Written by: Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, CEO of Green For All
Crossposted on The Huffington Post. Read the original post here.
As we launch into this new year, one of the best pieces of news I've heard was the decision by Congress last week to extend important tax credits to one of America's most promising industries: Wind power.
Over recent months, essential job-generating tax credits for American wind companies have been on the chopping block. There has been so much uncertainty about the future of the credits that the wind industry was forced to lay off thousands of workers, while many others faced drastically reduced hours and shrinking paychecks. It hit home for people like Andrew Sipres, a graduate of a green jobs training program for veterans. After serving in the Army, Sipres found a promising career at a Colorado wind turbine plant. But as doubt about the future of federal support for wind grew, his company was forced to slash his hours and lay off nearly 500 of his colleagues.
Now, thanks to the decision by Congress to extend the tax credits, wind companies like his will be able to hire back many of the workers who were laid off, and the industry can continue the strong growth it has shown over the past few years.
In fact, the renewal of the wind tax credits will save roughly 37,000 American jobs, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Those are jobs that matter. And this is just another example of how important the federal government's role is in expanding opportunity and protecting workers in the green economy.
It's smart to back industries like wind, for a number of reasons. First, jobs in clean energy and other green sectors create pathways out of poverty and help American families thrive. Studies show that green jobs pay more and require less formal education than jobs in the traditional economy. That's a winning combination that opens doors into the middle class. And fields like wind tend to create high-wage local work that can't be shipped overseas.
Second, it just makes good sense to put our government's support behind an industry that powers our businesses and slashes pollution at the same time. Wind companies installed a whopping 44 percent of new electrical generating capacity in America last year, according to the Energy Information Administration--more than any other source.
This kind of modern, clean technology keeps us competitive in the global marketplace, while leaving healthier air and water for future generations. Instead of giving tens of billions each year in subsidies to polluting industries like oil, we should be doing more to spur the growth of innovative, American energy that won't run out--like wind and solar.
Investments in clean energy have never been more important than they are now. America is finally getting serious about protecting our neighborhoods from deadly coal and oil pollution, thanks in large part to the efforts of outgoing EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Under Jackson's leadership, our country has made tremendous strides in creating a better future for our kids. Just take a look at the recent EPA safeguards from soot and mercury pollution, which will save tens of thousands of lives. We need to steadily keep moving in this direction--towards a brighter, healthier, and more prosperous future. And every step our national leaders take to support clean, 21st -century energy like wind helps keep us on that path.