Time to Unleash the Potential of Clean Energy

By Beacon Staff

On Nov. 9, the Clean Energy Jobs American Power Act (S. 1733) passed through an important committee in the Senate – moving us closer to setting our country on a path to a cleaner energy future. This is the first substantial effort toward a new energy plan since Jimmy Carter urged the American public to pursue energy independence “…with the moral imperative of war.”

Now it’s up to the Senate to pass the bill and unleash the potential of clean energy to rebuild our economy, put millions of Americans back to work, and cut CO2 pollution.

More Wind, More Efficiency, More Jobs.

With Montana’s immense potential for wind generation – tied for 2nd in the nation according to a new Harvard University Study – and for energy efficiency, we should be leading the charge toward the clean energy economy. Clean energy has been a bright spot in Montana’s economy: according to a survey of green businesses by the Pew Charitable Trusts, there were 408 green businesses in Montana’s emerging clean energy economy by 2007, employing more than 2,150 people.

Montanans are dedicated and innovative, so we know we can turn our immense potential into good jobs and real savings on energy bills for families. We can create upwards of 6,000 jobs through comprehensive clean energy and climate policies, and if we had done it last year our unemployment rate would have been 3.2 percent instead of 4.5 percent in 2008. It’s not to late too reenergize our economy and put our neighbors and families back to work.

These jobs will be created by renovating our homes and businesses with the latest technologies to capture wasted energy and save consumers money. They will be in building and operating mass transit and freight rail to carry people and goods to our cities and towns while creating less pollution and helping free us from dependence on oil. These jobs will be in construction and building, manufacturing, selling, installing and servicing wind turbines, solar panels and super efficient automobiles to power and move our clean energy economy. This better world is within reach.

Earnings Down the Drain Pipe

The alternative to this clean energy future is continued dependence on fossil fuels that pollute our environment, drain our economy and threaten our national security. Environment Montana recently calculated that between 2010 and 2030, Montana will spend as much as $127.4 billion on oil, coal and other fossil fuels – 6.7 times the total earnings of all Montana workers in 2007.

Every dollar we spend on fossil fuels buys us more CO2 pollution, more smog and more asthma attacks. Montana is a maker of market-driven solutions. Transitioning to a clean energy economy would not only create jobs but would save us money. A recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that transitioning to clean energy would cut costs in the mountain region by $880 per household annually and save consumers and business a total of $21 billion annually in 2030.

When the choice is between paying to uphold a dirty polluting status quo and investing in a new direction for America that serves as catalyst for business investment and new economic opportunities, clean energy is the clear winner.

Let’s Stop Playing Dirty

Big Oil, Dirty Coal and other polluters have hired 2,000 lobbyists to stop a new clean energy plan – that’s nearly four lobbyists for every member of Congress. Recent news out of Washington indicates that lobbyists hired by the coal industry went so far as to forge letters from constituents to pressure members of Congress to vote against the house bill. To push clean energy and efficiency plans past Big Oil and its cronies, our senators need to hear from us.

Now is the time for bold and meaningful action on clean energy and global warming. We need only to listen to our retired military generals to be aware of the many real potential security ramifications of our changing climate and weather events. We are calling on Montana’s senators to support the Clean Energy Jobs American Power Act and unleash the power of clean energy to transform our economy, protect our environment and national security, and build a more sustainable future. We urge readers to do the same.

David Fischlowitz is with FischWorks Building Systems and Montana Sustainable Building Systems. He currently serves as the secretary of the Flathead Valley Green Building Guild, and holds a “Certified Green Professional” accreditation from the National Association of Home Builders.

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