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4 Ways Renewable Energy Is the Fastest Path to a Booming Economy
By Ryan Schleeter
Still think the Keystone XL pipeline will create tens of thousands of permanent jobs? Think again.
Unfortunately for him, tweeting something in all caps does not make it true—and it also won't suddenly make the fossil fuel industry economically viable again.
When it comes to fossil fuels versus renewables, there's no contest. Clean energy is our fastest path to a booming, prosperous economy for all Americans, not just the one percent. The next time you're confronted with the White House's alternative facts on coal, oil and job creation, arm yourselves with this info instead.
1. The U.S. solar industry is on a record-breaking growth streak.
In total, the industry employs more than 260,000 people in the U.S., up 25 percent from 2015—when the number of U.S. solar jobs surpassed those in oil, gas and coal extraction for the first time.
Solar is projected to continue growing in spite of Trump administration policies that favor fossil fuels. Falling installation costs and soaring investment—especially compared to coal—mean solar jobs are projected to increase by 10 percent in 2017.
2. Wind is not far behind and is catching up fast.
For the last few years, wind has trended ahead of fossil fuels but behind solar power in job growth—but that could soon change.
Last year, the industry added 25,000 new jobs and currently employs 102,000 people. Between now and 2024, wind turbine technician is projected to be the single fastest-growing job in the country by a wide margin. Overall, a 2015 Department of Energy analysis found that the wind industry could support more than 600,000 jobs by 2050.
As with solar, Trump's anti-environment policies can't stop the growth of the wind industry. Even without state or federal subsidies, onshore wind farms are cheaper to build and operate than coal and natural gas plants in many parts of the country, which will continue to fuel job growth in construction and manufacturing.
3. Pipeline projects do not create anywhere near as many jobs as Trump says they do.
Trump has claimed that his decision to fast-track the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines will put Americans to work and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.
He's wrong, of course.
While it is true that Keystone XL would create an estimated 2,000 to 4,000 temporary construction jobs, an alternative plan to scrap the pipeline and instead expand sustainable infrastructure in the region would create up to five times as many jobs. And in terms of full-time, permanent jobs, Keystone XL would create just 35 and Dakota Access 40.
Beyond pipeline projects, the overall number of people in the working in oil and gas extraction fell by nearly 17,000 over the course of 2015. Worldwide, wind and solar already employ more people than oil, gas and coal combined.
4. Coal jobs are simply not coming back—it's time to focus on a just transition for coal country.
"The miners are coming back," was Trump's promise to coal country at a rally in Kentucky last month. The only problem is that it's one more promise he can't keep.
Because it's not the Clean Power Plan—or any other environmental regulation—that's causing the decline of the coal industry. It's basic science and economics. Wind and solar are already cheaper and growing more affordable each year. Coal mining companies are going bankrupt left and right, shafting workers but giving CEOs million-dollar bonuses in the process. What coal mining operations are left are mostly automated and have been bleeding jobs for decades.
Instead of false promises, it's time to start focusing on the just transition that coal country deserves. That means job training in clean energy technologies and more democratic control over electricity grids for the communities of color, Indigenous people and blue collar workers hit hardest by our prolonged reliance on fossil fuels.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jason Bittel
It's that time of year again: Right now, monarch butterflies are taking wing in the mountains of northwestern Mexico and starting to flap their way across the United States.
At EcoWatch, our team knows that changing personal habits and taking actions that contribute to a better planet is an ongoing journey. Earth Day, happening on April 22, is a great reminder for all of us to learn more about the environmental costs of our behaviors like food waste or fast fashion.
To offer readers some inspiration this Earth Day, our team rounded up their top picks for films to watch. So, sit back and take in one of these documentary films this Earth Day. Maybe it will spark a small change you can make in your own life.
On Friday, Seal Rescue Ireland released Sesame the seal into the ocean after five months of rehabilitation at the Seal Rescue Ireland facility. Watch the release on EcoWatch's Facebook.
By Jordan Davidson
Guinness is joining the fight against single use plastic. The brewer has seen enough hapless turtles and marine life suffering from the scourge of plastic.
People of all ages are spending more of their day looking at their phones, computers and television screens, but parents now have another reason for limiting how much screen time their children get — it could lead to behavioral problems.