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Public Policy that Builds the Green Economy

Letter to the Editor of the Press Democrat (published 9/24/11)

I appreciate the Press Democrat for carrying David Brooks’ insightful columns. Nonetheless, he mistakenly concludes that government investment in energy efficiency and clean energy does not create jobs (“Where the jobs aren’t,” PD Sept 7)

Professor David Roland-Holst, a UC Berkeley economist, found that investing in energy efficiency pays handsomely. From 1972 to 2007 the State of California’s  investments in energy efficiency created 1.4 million new jobs, with a total payroll of $45 billion and household energy savings of $56 billion.

Similarly, Next Ten, a public interest think tank, found a direct correlation between increases in energy efficiency and renewable energy and jobs generation and economic growth. If California got 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources and increased efficiency by 1.5 percent annually, the study determined it would produce half a million new jobs with over $100 billion in cumulative payrolls over 40 years.  Next Ten also showed that renewable energy generation produces more jobs and economic benefits than fossil fuels while reducing our vulnerability to uncertain global energy markets.

Brooks correctly notes that government does not always pick winners. But neither do private investors. Sensible policy helps create jobs, build the economy and support important national security and environmental objectives.