I’m going to stay positive this Earth Day. I know that’s not what you might expect from me this year, but really, when it comes to America’s shift to cleaner, smarter, advanced energy, there’s reason to be optimistic.
- Business is booming…
The advanced energy industry is booming. This includes everything from solar and wind power, to new energy innovations that are smarter and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, like energy storage, electric vehicles, energy efficiency, and demand response.
The industry grew 29 percent in the last five years, and last year was worth $200 billion – about the same size as the pharmaceutical industry. Tesla – a sort of poster child for the advanced energy industry – just passed Ford Motor Company and General Motors in market cap. In fact, the company dropped “motors” from its name last year, a simple recognition that it’s far more than a car company.
- …and that means jobs
There are now more than 3 million clean energy jobs in America, more than twice the number in fossil fuel extraction and electricity generation. Solar and wind industry jobs in particular have seen substantial growth in the past year, outpacing the rest of the U.S. economy 10 times over.
- States are moving forward, with or without Washington
There’s no doubt President Trump’s assault on American clean energy and water protections are dangerous. (I said I was going to be positive. But you can read about President Trump’s toxic agenda and EDF’s fight against it here, here, and here.)
But around the country, there’s been significant progress in the states.
Illinois just enacted the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), an economic development plan that puts clean energy jobs atop the state’s agenda. We estimate the FEJA will create thousands of new jobs and attract more than $12 billion in additional private investment.
California is conducting pilots of residential time-of-use electricity pricing, a new way of rewarding people for conserving energy during periods of high demand. These rates have been available to commercial customers for years, and California will soon roll them out to residential customers across the state.
Many states, including New York, Illinois, and Ohio, have embarked on aggressive reform of their energy policies that will modernize the electric grid and help make, move, and use energy more wisely, and with less pollution.
- Most Americans want cleaner, smarter energy
That’s not an exaggeration. Across the country, conservative republicans and liberal democrats agree on renewable energy (if very little else):
- 83% of conservative republicans and 97% of liberal democrats favor more solar energy.
- 75% of conservative republicans and 93% of liberal democrats favor more wind energy.
- Among all groups, 89% want more solar, and 83% want more wind. The next most preferred energy option is more offshore drilling, at 45%. More than half oppose it.
- Nearly 60% oppose more coal mining.
In other words, the only place where clean energy looks partisan is Washington, D.C.
Stay positive and keep fighting
When it comes to fighting for clean air and water, I like to quote Dutch Meyer, who coached the TCU football team long before I went to school there. Environmental Defense Fund will “fight 'em until hell freezes over. And then we’ll fight 'em on the ice!”
But beyond defending our basic clean air and clean water protections, we have a long history of making progress even when progress seems impossible. The politics in Washington are discouraging, no doubt. But the world is moving toward a cleaner, smarter, advanced energy economy. And Donald Trump can’t stop it.