Congress Should Support a Strong RES That Will Create Millions of New Jobs

By Bob Cleaves
Congress is crafting a federal renewable electricity standard (RES) to help create new jobs in the renewable energy sector and help America reach energy independence. The Biomass Power Association is urging Congress to adopt a federal mandate for all states to produce at least 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources such as biomass. It is time to create the legislative framework to move the U.S. away from foreign oil and other fossil fuels that have harmful effects on the environment, and create new green jobs in the process.

The RES-Alliance for Jobs, a coalition of businesses and organizations that support the congressional enactment of a strong RES, recently commissioned an economic analysis of the impact of a national RES of 25 percent. The Navigant study, released in February, concluded that a 25 percent RES by 2025 would result in the creation of an additional 274,000 renewable energy jobs nationwide and a cumulative 2.36 million job years of work.

The Navigant study is the first comprehensive analysis of potential jobs created specifically in the biomass power industry. For years, the southeastern region of the U.S. has resisted any type of renewable energy mandate because many southeastern states lack the wind and solar power necessary to meet those goals. According to the study, however, the southeast region has the opportunity to create hundreds of thousands of jobs in clean, renewable biomass power under a 25 percent RES by 2025.

The study found that in the biomass power industry alone, more than 60,000 jobs would be created from 2009 to 2025 under a 25 percent RES. The majority of the jobs will be created in the eastern part of the U.S., where there is currently an abundant supply of biomass, but few biomass power facilities.

Legislation being proposed in both houses of Congress, unfortunately, does not go far enough toward meeting these goals. In fact, both the House and Senate versions of the RES have almost no substantive effect on job creation and essentially maintain the status quo. An increase to a 25 percent renewable electricity mandate, however, would have a substantial positive impact on the economy, the environment and America's long-term energy security.

The study also shows that any standard that falls short of 25 percent by 2025 will only have minimal positive impacts on the economy and the environment. Instead of making meaningful investments in renewable energy technologies, states will look for loopholes and efficiency credits to meet low federal requirements. The BPA fully supports steps toward increased efficiency, however, building a green energy economy and reducing our reliance on foreign oil requires a serious shift to American sources of renewable energy, such as biomass power, wind, solar, geothermal and others.

At a time of 10 percent unemployment, Congress should seize this opportunity to pass strong energy legislation that puts America on a new path toward energy independence built on domestic, clean, renewable sources of energy. The Navigant jobs study provides a clear guide to creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in the biomass power industry and outlines the significant economic benefits of an aggressive RES. The BPA and the RES-Alliance for Jobs will continue to urge Congress to support a meaningful mandate for renewable electricity of 25 percent by 2025.

The Navigant study can be found at

Bob Cleaves is president and CEO of the Biomass Power Association. To learn more about biomass power, please visit