New Report: Thousands of News Jobs for Montana from Clean Energy

Montana stands to gain 6,335 by investing in global-warming solutions

Contact Information

PERI Contact: Debbie Zeidenberg, (413) 577-3147; dzeiden@peri.umass.edu
CAP Contact: John Neurohr, (202) 481-8182; jneurohr@americanprogress.org

Roy Houseman, United Steelworkers Local 885, Missoula, (406) 544-4940
Dave Ryan, Montana Renewable Energy Association, Butte, (406) 490-6233
Brian Lehl, Wapiti Green Builders, Helena (406) 461-7979

Jeanne Souvigney, Montana Conservation Voters Education Fund, Livingston (406) 581-8942
Bob Clark, Sierra Club, Missoula, (406) 549-1142
Amy Cilimburg, Montana Audubon, Helena, (406) 465-1141

Billings, MT (September 9, 2008) — As America confronts the current energy crisis, a new report by economists from the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst shows that the U.S. can create two million jobs nationwide by investing in clean energy technologies that will strengthen the economy and fight global warming. The report finds that investing in clean energy would create four times as many jobs as spending the same amount of money within the oil industry.

In Montana, 6,335 jobs would be created by investing in this clean energy program.

Those investments garner the strong support of Big Sandy 4th generation farmer, Bob Quinn. "Renewable energy should be a big part of Montana's energy future”, he said, “and with that comes important long-term jobs for rural communities who need them the most." Quinn was the original developer of the wind farm near Judith Gap, Montana’s largest wind farm, and currently grows camelina which he uses to fuel his farm equipment.

Dave Ryan, President of the Montana Renewable Energy Association commented on the report, saying, “If we invest in a clean energy economy, we increase our energy independence, help reduce the dangerous effects of global warming, and perhaps most importantly for Montanans, create good jobs. We need real solutions to our energy crisis.”

“Green Recovery – A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy” analyzes the potential for a two-year $100 billion green investment program – which would be comparable to the size of the April 2008 federal stimulus package dedicated to consumer rebates – to be an engine for job creation in Montana and nationwide. The program could be paid for with proceeds from auctions of carbon permits under a global warming cap-and-trade program. A global warming cap-and-trade program will drive private investments into clean energy and raise public revenue through carbon permit auctions. A cap will enable America to reduce global warming pollution to the levels science indicates are needed to avoid the worst effects of global warming.

The package is illustrative of the potential for clean energy – and specifically green infrastructure investments – to create new jobs and strengthen the economy. The specific package would invest in six green infrastructure priorities: retrofitting buildings to improve energy efficiency, expanding mass transit and freight rail, constructing “smart” electrical grid transmission systems, wind power, solar power, and next-generation biofuels. 

“Spending 112 million dollars in the state of Montana to upgrade our publicly owned buildings makes good sense all around,” stated Roy Houseman, President of the United Steelworkers Local 885 in Missoula. “It would mean more jobs for people and a long term saving in energy and obviously money for the taxpayers of Montana. The United Steelworkers are committed to a green economy. It's smart to diversify our energy supply and I believe Montana has great potential to become a leader in green energy and all the jobs that come behind it,”

Brian Lehl, proprietor of Wapiti Green Builders of Helena, agrees with Houseman, "I believe strongly in the future growth of the sustainable building and solar energy fields. I predict it will be the single fastest growing segment of our economy in a very short while. It just makes sense with an ever increasing population and strained energy commodities. Growth in "green" markets is inevitable and it is imperative for the stability and sustainability of Montana's economy to invest in a clean energy future.”

The report also shows that the vast majority of the two million jobs gained from this initial $100 billion investment in clean energy would be in the same areas of employment that people already work in today, in every region and state of the country. For example, constructing wind farms creates jobs for sheet metal workers, machinists and truck drivers, among many others. Increasing the energy efficiency of buildings through retrofitting requires roofers, insulators and building inspectors. Expanding mass transit systems employs civil engineers, electricians, and dispatchers. 

In addition to creating two million jobs nationwide over two years, a $100 billion initial investment in our clean energy future would:

* Create nearly four times more jobs than spending the same amount of money within the oil industry and 300,000 more jobs than a similar amount of spending directed toward household consumption.
* Create roughly triple the number of good jobs — paying at least $16 dollars an hour — as spending the same amount of money within the oil industry. 
* Bolster employment especially in construction and manufacturing. Construction employment has fallen from 8 million to 7.2 million over the past two years due to the housing bubble collapse. The Green Recovery program can, at the least, bring back these lost 800,000 construction jobs.

The report proposes that the $100 billion of initial investments fund:

* $50 billion for tax credits. This would assist private businesses and homeowners to finance both commercial and residential building retrofits, as well as investments in renewable-energy systems. 
* $46 billion in direct government spending. This would support public building retrofits, the expansion of mass transit, freight rail and smart electrical-grid systems, and new investments in renewable energy.
* $4 billion for federal loan guarantees. This would underwrite private credit that is extended to finance building retrofits and investments in renewable energy.

The report was written by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, under commission by the Center for American Progress (CAP) and released by a coalition of labor and environmental groups. The authors of the report are Robert Pollin, Heidi Garrett-Peltier, James Heintz, and Helen Scharber of PERI. For the complete report findings go to www.peri.umass.edu/green_recovery.

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