State of Affairs: Clean Energy Jobs In the U.S.

by Laura Beans

The clean energy revolution rambles on

In addition to generating environmentally friendly power, the renewable energy sector also provides the U.S. economy with much needed, reliable jobs. A new report, released this month from Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), tracked green job creation in 2014, state-by-state.

More than 47,000 new positions in renewable energy were added last year, and after crunching the numbers, the report found that the states leading the nation in job announcements are: New York, California and Nevada—which soared to the top after Telsa Motors announced plans for 6,500-employee, lithium ion battery “gigafactory” to produce their electric cars. Included in the report is an interactive map, which allows readers to find out how clean energy is working for their home state.

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Click for the interactive map

The report crowned the solar industry as the leading creator of clean energy jobs, in both manufacturing and installations. Hybrid and electric vehicles, and renewable energy from wind, geothermal and other sustainable sources also contributed to green job creation.

Compared to previous years, last year’s total was low—in 2013 the industry added over 78,000 jobs in clean energy. While the compounded benefits of green energy—such as reducing carbon emissions from greenhouse gases and decreasing our dependency on polluting fossil fuels—make it seem like a no-brainer, politics often muddles the process of implementation.

Without federally mandated tax subsidies for renewable energy, initiatives vary greatly from state to state. Public policy—often influenced by special interest lobby groups—wavers between elections, causing uncertainty within the industry, which may account for the low numbers of 2014. Some states—like Colorado and Michigan—are considering rolling back their renewable energy standards; and in May of 2014, Ohio became the first state to do so, eliminating the schedule of progressive, publicly supported renewable energy and energy efficient standards.

Overall though, the renewable energy industry shows no signs of stopping. And as the effects of climate change grow more and more prevalent, lawmakers and legislators will have to step up to mitigate, which can only mean even more renewable energy jobs for the U.S. Out of sheer necessity, the clean energy revolution will continue to ramble on.

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