Climate change advocates were given some left-handed leverage in their arguments for pursuing renewable energy sources last Wednesday, as a consortium of energy companies said that carbon-free was becoming a growing industry for new jobs.
Using federal data sources to make their point, a group of businesses said that more than 3 million jobs were created last year in the clean-energy sector.
It is hard to categorically say that “clean energy” is the source of new employment, given the Department of Energy does not list that as a job type. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said that in 2017, 10,000 people were working as solar photovoltaic installers. In contrast, 29,000 people were working in the petroleum industry as “Derrick, rotary drill, and service unit operators” having to do with extracting oil and gas.
Just as the fossil fuel industry supports other positions – jobs at gas stations, for example – renewable power promotes complementary work options in research, construction, and other fields.
Industry leaders have been lobbying in Washington for the Trump administration to support renewable power as an industry, including research that will keep the United States abreast of competitors, like China, where government investment into new energy sources is strong. As such, renewable power in the United States may argue – an argument about jobs – that President Trump will be willing to support, even as he denies climate change is a scientific reality.
“These jobs pay well. They support local economies, and they fuel American innovation,” said Solar Energy Industries Association President and Chief Executive Officer Abigail Ross-Hopper, the former head of the Bureau of Ocean Energy management.
Of course, every industry group wants support from Washington, and the petroleum industry is no exception. To counter claims that renewable power is a great employment option, the American Petroleum Institute notes that there are three times as many jobs under the petroleum umbrella than there are in renewable power.
Maybe, however, all the arguing is moot. “I believe that we as a nation can be both pro-energy and jobs and pro-environment, said Scott Pruitt, director of the U.S. Environmental Agency. “We don’t have to choose between the two.”