Study Says Clean Energy Cuts Mean Job Cuts

By Anna Simet | December 06, 2012

This week, I received a news blast from the BlueGreen Alliance highlighting findings from a new Economic Policy Institute paper that details how backpedaling on U.S. clean energy technology investments will result in dramatic job loss.

By backpedaling, I mean dropping from $47.3 billion spent in 2009 to $12.9 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars by 2013, a dip of $35 billion. The paper calculates that would mean about 436,000 fewer jobs. If funding stays the same as it was in 2009, however, the job gains would nearly equal the job gains from canceling the $54 billion cut to defense spending scheduled for 2013 under the Budget Control Act, according to EPI.

In a memo announcing the study, EPI Research and Policy Director Josh Bivens reiterates what I just mentioned above. “It is odd that so much political angst has been expressed over these defense cuts while there has been so little concern over the cutback to support for clean technology, which is already ongoing,” he says.

The memo goes on to point out that in 2009 and early 2010, the Recovery Act’s $90 billion in green economy investments resulted in roughly 1 million jobs created or saved in 2011. “These green investments were particularly effective stimulus because direct spending by governments tends to spur more economic activity per dollar spent than do other forms of stimulus (particularly compared to most  tax cuts) and because green investments tend to have higher labor intensity than does government spending on average,” it says. “Green investments support 1.13 times as many jobs as average spending. In contrast, defense spending supports 0.74 times as many jobs as average spending.”

I know there are many who have a bad taste in their mouth on federal clean energy investment in light of the whole Solyndra situation, but here’s another way to look at it: even though your tax dollars may have gone toward a “failed” project, it’s not really a failure. Those dollars are also supporting jobs and strengthening the economy. And I won’t even start on the whole “we-can’t-achieve-success-in-clean- tech-and-energy-independence-without-trial-and-error-and-live-and-learn,” speech.

Anyway, it’s interesting, and something to think about.  Check out the paper in full here.