Last month I participated in the inspiring climate march in Washington D.C. While President Donald Trump has embarked on efforts to roll back the country’s most important climate-change policies, clean energy quietly reached another milestone — wind turbines surpassed hydroelectric dams as the country’s largest reserve of renewable power.
Industries like wind, solar, energy efficiency and clean transportation currently support 3 million jobs nationally, according to the national business group Environmental Entrepreneurs. That far exceeds current employment levels in the fossil-fuel industry.
Nearly three-quarters of Americans believe we should prioritize alternative energy over oil and natural gas, according to Gallup. Last year was the hottest on record, and as the effects of climate change reach every part of our economy, more people are recognizing the imperative to act.
That’s why I joined hundreds of thousands of Americans in the march in Washington D.C. in support of action on climate change — clean energy means more jobs, less carbon and a stronger economy. Trump inexplicably wants to halt this momentum. He allowed the auto industry to pause fuel economy gains. He aims to kill the Energy Star program, which drives development of money-saving appliances like refrigerators and washing machines. His budget would deliver a blow to research programs focused on advances like longer-lasting batteries and a stronger electric grid.
Thanks in part to tax credits encouraging renewable energy development, total solar capacity has increased nearly ninefold over the last three years, while wind has surged 34 percent. More than half the new capacity coming onto the U.S. grid last year was from renewable power.
This growth drives jobs in both blue states and red states. California, for example, ranks first in both solar energy and energy efficiency jobs. The No. 2 state for efficiency jobs, Texas, is also the nation’s top wind-energy producer. Technicians and installers are good-paying jobs that can’t be sent offshore. Wind turbine technician, for example, is the fastest-growing job in the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
If the White House continues down this path, Congress should step in to fill the leadership void and ensure the progress on clean energy. Lawmakers can protect funding for energy research and incentives for wind and solar projects. They can support policies that encourage efficiency and the ability for industries to compete on a global scale. They can ramp up the pressure to remain in the Paris climate agreement. The quality of our jobs today, and the economic health of our nation tomorrow, depend on it.