U.S. Senate candidate Rodney Glassman today announced a 21st-century jobs agenda to put Arizona on the cutting edge of the green industry revolution as well as improve America's national security and the country's long-term economic vitality.
While John McCain has been on all sides of this issue, all he seems to be able to say now is "Drill, baby, drill." For 28 years he has made a career of refusing to bring Arizona's tax dollars home -- money that could be invested in clean energy, green industry and the kinds of jobs that will define the new century. The city of Portland, Ore., receives more federal solar energy dollars than does the entire state of Arizona.
Arizona has abundant sunshine, enough to make it the solar capital of the world. It also has some of the top researchers in the fields of ecology, water resources, optics and other sustainable fields. Glassman's plan includes bringing these researchers and innovators together with industry leaders to chart a course for Arizona's green future -- a future that includes more investment in clean energy research, as well as tax credits to spur innovation and sustainable industry expansion.
"With the right investments and the right leadership, Arizona can be an engine driving the new economy, creating jobs and improving our national security," Glassman said.
Countries like Germany and China are not waiting. They are pouring massive investments into clean-energy research. In 2009, Germany overtook the United States as a key location to invest in technologies like solar and wind. In the second half of last year, China increased its renewable-energy investment subsidies to consumers by almost 200 percent, according to Ernst & Young. To compete on the global stage, we need to elect lawmakers who are ready and eager to support initiatives necessary to spur innovation and sustained growth in these developing industries -- industries that will continue to bring jobs and stability to Arizona's economy.
"We can't keep sending money to oil-producing countries that fund our enemies," Glassman said. "America should settle for nothing less than standing at the forefront of the evolving global economy and cannot afford to simply maintain our current practices and hope for the best. "Drill, baby, drill,' is not a plan, and we can't afford to wait."
* Germany leads the United States in photovoltaic energy production, adding 2,600 Megawatts in 2009. The United States added just 500 megawatts of photovoltaic production in 2009.
* China now invests $34 billion in renewable energy production, nearly double the $18 billion the United States invests.
* A 2009 study by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, in partnership with the Center for American Progress, found that investing $150 billion in clean energy produces a net gain of 1.7 million new jobs and reduces the unemployment rate by one full percentage point. It also creates pathways out of poverty by expanding job opportunities to low-income working Americans, with roughly 870,000 out of the projected 1.7 million clean-energy jobs accessible to workers with high school degrees or less.
* A 2004 study done by the nonpartisan Perryman Group in Waco, Texas, in conjunction with the Apollo Alliance, found that a $300 billion investment in a clean-energy future would create more than 3.3 million new jobs spread across every state in the country.
* A June 2009 report from Pew Charitable Trusts shows that clean-energy jobs grew by 9.1 percent between 1998 and 2007, while total jobs grew by only 3.7 percent. The industry is ready to take off, with the right leadership.
* According to the 2009 Green Collar Jobs report from the American Solar Energy Society, renewable energy and energy efficiency industries can create 37 million jobs by 2030 as long as policymakers support their development.
* Governments last year gave $43 billion to $46 billion of support to renewable energy through tax credits, guaranteed electricity prices known as feed-in tariffs and alternative energy credits, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That compares with the $557 billion that the International Energy Agency recently said was spent to subsidize fossil fuels in 2008. The oil industry is not winning a fair economic fight.
* The clean-energy sector produces more jobs per dollar than the fossil fuels industry because a larger share of clean-energy expenditures goes to manufacturing, installation, and maintenance -- far more labor-intensive than the extraction and transportation sectors that comprises most fossil fuel jobs.
Glassman 21st-century Jobs Plan:
Create the National Institutes of Sustainability, modeled after the National Institutes of Health, to distribute research grants throughout academia and business, which would encourage knocking down barriers between academia and industry. NIH funding led to the discovery of DNA, and continues to advance the fundamental research necessary to push American medical science to new frontiers. The National Institutes of Sustainability would help to dissolve the barriers between academic institutions, such as Arizona State University's Global Institute of Sustainability, and the industries that rely on ASU graduates and their research.
Invest $30 billion annually into energy innovation research and development, including support for development and implementation of advanced manufacturing processes to lower costs and improve efficiency of green energy platforms. And we would still trail China.
Phase in reductions of fossil fuel subsidies and divert that money into direct investment to create a clean energy grid. The federal government subsidized the oil, coal and natural gas industry with $72 billion between 2002 and 2008. Renewable, 21st-century energy received just $12.2 billion not related to ethanol.
Make permanent the solar and research and development tax credits that are set to expire in the short and immediate term, denying businesses the certainty they need to make long-term investments. These credits come in the form of income tax credits, production tax credits and grants based on the property value of solar industries. They are set to expire in 2016.
Call for a Clean Energy and Water Resources Summit to bring industry experts, leading researchers and the appropriate government agencies together with venture capitalists to discuss how to turn Arizona into a world leader in sustainable technologies. There are other ideas that could be pursued if we bring people around the table and listen to them. This summit would focus on 21st-century industries that will allow for economic expansion without environmental devastation. Arizona's universities are already leading the way in these fields.