Funding companies that provide green jobs may be an answer to the unemployment problem, but it’s not the only answer. President Obama, touring an LED lighting factory in Durham, NC, Monday, admitted as much, tying the path to improving employment numbers to the discussion about the federal deficit.
“[T]he American people need to know,” he told those gathered at the Cree manufacturing facility, “that over the next month, as we focus on making sure that we have a balanced thoughtful resolution to this [deficit] problem, this isn’t to the exclusion of worrying about jobs, but is actually in service of making sure businesses have enough confidence about the investment environment so that they can start getting off the sidelines and putting more money to work and hiring more people.”
To make green jobs an important piston in that engine of economic growth, requires “policy certainty,” with respect to passing renewable energy legislation, according to a recent report from the Pew Charitable Trusts, something that will certainly not happen with the overwhelming majority of Republicans in the House, whose base abhors any conversation related to climate change.
The purpose of such legislation, the Pew report says, would be “to draw in cautious developers, manufacturers and investors who have historically been reluctant to make major investments in the country.”
While the Recovery Act, aka, the stimulus, made available tax incentives and loan guarantees for some renewable energy industries, the failure to be able to get carbon market, aka, cap-and-trade, legislation through the last Congress put a, um, “bump in the road” to green jobs helping pull our economy up.
Presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney may have twisted that phrase to mean the pathetic situation in which unemployed Americans find themselves, in his most recent campaign ad, but the real “bump in the road” for the policies that this administration is putting forward to help jump start employment, is the dogmatic, make-him-fail, attitude of the current House of Representatives. Sadly, their fear mongering has infected moderates in the Democratic caucus as well.
The roadblocks, first by the handicapped Senate, last year, and now by the GOP House, have put the United States behind in the race to lead the development of renewable resources. “This is a $5 trillion business and if we fail to be serious players in the new energy economy, the costs will be staggering to this country,” Hal Harvey, an engineer who advised the administrations of the past two presidents, told the New York Times.
Indeed, President Obama said, Monday, that green jobs “are the jobs of the future. These are the jobs that China and India are cranking out,” adding, “and we’re falling behind in the very fields we know are going to be our future.”
Why can’t we take that leap into our future? It’s the Pew study’s “policy certainty,” or, as Harvey (who holds the position of ex officio for the ClimateWorks Foundation) put it, “We’ve let energy policy succumb to partisan politics.”