Green Jobs

Howard Learner Crain’s Op-Ed: What Illinois is Doing Right on Climate Change

By Howard Learner

Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center

President Barack Obama emphasized advancing climate change and clean energy solutions as a second-term priority. Let’s recognize Chicago’s and Illinois’ progress on achieving positive climate change solutions with clean technologies that are good for job creation and economic growth. Let’s also seize the opportunities to get more accomplished.

Energy efficiency is the best, fastest and cheapest solution to climate change problems. Energy-efficiency improvements create jobs, save businesses and people money on utility bills, keep money in Illinois’ economy and reduce pollution.

Illinois’ Energy Efficiency Performance Standards drive $500 million in incentives leveraging large-scale HVAC and lighting upgrades and new efficiency strategies. The City’s Retrofit Chicago program should accelerate energy-efficiency building improvements. Full speed ahead now!

Saving energy saves consumers money. Less pollution means better public health and cleaner lakes for all. Why would anyone argue that it’s somehow smart to waste energy and money?

Coal plants emit huge carbon pollution. Progress: The old Fisk and Crawford coal plants shut down, and Chicago’s electricity supply procurement requires “no coal.”

Next: More Chicago-area municipalities should replicate “no coal” in their electricity procurement contracts, and businesses touting sustainability should “buy green, not brown” power. Midwest Generation, which burns Wyoming coal at its nine northern Illinois coal plants, has filed for bankruptcy because the plants aren’t economically competitive. No public bailout, please.

Wind and solar energy development drive new manufacturing and technical jobs, economic growth and pollution-free energy. Illinois is No. 4 nationally for wind-power generation and home to 300 wind and solar supply-chain businesses and 18,000 related jobs. Chicago has 13 wind-power corporate headquarters and hosts the American Wind Energy Association’s annual convention in May. That’s progress.

Next: Illinois’ legislators should update the statutory Renewable Energy Standards, which were based on ComEd’s power supply purchases before all of the municipal aggregations. These adjustments are needed to spur wind-power development here. As technological innovations improve solar panel efficiency, Chicago’s SunShot program can remove barriers to rooftop solar development and convert underutilized “industrial brownfields” into “solar brightfields.” Get the policies right to advance Illinois’ renewable energy economy leadership.

Cleaner, more efficient cars save us money at the gas pump, reduce carbon pollution and improve national security by cutting foreign oil imports. The federal clean car standards require a fleetwide average of 35 mpg in 2016 and 54.5 mpg by 2025.

Next: Chicago, Cook County, Illinois and business fleets should purchase more electric, hybrid and natural gas vehicles. Transit agencies: Keep going. Ford, Chrysler and Mitsubishi Motors: How about building more clean cars at your Illinois plants?

High-speed rail development across Illinois and Michigan will improve mobility, reduce carbon pollution, create jobs and spur economic growth. There are 460 Midwest rail equipment supply-chain businesses, including Nippon Sharyo assembling 130 new rail cars in Rochelle.

Next: The modern Chicago-hubbed Midwest high-speed rail network needs federal transportation funds and a modernized Union Station. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn should lead together and prioritize transforming the region’s rail transportation infrastructure.

Chicago and Illinois are creating jobs and boosting our economy through ways that help solve climate change problems. Let’s be the national leader for solutions.

Howard A. Learner in Times of Northwest Indiana: Green economy helping drive Indiana’s economic recovery

Green economy helping drive economic recovery

By Howard Learner

The election campaigns brought a deluge of hypercharged political sound bites about environmental values even though there’s strong public support for cleaner air that’s healthier to breathe, cleaner water that’s safer to drink and enjoy for recreation, and fewer dangerous toxics in our communities.

The reality: environmental progress is being achieved together with the growing green economy, and it’s helping drive the nation’s economic recovery. Energy-efficient equipment and appliances, wind development, cleaner more fuel-efficient cars and modern rail development are good for job creation, good for economic growth and good for the environment.

The election is over. Let’s discard the SuperPACs’ and defensive polluters’ old myth that we must choose between job creation and environmental progress. Let’s look at how innovative clean technologies are growing Indiana’s economy.

Energy efficiency improvements are creating jobs, saving people and businesses money on their utility bills, and reducing pollution. Johnson Controls and others employ skilled workers retrofitting schools, hospitals, and commercial, industrial and governmental buildings. Saving energy saves consumers money and keeps money in Indiana’s economy. Less pollution means better public health and cleaner rivers and lakes for all. Why would anyone argue that it’s somehow smart to waste energy and money?

Wind power development creates manufacturing, construction and technical jobs, rural economic development and pollution-free energy. Indiana wind turbines produce 1,343 megawatts of electricity, and more development is coming. Wind power is creating new jobs and businesses opportunities for Vela Gear Systems (Carmel, Marion), White Construction (Clinton) and others.

Indiana has much at stake with the federal wind power production tax credit, which expires Dec. 31. President Barack Obama supports extending this tax credit, and Congress must act soon to avoid jobs losses in the wind industry. Indiana politicians should support this policy to keep advancing the state’s renewable energy jobs and businesses.

Cleaner, more efficient cars and trucks save us money at the gas pump, reduce air pollution and improve national security by cutting back America’s dependence on foreign oil. The federal clean car standards will increase fuel economy to a fleet-wide average of 35 mpg in 2016 and 54.5 mpg by 2025. That’s a smart solution, keeping money in Indiana’s economy rather than draining dollars to the Middle East and oil-producing states.

The Obama administration’s leadership in stabilizing and modernizing the American auto industry is a true success story that is especially important for Indiana, with its high percentage of auto-related manufacturing jobs.

Let’s separate sound solutions from the sound bites. We are achieving job creation, economic growth and better environmental quality together. That’s what the public wants, and it’s happening.

Howard Learner is the executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, a Midwest-based environmental and economic development advocacy organization. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer’s and not necessarily that of The Times.

Read this op-ed at the Times website

Howard Learner Talks Iowa’s Green Economy in Des Moines Register

 

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20120712/OPINION01/307120073/?odyssey=nav|head

Published July 12, 2012

Another view: Economy, environment can benefit each other

By Howard A. Learner

The campaign season is bringing hypercharged political sound bites about environmental progress even though there’s very strong public support for cleaner air that’s healthier to breathe, cleaner water that’s safer to drink and enjoy for recreation, and fewer dangerous toxics in our communities.

The best news is that environmental progress is being achieved together with the growing green economy and it’s helping drive Iowa’s and the nation’s economic recovery. Energy-efficient equipment and appliances, wind and solar energy development, cleaner more fuel-efficient cars and modern high-performance rail development are good for job creation, good for economic growth and good for the environment.

Nonetheless, some defensive polluters and politicized critics are hauling out the old myth and false dichotomy that we must choose between job creation and environmental progress. That wasn’t true 30 years ago, and it isn’t true today.

Let’s look at the facts and progress of innovative clean technologies here.

 

Energy efficiency improvements are creating jobs, saving people and businesses money on their utility bills, keeping money in Iowa’s economy and reducing pollution. The Energy Group (Des Moines), Michaels Energy (Cedar Rapids) and Energy Solutions-OTB (Ames) are among the many energy-efficiency businesses employing skilled workers designing and retrofitting commercial, agricultural and governmental buildings, schools and homes.

Saving energy saves consumers money. Less pollution means better public health and cleaner lakes and rivers for all. Why would anyone argue that it’s somehow smart to waste energy and money?

Wind power and solar energy development create manufacturing and technical jobs, rural economic development and pollution-free energy. Wind power is the fastest-growing global energy source, and Iowa ranks second nationally for installed wind power. The Environmental Law & Policy Center’s report on the wind energy supply chain in Iowa shows 2,300 wind-related manufacturing jobs in Iowa.

President Barack Obama called for extending the federal tax incentives in his May 24 speech at TPI Composites in Newton, which manufactures wind turbine blades. Solar is also ready to move forward. That means more work for Eagle Point Solar in Dubuque, Go Solar in Decorah and Inerex in Council Bluffs. Iowa politicians must get the policy framework right to keep advancing the state’s clean energy economy leadership.

Cleaner, more efficient cars and trucks save us money at the gas pump, cut back air pollution, and improve national security by making our country less dependent on foreign oil. They keep money in Iowa’s economy rather than drain dollars to the Middle East, Venezuela and oil-producing states.

 

The Obama administration’s leadership in stabilizing and modernizing the American auto industry is a true success story. The federal clean-car standards will increase fuel economy to a fleet-wide average of 35 mpg in 2016 and 54.5 mpg by 2025. That will save trillions of dollars for America’s economy, create jobs for Americans building the cleaner cars and reduce greenhouse gas pollution. This is a smart solution.

High-performance rail improves mobility, creates jobs and spurs economic growth, and reduces pollution. Midwest supply chain businesses will be manufacturing high-speed rail equipment. Modern, fast, comfortable and convenient rail service connecting Des Moines to Chicago and Omaha and other Midwestern cities is an important third transportation option to highway congestion with higher gas prices and rising air fares with fewer flights.

Gov. Terry Branstad should accept federal funding to upgrade Iowa City-Quad Cities-Chicago passenger rail. This is a sensible solution for our future.

We will soon be overwhelmed by 30-second political attack ads from all sides. Let’s separate sound solutions from the sound bites. We are achieving job creation, economic growth and better environmental quality together. That’s what the public wants and it’s happening.

Howard Learner Op/Ed on AnnArbor.com

ELPC Executive Director Howard A. Learner takes a look at the state of the green economy in Michigan in a guest column published at AnnArbor.com.

Wind and solar development create manufacturing and technical jobs, rural economic development and pollution-free energy. The Environmental Law & Policy Center’sSolar and Wind Energy Supply Chain report shows that Michigan is home to 241 clean energy technology supply chain businesses and 10,000 related jobs.

Michigan is a solar business leader with companies including Patriot Solar Group (Albion), which manufactures trackers for solar panel installations, and Hemlock Semiconductor(Hemlock), one of the world’s largest manufacturers of polycrystalline silicon for solar cells and modules. Some of Michigan’s old-line manufacturing companies like Dowding Industries – Astraeus Wind Energy (Eaton Rapids) are re-tooling to supply growing markets for clean energy equipment.

Read the editorial 

This Earth Day: Jobs, Environment and Economic Growth Together

Earth Day 1970 sounded an alarm.  It launched the modern environmental movement, bringing cleaner air that’s healthier to breathe, cleaner water that’s safer to drink and enjoy for recreation, and fewer dangerous toxics in our communities. Today, the growing green economy is helping to drive the Midwest’s and our nation’s economic recovery.  Energy efficient equipment and appliances, wind and solar energy development, cleaner more fuel efficient cars and modern high-performance rail development are good for job creation, good for economic growth and good for the environment.

Nonetheless, some defensive polluters and politicized critics are hauling out the old, false myth that we must choose between job creation and environmental progress.  That wasn’t true 42 years ago, and it isn’t true today.  Nor do most people believe in that canard.  Let’s look at the facts and progress of innovative clean technologies in the Midwest.

Energy Efficiency Improvements are creating jobs, saving people and businesses money on their utility bills, and reducing pollution.  Johnson Controls, Honeywell, Shaw Group and Sieben Energy Associates are among the many energy efficiency businesses employing thousands of skilled workers retrofitting schools, hospitals, homes and commercial, industrial and governmental buildings.  Saving energy saves consumers money and keeps money in the Midwest regional economy.  Less pollution means better public health and cleaner lakes and rivers for all.  Why would anyone argue that it’s somehow smart to waste energy and money?

Wind and Solar Energy Development create manufacturing and technical jobs, rural economic development and pollution-free energy.  The Environmental Law & Policy Center’s Wind and Solar Supply Chain reports show that :

  • Illinois is home to more than 300 wind, solar and geothermal supply chain businesses and 18,000 related jobs
  • Iowa is home to more than 80 wind supply chain businesses and 2,300 manufacturing jobs, alone.
  • Michigan is home to more than 241 wind and solar supply chain businesses and 10,000 related jobs.
  • Ohio is home to more than 169 wind and solar supply chain businesses and 9,000 related jobs.
  • Wisconsin is home to more than 250 wind and solar supply chain businesses and 12,000 related jobs.

Chicago is home to the headquarters of 13 major wind power companies, making “the Windy City” a global wind industry hub. Old-line manufacturing companies including Brad Foote Gear Works (Cicero, IL), Dowding Industries – Astraeus Wind Energy (Eaton Rapids, MI), A. Lucas & Sons Steel (Peoria, IL), S&C Electric (Chicago, IL), Timken (Canton, OH) and Broadwind – Tower Tech (Manitowoc, WI) are re-tooling to supply growing markets for clean energy equipment.  Iowa is the nation’s #2 state for installed wind power, and Illinois was the nation’s #2 state for new wind power development in 2011.  Wind power is the fastest growing global energy source.  Midwest politicians must get the policy framework right to keep advancing our region’s clean energy economy leadership.

Cleaner, More Efficient Cars and Trucks save us money at the gas pump, cutback air pollution, improve national security by making our country less dependent on foreign oil, and keep money in the Midwest states’ economies rather than drain dollars to the Middle East, Venezuela and oil-producing states.  The Obama Administration’s leadership in stabilizing and modernizing the American auto industry is a true success story, which is especially important for the Midwest with its high percentage of auto-related manufacturing jobs.  Look at just Illinois:  Ford is now adding 1,100 new jobs at its Chicago assembly plant, Chrysler is adding 1,800 new jobs at its Belvedere plant, and Mitsubishi Motors is investing at its Normal plant and promoting electric vehicles.  Automakers and parts suppliers in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana are reviving, and there are new advanced battery manufacturers, especially in Michigan.

The federal clean car standards will increase fuel economy to a fleet-wide average of 35 mpg in 2016 and 54.5 mpg by 2025.  That will save trillions of dollars for America’s economy, create jobs for Americans building the cleaner cars for the future, and reduce greenhouse gas pollution.  This is a smart solution.

High-Speed Rail Development is on track across Illinois with leadership from Democratic Governor Quinn and across Michigan with leadership from Republican Governor Snyder. High-performance rail improves mobility, creates jobs and spurs economic growth, and reduces pollution. Supply chain businesses across the Midwest will be manufacturing equipment for high-speed rail projects.   Wisconsin Governor Walker’s decision to reject $810 million of federal high-speed rail funds and Ohio Governor Kasich’s decision to reject $400 million are missed opportunities, which we hope can be reversed in the future.

Modern, fast, comfortable and convenient trains connecting Chicago to Milwaukee, Detroit and St. Louis and to Cleveland, Des Moines, Indianapolis, Madison, Minneapolis-St. Paul and other Midwestern cities is an important third transportation option to highway congestion with higher gas prices and rising airfares with fewer flights.  This is a sensible solution for our future.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ recent report shows that 3.1 million people hold jobs in green goods and services. Close to 500,000 jobs are in manufacturing, 370,000 in construction and 349,000 in professional, scientific and technical services.  That’s progress.

We will soon be overwhelmed by 30-second political attack ads from all sides.  Let’s separate sound solutions from the sound bites.   We are achieving job creation, economic growth and better environmental quality together.  That’s what the public wants and it’s happening.

New ELPC Study: IL Clean Energy Supply Chain

ELPC released a new study of the clean energy supply chain in Illinois. The study finds that over 300 Illinois companies are working in the wind, solar or geothermal energy industries and employing over 18,000 people in the state. From old-line steel fabricators to high-tech start-ups, renewable energy is powering job growth and launching Illinois to the forefront of the green economy. Download the Report.

Read an article in the Chicago Sun-Times: Alternative energy companies grow jobs, presence in Chicago area

Read an article in the Chicago Tribune: New study defines, identifies green jobs in U.S.

ELPC’s Founding Vision is Becoming Today’s Sustainability Reality

Support ELPC’s Next 25 Years of Successful Advocacy

Donate Now