Clean energy jobs will be gone soon, if America fails to commit.
Edward Flippen is a partner (retired) with McGuireWoods LLP and a lecturer at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and at the University of Virginia School of Law. He is currently a visiting scholar at Queen Mary University of London. He acknowledges the contributions of McGuireWoods Associate Brett Breitschwerdt.
America needs an energy policy today that will bring together our best and brightest, harness the limitless capabilities of our research institutions, and invest whatever it takes to ensure America’s leadership in clean energy technologies. The result will be to create billion-dollar industries and millions of new jobs.
The 14 million Americans unemployed and 8.8 million under-employed feel left out of the American dream. The almost limitless opportunities available to the post-World War II generation simply aren’t there today. But there are opportunities. They might require re-training or relocating; and they might provide less pay or benefits. But, for sure, opportunities exist. But—and equally for sure—the people seeking those opportunities require help.
What better way to help them than by taking advantage of opportunities to create new energy jobs?
In the 2011 World Energy Outlook, the International Energy Agency estimates that between 2011 and 2035, roughly $38 trillion in energy infrastructure will be required to meet global demand.1 Investments in the power sector alone will equal roughly $16.9 trillion to maintain current supply levels.2
Surely President Obama and Congress can develop a bipartisan plan leveraging both government spending and private investment for home-grown energy solutions that heads America down an R&D path that eventually will produce more job-creating clean energy technologies. It’s fundamental that America must remain the land of innovation and opportunity when it comes to clean energy. But we can’t wait until new clean energy technologies arrive at our shores; we also can’t postpone domestic development, production, or manufacture of the entire spectrum of America’s energy resources.