As clean energy and climate legislation moves through Congress, new data show that a $2.9 billion investment would create 36,000 new jobs in Missouri. According to the analysis, shifting to a clean-energy economy will help millions of low-income Americans by creating more accessible job opportunities — with the potential for advancement — and by lowering utility bills and transportation costs.
The two studies come from four political analysis groups: Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Center for American Progress , Green For All , and the Natural Resources Defense Council .
The outcome outlines how investment in a clean-energy economy would produce significant economic and job creation benefits.
"Clean energy investments are a win-win proposition for all of us, but especially for low income families," said Ruth Roetheli Ehresman, Director of Health and Budget Policy at the Missouri Budget Project, which advances public policies that improve economic opportunities for all Missourians, particularly low and middle income families. "They will benefit through increased access to jobs that can be a stepping stone out of poverty, as well as through decreased energy costs and better public transportation."
"Green Prosperity: How Clean-Energy Policies Can Fight Poverty and Raise Living Standards in the United States" from the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (PERI), Natural Resources Defense Council, and Green For All shows that shifting from traditional fossil fuel to clean energy will improve the standard of living for millions of Americans across all skill and education levels, especially among lower-income families.
"Green Investments, Employment and Growth" from PERI and CAP explains how the combination of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the American Clean Energy and Security Act — also called the Waxman-Markey bill — could serve as the foundation for bringing total clean-energy investments in the United States to approximately $150 billion per year, producing a net gain of 1.7 million new jobs nationally," researchers said.
"It’s clearer than ever that investment in a clean energy economy will create pathways to prosperity for millions of Americans, especially in low-income communities," said Richard Mabion of Building a Sustainable Earth Community, Kansas City. "Moving to clean energy can be a driving force for economic growth and protecting the environment."
According to the "Green Prosperity" report, nearly half of the 1.7 million new jobs created by green investment will be accessible to workers with relatively low levels of formal education. Of these, nearly 75 percent will have high potential for advancement. This expansion could drive down the unemployment rate by more than one percentage point.
The reports indicate that in addition to creating new economic opportunities, the investment would significantly contribute to improvements in energy efficiency in buildings and homes, lowering overall energy costs for consumers and especially benefiting lower-income households. Researchers say the savings could be as high as 4 percent of household incomes for some families. Moving to clean energy would also improve public transportation, especially in urban areas, which could lead to an average reduction in living costs by 1 to 4 percent per family, the report states.
"We heard earlier in the week when the government put out a comprehensive climate report that the impacts of global warming are real, present and on a course to get worse," said Peter Lehner, Executive Director, Natural Resources Defense Council. And he says while the ACES bill is not perfect and there are many things the group would like to see changed, "It is a very important step forward. The reports show solid reasons as to why those who would raise the spectre of economics do not have a leg to stand on."
Other researchers added that "People of color and people in urban areas benefit" and that "more than half of the jobs would be accessible to those with a high school diploma or below. This, since the industrial revolution, is a chance for us to get it right."