As the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns have hit many different sectors, the green energy sector has not been exempt from the fallout. According to Politico, the sector has lost 600,000 jobs since the start of the pandemic. Clean energy groups have been pressuring their Democratic allies on the Hill to start giving the clean energy sector some support.
As Politico reports:
Republicans remain skeptical of any push to aid the sector. Senate Environment and Public Works Chair John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) denounced an infrastructure framework put out by House Democrats, seen as a possible vehicle for the aid, as ‘a laundry list of liberal priorities’ and ‘a second ‘Green New Deal” in an op-ed.
Louisiana Rep. Garret Graves, top Republican on the House Climate Crisis Committee, said efforts to aid the clean energy sector were an ‘incredibly tone deaf move or priority right now.’
Republicans are right to want to avoid embracing Green New Deal-style regulations that would make it harder to get the economy back up and running, but they shouldn’t overlook how the energy sector–including clean energy producers–actually do play an important role in making our economy work. In fact, green energy is a fast-growing market, with incredible potential and importance. Instead of writing off any policy proposals that support the green energy sector, we should be sure to carefully examine any policy proposals that can help our economy and our environment.
The sector has already enjoyed tremendous growth and expansion in recent years. The Clean Jobs America 2019 report found that before the pandemic, there were nearly 3.3 million Americans working in clean energy. In 2018, clean energy employment grew 3.6% and accounted for 4.2% of all jobs added nationally that year. The same report found that renewable energy is already the fastest growing source of new U.S. electricity generation.
The market, not the government, certainly should determine our energy mix, but we should all be rooting for innovations that make cleaner and renewable sources more reliable and affordable. No industry should receive special favors from the government, but politicians also shouldn’t overlook or dismiss the promise of any industry.