New Report Outlines Rapid Green Economic Recovery Plan
NRCM news release
AUGUSTA, ME — As the nation continues to debate its energy future, a new report released today shows that the U.S. can create two million jobs, including more than 9,000 in Maine, by investing in a rapid green economic recovery program, which will strengthen the economy, increase energy independence, and fight global warming.
The “Green Recovery – A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy” report was prepared by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, commissioned by the Center for American Progress (CAP), and released by a coalition of businesses and labor and environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Council of Maine, WarmTech Solutions of Yarmouth, Reed and Reed Inc. of Woolwich, Maine AFL-CIO and Maine Labor Council – United Steel Workers, and Maine Green Building Supply of Portland.
“Solving our energy and environmental problems with a significant green recovery program will put more people to work and help revitalize our economy at a time when many Americans are hurting,” said Dylan Voorhees of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Our energy and environmental problems are linked, so it makes sense for Congress to address these problems together.”
“Weatherizing homes will employ Maine contractors and lower Maine oil bills,” said Voorhees. “Building wind farms will employ our construction workers, cut our property taxes, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Adding mass transit options will help put Mainers to work and get Mainers to work.”
“Many Maine workers are losing their jobs due to the high cost of oil,” said Bruce Roy of the Maine AFL-CIO. “Investing in the clean energy economy is an investment in our workers that will pay off for all of us.”
“Reed & Reed has been thrilled to be a part of the emerging wind power economy,” said Art Cavanaugh, Project Manager for Reed & Reed, Inc. of Woolwich, Maine. “Because of our expertise in this highly specialized area, we have received requests to do wind project work in Canada and Pennsylvania, but there is so much potential work here we have kept our focus on Maine and New England. By making the investments today we will position Maine businesses to compete well in the global economy, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, save money, and reduce our emissions.”
“My business has doubled this year selling efficient lighting, solar systems and other green building products,” said Steve Konstantino of Maine Green Building Supply in Portland. “Business is booming for me, but imagine how many other businesses could be growing and creating good jobs if policy makers would just jumpstart the clean energy revolution. In Maine, we’re facing an energy crisis and an economic downturn. There is no better time to invest in the sectors that are going to get us off our oil addiction and get us plugged in to the clean energy economy.”
“Maine homes are totally unprepared for sustained high energy prices—they’re older, they’re inefficient, and it would take hundreds of workers to make a dent in this problem,” said Ashley Richards of WarmTech Solutions in Yarmouth. “I don’t get up every morning and think ‘I have a green job,’ but I do know that the work I’m getting paid to do has environmental and economic benefits. It may come as no surprise to hear that business is good right now for someone in the insulation business. Building retrofits, one of the green investment strategies in this report, is an area with big potential for new jobs. The building and construction trades are an important part of our economy—unfortunately in some areas they’ve slowed down right now, but not this one.”
The green economic recovery program addresses the immediate need to boost our struggling economy and accelerate the adoption of a comprehensive clean-energy agenda through a $100 billion investment that would combine tax credits and loan guarantees for private businesses along with direct public-investment spending.
The recovery program aims to boost private and public investment in six energy-efficiency and renewable-energy strategies: retrofitting buildings to improve energy efficiency, expanding mass transit and freight rail, constructing “smart” electrical grid transmission systems, wind power, solar power, and next-generation biofuels.
In addition to creating two million jobs nationwide, including 9,132 in Maine, over two years, this $100 billion green economic recovery package would:
- Reduce Maine’s unemployment rate to 3.8 percent from 5.0 percent (calculated within the framework of U.S. labor market conditions in July 2008).
- Reduce the national unemployment rate to 4.4 percent from 5.7 percent (calculated within the framework of U.S. labor market conditions in July 2008).
- Create nearly four times more jobs than spending the same amount of money within the oil industry and 300,000 more jobs than a similar amount of spending directed toward household consumption.
- Create roughly triple the number of good jobs — paying at least $16 an hour — as spending the same amount of money within the oil industry.
- Bolster employment especially in construction and manufacturing. Construction employment has fallen from 8 million to 7.2 million over the past two years due to the housing bubble collapse. The Green Recovery program can, at the least, bring back these lost 800,000 construction jobs.
The report shows that the vast majority of the two million jobs would be in the same areas of employment that people already work in today, in Maine and the nation. For example, constructing wind farms creates jobs for sheet metal workers, machinists and truck drivers, among many others. Increasing the energy efficiency of buildings through retrofitting requires roofers, insulators and building inspectors. Expanding mass transit systems employs civil engineers, electricians, and dispatchers.
“This green economic recovery program is part of a comprehensive low-carbon energy strategy and would be a down payment on a 10-year policy program recommended by the Center for American Progress, including the immediate adoption of a cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as targeted standards and incentives to spur the transition to clean energy,” said Bracken Hendricks from CAP.
The green recovery program investments would fund:
- $50 billion for tax credits. This would assist private businesses and homeowners to finance both commercial and residential building retrofits, as well as investments in renewable-energy systems.
- $46 billion in direct government spending. This would support public building retrofits, the expansion of public transit, freight rail and smart electrical-grid systems, and new investments in renewable energy.
- $4 billion for federal loan guarantees. This would underwrite private credit that is extended to finance building retrofits and investments in renewable energy.
The authors of the report are Robert Pollin, Heidi Garrett-Peltier, James Heintz, and Helen Scharber of PERI.