Federal spending from the stimulus bill and proposed environmental legislation could create 38,000 jobs in Indiana, according to reports issued Thursday by a group of environmental-advocacy organizations.
The reports say shifting to a cleaner-energy economy would help millions of low-income Americans by creating more accessible job opportunities while reducing utility bills and transportation costs.
The analyses – prepared by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Center for American Progress; Green For All; and the Natural Resources Defense Council – say existing occupations can dovetail cleanly with the demands of a new economy.
“Most of the jobs created through clean-energy investments will be in the same areas that people work in today,” said a summary on the shift in Indiana. “Constructing wind farms creates jobs for sheet metal workers, machinists and truck drivers. Increasing buildings’ energy efficiency through retrofitting requires roofers, insulators and building inspectors. Expanding mass transit systems employs civil engineers, electricians and dispatchers.”
Not all observers agree that proposed clean-energy legislation would be a boon for the state.
In a national address last month, Gov. Mitch Daniels criticized proposed energy legislation that would limit and gradually reduce carbon emissions in the U.S.
“The scheme to radically change the sources and the cost of American energy through a system known as ‘cap and trade’ may be well-intentioned,” Daniels said, “but it will cost us dearly in jobs and income, and it stands no chance of achieving its objective of a cooler Earth.”
“The cost of this policy will be certain, massive and immediate,” Daniels said at the event, adding that the legislation would result in a doubling of the utility costs in Indiana. Indiana relies heavily on coal-burning power plants for its electricity.
“The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy” report says the stimulus bill and energy legislation could serve as the foundation for bringing total clean-energy investments in the United States to approximately $150 billion per year, producing a net gain of 1.7 million new jobs nationally.
Viewed purely as a jobs program, creating jobs at a cost of nearly $90,000 each would be an expensive approach for the federal government. Instead, advocates present the job creation as another benefit of a program with its impetus in conserving resources and averting climate change.
In a conference call Thursday, the authors added other caveats about the report. Bob Pollen, co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at Amherst, said the report is not based on economic modeling of any particular legislation. Instead, it compiled likely spending based on the legislation. Then the analysts used standard numbers for job creation from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
“Green Prosperity: How Clean-Energy Policies Can Fight Poverty and Raise Living Standards in the United States” said federal spending on energy will significantly contribute to improvements in energy efficiency, bringing savings as high as 4 percent of household incomes for some families.