Sunday, January 03, 2010

Climate Bill, Clean Energy Economy Key to Red State's Economic Revival

Here's further evidence that we'll see a climate change and clean energy bill passed in 2010:

It's not often that East Tennessee Republicans and Democrats find common ground on important issues. However, comprehensive federal climate and energy policy as a means to boost our economy and create jobs is something this former Tennessee GOP chair and East Tennessee Democrat agree on.

To begin with, let's set aside the issue of climate change or global warming
. You can argue that topic with climate scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory or Al Gore if you like. We prefer to focus on what will be the next economic driver in our state and the policies and investments that will help get us there.

Federal clean-energy policies that invest in renewable energy
and energy efficiencies and reduce carbon pollution from our economy will create jobs in Tennessee.

A recent study by a consortium of economists from three universities found that, if polices implemented in the House-passed version of the climate and energy bill were enacted today, Tennessee stands to gain up to 20,000 jobs.

This is the first study that weighed all three components of the bill: capping carbon, renewable energy and energy efficiency. It found the stronger the policies, the more Tennesseans stand to gain economically.

Clean-energy technology promises to be a financially powerful driver, more so than any previous growth industry. Ernst & Young estimates that U.S. clean-tech investments totaled $4.7 billion in 2008, a 68 percent increase from the previous year.

U.S. Department of Commerce data show that, for every million dollars spent on a mix of renewable energy and efficiency, 16.7 jobs are created, while that same million dollars spent within the oil industry creates only 4.5 jobs.

Let's hope that these folks are meeting with Tennessee's Republican Senators, who are currently "NO" votes on climate change and clean energy legislation. At some point, partisanship has to be replaced with clear, common sense thinking about what's the best strategy for revitalizing their state's economy.

It's time for Red States to get on board the train to the 21st Century Clean Energy Economy.  The longer they delay passage of bold climate change and clean energy legislation, the greater the risk that they will be the last ones on board, and the risk that by the time they finally decide to make the jump, there will be no place left for them to sit.

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