By Jennifer Grosso
Louisiana State Representatives proposed three bills to extend the state’s investment in green jobs. As of late July, Governor Jindal has signed all three bills into law. Green jobs not only provide people of all socioeconomic backgrounds with fair jobs that offer adequate wages and benefits, they also provide the economy with the work force needed to support the goals associated with combating global climate change and adapting to an ever-increasing population.
Louisiana House Bill 733 offers companies tax incentives for investing in green jobs. Senate Bill 224, now Act 348, allows local municipalities to issue bonds for local companies to create renewable energy businesses. Representative Erich Ponti of Baton Rouge proposed House Bill 858. The bill expands the terms of an already existing bill concerning wind and solar energy systems; it allows 3rd party residential taxpayers to be eligible for a 50% tax credit, capped at $12,500, on wind turbine or solar panel installation. Supporters hope that the bill will encourage the renewable energy industry to grow and, in turn, create more green jobs.
Federally, the Green Jobs and Infrastructure Act of 2009 is making its way through the legislative system. The bill was introduced in January 2009 and has since been referred to the U.S Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The bill was designed to promote economic recovery by providing $50 billion of loans to manufacturing facilities that produce clean technology products and the parts that they are comprised of. These products include “wind turbines, solar energy products, fuel cells, advanced batteries and storage devices, biomass engines, geothermal equipment, ocean energy equipment, carbon capture and storage, energy efficiency products…products for retrofitting manufacturing facilities” (S. 224). Interested parties must apply to the Secretary of Energy. The Secretary will then determine if loan recipients have a viable market for their product, proof that the investment can be made efficiently, and evidence that the investment will preserve or create jobs. If all of the requirements have been met, the loan will be granted and must be repaid no longer than 25 years after the initial loan was made. Priority will be given to facilities located in regions of the country with the highest unemployment rates.
A publication from the Political Economy Research Institute and Center for American Progress entitled The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy explains how investing in renewable energy creates jobs both directly and indirectly. Most immediately, the expansion of the renewable energy industry will require specially trained technicians to install the new technology. Perhaps not as obvious are the jobs that will be needed to support the industries that renewable energy technologies rely on, including but not limited to construction, lumber, steel and transportation. The studies claim that for every $1 million invested in renewable energy, 16.7 jobs are created as opposed to the 5.3 jobs that are created by an equal investment in non-renewable energy. Accordingly, the Blue-Green Alliance reports that if we were to require 20% of our country’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020, 820,000 jobs would be created in the process.
The benefits produced by green jobs extend beyond employment numbers alone. Once employed with green-collar jobs, employees will have the satisfaction of knowing their job is secured in a growing industry with a high demand for employees. Furthermore, environmentally minded people in all regions of the country can have the opportunity to turn their commitment to their jobs into a commitment to the environment, and vice versa.