NRCM news release
Maine lost out on 12,000 new clean energy jobs due that could have been created from 2012-2020 if Congress had enacted a climate and energy bill, according to an analysis by a coalition of business groups. The bill — a version of which had previously been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives — was abandoned by the U.S. Senate on July 22, after intensive lobbying by the coal and oil industry. Nationwide, Americans will miss out on an estimated 1.9 million jobs in the clean energy sector as a result.
The report was sponsored by the Small Business Majority, a small business advocacy group; American Businesses for Clean Energy, an initiative by small and large businesses; the Main Street Alliance, a national network of small business coalitions; and We Can Lead, a national coalition of business leaders.
“In the less than two-month period since the U.S. Senate failed to act on a comprehensive climate and energy bill, the U.S. has fallen more than $11 billion behind China and other leading nations in clean energy investments,” the groups said in a summary of the report.
The report is being released in Maine by the Natural Resources Council of Maine and the Maine Small Business Coalition, a network of 2,500 Maine small business owners who support growing strong local communities and economies and enhancing the quality of life for all Maine people.
“In this tough economy, small business owners like me are doing our part to reduce energy costs and create jobs,” said Melanie Collins, owner of Melanie’s Home Childcare in Falmouth and leader with the Maine Small Business Coalition. “We are creating local jobs that can’t be outsourced and will provide the foundation for a small business customer base and healthy local economies. But we can’t fix the economy on our own–we need the Senate to act and pass clean energy policies that will reignite economic growth and help put Mainers back to work.”
“Maine has been in the top 10 states in the nation for the number of jobs in the energy efficiency sector,” said Richard Burbank. “My company, Evergreen Home Performance, has been growing – despite the economic downturn – due to temporary help from federal stimulus funds that are about to run out. Federal legislation could put Maine on track for thousands of new jobs in this sector on into the future. Maine Senators Snowe and Collins need to redouble their efforts to make these jobs a reality.”
The report cited research by the Political Economic Research Institute at UMass-Amherst, which found that the vast majority of those jobs would be distributed in areas where workers are already available and tap job skills already present in the U.S. workforce.
Earlier this year, more than 500 Maine businesses – large and small – called upon Maine’s Senators Snowe and Collins to take action on climate legislation.
“Maine cannot afford to miss out on the jobs that the clean energy economy could bring,” said Lisa Pohlmann, Deputy Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. Maine’s unemployment rate exceeded eight percent in July. “There are already 6,000 clean energy jobs in Maine. But the fossil fuel lobby seems to have a stranglehold on Congress. Big coal and oil lobbyists defeated climate legislation this summer, and now they are trying to gut the Clean Air Act. We need leadership from Maine Senators Snowe and Collins to jumpstart American clean energy jobs.”
The number of clean energy jobs increased by more than 20 percent in Maine from 1998 to 2007 – nearly seven times the overall growth rate of jobs in Maine, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.
The Federal Recovery Act included more than $80 billion for energy efficiency and clean energy initiatives. In Maine, more than $10 million have been invested in improving energy efficiency for businesses, industry, and homeowners. The U.S. Senate is still debating Home Star legislation, which would expand and extend homeowner rebates for weatherization and efficiency.