Colorado or China?

The West’s Vast Clean Energy Potential

During recent trips to the West, Mitt Romney said both that he doesn’t understand “what the purpose” of our public lands is and that clean energy jobs don’t exist. This perhaps explains in part why Mitt Romney is willing to cede the clean energy industry — and its jobs — to China.

Well, a new report out from our colleagues at the Center for American Progress shows that not only do they exist today, but that the American West has tremendous potential for billions more in clean energy investments and hundreds of thousands of additional jobs.

Let’s run through the highlights of that report.

More Than 500,000 Green Jobs Today

A recent Bureau of Labor Statistics study reflects this success, determining that in 2010, “green goods and services” accounted for:

  • 49,717 jobs in Arizona
  • 338,445 jobs in California
  • 72,452 jobs in Colorado
  • 17,254 jobs in Nevada
  • 21,267 jobs in New Mexico
  • 27,948 jobs in Utah

This comes to 527,083 jobs altogether in these six states.

Overwhelming Public Support for More Clean Energy Investments

When it came to comparing fossil fuels and renewables, western voters were far more likely to encourage more wind and solar power over coal and oil.

Billions More in Potential Investments, Hundreds of Thousands of Jobs

If we put the right set of policies in place, the West’s potential for new investments — and new jobs — is vast.

How many jobs would these investments create? A lot.

Just today, the Obama administration announced it was expediting seven major wind and solar projects in four Western states.

Check out the full report for all of the details about exactly how we could make even more happen.

And of course if these incentives weren’t enough, there’s the fact that we must do more to fight the increasingly urgent threat of climate change. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), speaking today at the National Clean Energy Summit, pointed to this year’s extreme weather events:

This year alone, the United States has seen unparalleled extreme weather events – events scientists say are exactly what is expected as the earth’s climate changes.

The Midwest is experiencing its most crushing drought in more than half a century – or maybe ever. Presently, disasters have been declared in the majority of U.S. counties. More than half the country is experiencing drought, and seventy-five percent of the nation is abnormally dry this year. […]

And our nation’s infrastructure is literally falling apart because it wasn’t designed to withstand these conditions. Runways are melting, trapping planes. Train tracks are bending, derailing subways. Highways are cracking, buckling and breaking open. The water used to cool power plants – including nuclear power plants – has either run dry or reached dangerously high temperatures.

And that’s just in the United States – just through the month of July.

And Reid pulled no punches when it came to climate deniers:

The seriousness of this problem is not lost on your average American. A large majority of people finally believe climate change is real, and that it is the cause of extreme weather. Yet despite having overwhelming evidence and public opinion on our side, deniers still exist, fueled and funded by dirty energy profits.

These people aren’t just on the other side of this debate. They’re on the other side of reality.

It’s time for us all – whether we’re leaders in Washington, members of the media, scientists, academics, environmentalists or utility industry executives – to stop acting like those who ignore the crisis or deny it exists entirely have a valid point of view. They don’t.

As Sen. Reid also said in his speech, the time to act isn’t later. The time to act is today.

Evening Brief: Important Stories That You May Have Missed

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The Koch Brothers attacked Zack Galifianakis today.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Advocacy Team