment and our economic prosperity.”

About 500,000 Californians and 85,000 New Yorkers work in clean energy today, according to E2’s analysis.

President Trump has promised to be “the greatest jobs president that God has ever created.”

That won’t happen by rolling back policies like the Clean Power Plan.

What will happen is that American jobs and American competitiveness in clean energy will suffer.

Image credit: Flickr/Land Rover Our Planet 

Bob Keefe is executive director of E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs) a national, non-partisan group of business owners, investors and others who advocate for policies that are good for the economy and good for the environment. On Twitter @bkeefee2

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