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Keep Job and Economic Growth Going; Keep the Clean Power Plan

The following article was published in the Op-Ed section of the Kansas City Business Journal on February 22, 2108.

The Clean Power Plan is one of the more important and far-reaching economic growth measures enacted by our federal government in the past several decades. It is also our country’s first-ever commitment to reduce the output of carbon emissions.

Technically, the Clean Power Plan set the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants in the United States, the largest source of pollution in the country and a major driver of climate change.

In times past, economic growth and environmental protection measures like the Clean Power Plan were presented to us as an “either-or” proposition: you can have one, but not the other. But we now know that economic growth and environmental protection work together to all our benefit.

In short, what’s good for our environment is good for our economy. This is borne out by data showing that the number of jobs in clean energy is not only increasing, but is increasing at faster rates than nearly every other job sector in the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, right now the two fastest-growing job titles in America are ‘solar installer’ and ‘wind turbine service technician.’

These jobs are our present and our future. I know this because, as the founder of a solar design and engineering company in Platte County, I see it every day.

In Missouri, clean energy jobs are growing at a rate three times faster than the overall rate of job growth in the state. In Kansas, the rate is nine times faster. According to the report “Clean Jobs Missouri” by non-partisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), over 55,000 people in Missouri and 29,000 people in Kansas work in the clean energy industry, which includes renewable energy generation (i.e. solar and wind), energy efficiency, advanced transportation, and other sectors.

In the Kansas City Metro Area (Kansas and Missouri), there are nearly 16,000 people employed in clean energy.

These are good paying jobs that are local and can’t be outsourced. And they promote additional investment throughout the supply chain, creating additional jobs along the way.

The clean energy job growth we are seeing here is being replicated across the Midwest and the rest of the country. Sadly, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in the process of holding listening sessions across the country -- including one in Kansas City on February 21 -- to get public input on its plan to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, which is helping to drive the consumer demand for and investment in clean energy that is fueling this job growth.

It is my hope that people from across our region will contact the EPA to tell them that getting rid of the Clean Power Plan is a bad deal for our regional and national economy.

How bad? An analysis by E2 shows that if the EPA scrapped the Clean Power Plan, Missouri alone would lose out on 13,400 new jobs and $1.1 billion in added gross domestic product by 2030. Nationally, we would forgo up to 560,000 new jobs and $52 billion in gross domestic product.

It’s that bad.

The EPA’s proposal to dismantle the Clean Power Plan would be a huge hit to our regional and national economies, throwing a wrench into the gears of economic progress at the precise moment the clean energy economy is taking off. Getting rid of the Clean Power Plan will also negatively impact public health and the cleanliness of the air we breathe and water we drink.

I urge you to contact the EPA and your federal elected officials to tell them to support job and economic growth by protecting the Clean Power Plan. Make sure they know that protecting the environment is good for our economy.

Bob Solger

Managing Partner, Solar Design Studio

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