Developing a clean energy economy in the U.S. could create some 850,000 new manufacturing jobs

The report, “Building the Clean Energy Assembly Line: How Renewable Energy Can Revitalize U.S. Manufacturing and the American Middle Class,” by the Blue Green Alliance, recommends major policy changes to build markets for clean energy and provide the financing and capacity building to create clean energy jobs.

Speaking at a telephone press conference today, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said federal policies gave a boost to the auto, medical and other industries, and they can do the same for clean energy.

Clean energy can revitalize U.S. manufacturing. Clean energy technology utilizes many of the same components manufactured for the auto industry. Done right, clean energy policy will create new demand for…manufacturing.

Developing clean energy also is an issue of national security, Brown said, because “we need to wean ourselves from foreign oil.”

The report says if Congress enacts a federal Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), which would require the nation’s utilities to produce 25 percent of our electricity using renewable sources by 2025, it would stimulate enough demand for the component parts needed to make wind turbines, solar panels and other clean energy technologies to create 850,000 jobs at existing U.S. manufacturers across the country.

The jobs would revitalize the hard-hit Midwest. Six of the 10 states with the potential to create the most renewable energy jobs are in the nation’s heartland—Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. The other big winners would be California, Texas, New York and North Carolina, according to the report.

Also speaking at the press conference call, Utility Workers (UWUA) President Michael Langford told reporters:

Renewable energy, and the green jobs that come along with it, are key to our economic growth. It is essential that in order to lead the world in renewable energy technologies, and create good jobs that support our families and communities, we must look at ways to rebuild and revitalize American manufacturing.

We can’t keep doing what we’re doing. We’re just making countries like China rich. That’s not sustainable. We have to create more jobs

The new report also calls for changes in policies on financing, tax credits and caps on carbon emissions, and increased research and development.

Citing the growing expansion of clean energy usage and manufacturing in China and some European countries, Robert Gramlich, senior vice president of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), said the United States must move quickly or lose out on the opportunity to take the lead in green technology.

The global foot race is on. This is a great opportunity for us to help American workers and industries.

David Foster, executive director of the Blue Green Alliance, says adding a robust manufacturing provision in climate change legislation now in the Senate “will ensure that strengthening and revitalizing America’s manufacturing base is a priority.”

We can create whole new industries and put America in the driver’s seat for the global clean energy economy.

In a speech in September, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said strategies to change U.S. energy sources mean developing wind and solar power, rehabbing buildings to conserve energy and creating electrical smart grids. It also will require creating a new energy-efficient transportation fleet and expanding mass transit.

But making the best use of less popular energy sources such as coal also must be in the mix, he said. A former coal miner, Trumka said he believes there is an important role for clean coal as we transition to carbon-free energy sources.

Launched in 2006 by the United Steelworkers (USW) and the Sierra Club, the Blue Green Alliance is a national, strategic partnership between unions and environmental organizations dedicated to expanding the number and quality of jobs in the green economy.

Other members of the alliance include AFT, the Communications Workers of America (CWA), UWUA, Laborers, SEIU and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).