‘Regional Energy, National Solutions’ Report Greatly Supports U.S. Offshore Wind Development
As voters contemplate who will occupy the White House and Congress in the years ahead, The Center for the Next Generation and the Center for American Progress released “Regional Energy, National Solutions,” a new report that argues that the United States needs a long-term strategy to achieve climate stability, economic prosperity, and energy security using the unique assets of each region of the country to choose smart places for investment in multiple forms of energy and fuel.
“We know the earth is warming, and resources are finite, and as a country, we simply cannot take a ‘drill baby drill’ approach that keeps us dependent on finite and carbon-intensive resources for our electricity and transportation needs,” said Kate Gordon, director of the advanced energy and sustainability program at The Center for the Next Generation and a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. “Whereas the plan set forth by the American Petroleum Institute relies on centralized energy sources controlled by a handful of companies such as oil wells and power plants, our alternative strategy presents a range of energy and restoration projects that involve a huge variety of companies—large and small—in every region of the country. This is a country rich in natural resources and innovative talent—we should build on that to move the United States toward a truly advanced and sustainable energy future.”
The report finds:
- Offshore wind is the only utility-scale energy resource abundant enough to contribute substantially to the sustained, long-term energy demands of the Atlantic Coast region. Developing just 54 gigawatts of offshore wind in Atlantic waters would generate $200 billion in economic activity and create 43,000 permanent, well-paid technical jobs, in addition to displacing the annual output of 52 coal-fired power plants.
- In the Gulf Coast region, each $1 million in investment in ecosystem restoration can create as many as 36 jobs across a huge range of occupations and skill levels—more than equivalent investments in traditional infrastructure projects.
- The Southeast boasts more firms across the high-tech smart-grid value chain than any other region and continuing to lead this transition offers the opportunity to create diverse job opportunities. At the same time, if the region were to cut energy use across the region by 16 percent in 2030, consumer would see an annual savings of $71 billion and 520,000 jobs by 2030.
- In addition to revitalizing American manufacturing, the deep oil savings from vehicles now being built in the Midwest under strong new fuel economy standards mean net savings to consumers of more than $54 billion a year in 2030 and will add 570,000 jobs to the economy.
- The Mountain West boasts nearly unlimited renewable energy resources and these nonhydro projects, either under construction or in advanced development, represent 71,872 jobs. A study by Headwaters Economics found that from 1970–2010, nonmetropolitan counties in the West that had more than 30 percent protected federal lands increased jobs by 345 percent. Nonmetropolitan counties with no protected federal lands saw just 83 percent growth.
- The solar industry in California has experienced significant growth over the past 15 years. Since 1995 the number of solar businesses grew by 171 percent, and total employment jumped by 166 percent. As a point of comparison, the total number of California businesses has grown by 70 percent and employment increased by 12 percent.
The promise of the clean economy is not a mirage or a far-off goal; it’s being felt right now across the country, employing about 3.1 million Americans. In the second quarter of 2012 alone, more than 37,000 new clean energy jobs were announced in projects across 30 states.
Recognizing the critical need to enhance the energy security, the U.S. military has become a major proponent of clean technologies such as biofuels, efficiency, and solar, and the world’s largest investors agree that long-term climate change and clean energy policy is a tremendous investment opportunity. It is about time that the nation’s politicians support homegrown energy sources that jumpstart the country’s economy while protecting public health by decreasing the emission of harmful pollutants, the Center for American Progress says.
Press release, October 22, 2012; Image: Scira