Environment

Comprehensive Climate and Energy Legislation: More Jobs, Not Fewer

| by NRDC

By Laurie Johnson

On Monday, April 26th, Senators Kerry, Graham and Lieberman (KGL) are expected to release their proposed climate legislation. If properly crafted, climate legislation will reduce dangerous global warming pollution, increase national security by reducing oil consumption, help kick start America’s growth engine of the 21st century—clean energy, and keep America at the forefront of clean energy innovation. No doubt, a key factor in the debate will be jobs, so let’s settle up the score from the get-go: we have every reason to expect that climate change legislation will produce a net increase in jobs.

Here’s why:

Since the nation first enacted comprehensive environmental protection, beginning four decades ago, hundreds of pollutants have been regulated. At the same time, tens of thousands of jobs were created every year in the environmental protection industry, and only a handful lost due to regulation—roughly one to three thousand per year, less than the number of weather-related job losses. Several factors explain these outcomes. First, the economy grew. This is good news, since this is exactly what all of the economic models project with or without climate legislation, regardless of whether the model is estimated by groups opposed to climate legislation or by non-partisan government and academic institutions. Second, the environmental protection industry is more labor-intensive than the economy as a whole: on average, a dollar spent on environmental protection employs more workers than does a dollar spent elsewhere in the economy. Third, job losses from environmental regulation constitute a statistically imperceptible number of workers relative to the size of the economy as a whole (though not, of course, to the people who lose them).

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The most significant job growth will be in renewable energy and energy efficiency, with estimates in the range of 900,000 to 1.9 million jobs by 2020. Climate legislation could also increase jobs in the automobile sector, putting America back on the map as a leader in the global auto industry. A recent study sponsored by NRDC, the United Auto Workers, and the Center for American Progress shows that with the right incentives to manufacture clean car components in the United States, attaining a fuel economy of 40 mpg by 2020 would create 50,000 to 150,000 new domestic auto sector jobs. Finally, and perhaps most surprising, climate legislation could even drive job creation in the U.S. oil industry from enhanced oil recovery (EOR), a technology that uses CO2 to extract more oil from aging fields. An abundance of existing and abandoned oil fields are available for CO2-EOR, which would not only provide a place to sequester CO2, but also reduce pressure to open up new areas for oil exploration. The result is that by 2020, over 40,000 jobs could be created from CO2-EOR, rising to approximately 350,000 by 2030.

Click here for more details on how climate legislation will bring steady growth in jobs and innovation as we transition to a clean energy economy.

Original post on NRDC Switchboard