Clean energy is creating more jobs than fossil fuels and will protect the commonwealth from the worst effects of climate change.

This month marks the first anniversary of the Clean Power Plan, the first major effort by a president to begin the long process of reducing our use of fossil fuels and moving us toward clean renewable energy.

As a small business owner in the energy efficiency/ renewable-energy industry for 11 years, I have a vested interest in helping homeowners and businesses become more energy-efficient. But we all have a vested interest in transitioning to a renewable-energy economy, and companies like ours will gladly lead the way.

Three of us started this company, and we now work in the residential, commercial, health care, education and industrial sectors, deploying energy-efficiency upgrades and renewable-energy installations. We employ more than 20 people here in Pennsylvania, have a small pilot office in Florida and are working on projects in five states. While we have seen steady growth, we now are poised for more substantial and sustainable expansion.

Climate scientists have been sounding the alarm for decades that climate change poses the greatest risk to our economy, our natural resources and the fabric of our nation that we have ever faced. Could 97 percent of climate scientists be wrong? I, for one, am unwilling to gamble with my family’s future, so I am committed to the clean-energy revolution that is sweeping our country.

President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan can help drive that revolution. Every president since Richard Nixon has decried our dependence on oil. The Clean Power Plan addresses our oil addiction by requiring cars and light trucks to get a fleet-wide average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. To help meet this goal, Chevrolet will begin selling an electric car in 2017 that gets more than 200 miles on a single charge. Tesla’s luxury Model S sedan already gets more than 215 miles on a charge; and next year Tesla will begin producing a more affordable car at $35,000 that gets even better mileage.

The Clean Power Plan also will drive the solar-energy industry by requiring new and existing power plants that burn coal and gas to reduce carbon pollution. Just this past year, the number of workers in the solar industry exceeded the number of workers in the coal industry, and the solar sector is growing by 20 percent per year.

Just think: Coal now provides 33 percent of electrical generation. Solar provides less than 1 percent, yet the solar industry now employs more workers than coal. The fossil-fuel industry is machinery-intensive while solar is people-intensive.

Just imagine how many more people we could put back to work if our politicians focused on renewable energy instead of trying to keep the fossil-fuel industry afloat. Even better, solar is clean. We all know that every place the fossil-fuel industry has been, it has left a legacy of polluted air and water and a degraded landscape.

Unfortunately, many of our elected representatives are hindering the transition to clean energy by continuing to oppose the Clean Power Plan. Even though our country invented the modern solar photovoltaic cell, we rank only fourth in installed solar capacity, behind China, Germany and Japan. China has surged to the forefront and is now the world leader, by a substantial margin, in solar capacity. The Chinese understand that their reliance on coal is harming their health and are committed to greatly reducing their dependence on this dirty fuel.

There is no question that fossil fuels enabled our country to grow into the greatest nation on earth. But that growth has come at great cost. Climate scientists forecast that, unless we greatly reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, we will be experiencing temperatures that the planet has not seen for millions of years. Within the next 90 years, Pennsylvania could have the climate of Alabama, with temperatures higher than 90 degrees over entire summers.

We all want a clean, safe and secure environment in which to raise our families. Taking action to reduce carbon pollution is the best thing we can do to safeguard that future. We still have the time and means to protect the planet from the worst impacts of a warming world. All we need is for our elected representatives, who claim they are not climate scientists, to begin listening to those who are.

 

 

via the post-gazette.com

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