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2M U.S. Jobs Seen in Clean Energy

Sep 11, 2008 - Monica Chen - The Herald-Sun - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

DURHAM -- A green jobs plan paid for with auctions of carbon permits could net North Carolina $2.9 billion over the next two years and 62,015 new jobs, according to a just-released report.

The Center for American Progress and the University of Massachusetts' Political Economy Research Institute propose that a total of $100 billion for the entire country could be raised with proceeds from auctions of carbon permits under a global warming cap-and-trade program.

To be more specific, the program would drive private investments into clean energy and raise public revenue through carbon permit auctions, according to the report, called "Green Recovery -- A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy."

A cap-and-trade program works by the federal government setting a cap on the maximum amount of pollution the U.S. could create annually. The biggest polluters would have to buy a credit -- essentially paying for the right to pollute.

The report finds that clean energy investments would create four times as many jobs as spending the same amount of money in the oil industry, according to a news release.

"It goes a long way toward making our environment safer and cleaning up our water and air... and creating new jobs," said Dan Crawford, director of governmental affairs at the Conservation Council of North Carolina, one of several in-state environmental groups in support of the report.

"Any time you can make a double hit like this, I think it's a safe investment for North Carolina," Crawford said.

The report proposes that the $100 billion of initial investments would fund the following: $50 billion for tax credits for private businesses and homeowners for building retrofits and new investments; $46 billion in direct government spending to support public building retrofits and expand mass transit; and $4 billion for federal loan guarantees.

Colin Hagan, the federal policy associate with Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said he was most pleased with the scale and pace of the proposal.

"We could stand to see more investment, but $100 billion is a great start in terms of investments and solutions nationally," he said.

"The other thing is also the rate, or the pace at which this report is calling for the investment," Hagan said. "It's a good timeframe... If they were calling for $100 billion over 30 years or 50 years, it would have less of an effect than over a two-year period."

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, a nonprofit group, is another North Carolina organization that's in support of the proposal.

Hagan said the feasibility of the plan and the likelihood it could be implemented is increasing.

"With the energy crisis and with some more short-term concerns, it looks like we'll be waiting until 2009 or the beginning of the next congressional sessions to introduce climate change," he said.

"This isn't the end. This is just the tip of the iceberg and is indicative of the benefits in clean energy solutions and finding solutions to climate change," Hagan said.