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We Need to Transition Our Energy Infrastructure

By transitioning our energy infrastructure from capital-intensive, risky, and often highly polluting energy sources to clean, labor-intensive energy sources we can create many new jobs, grow our middle class, ensure greater energy security, and protect our nation and planet from the predictable ravages of unchecked climate change.

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Last year threw into stark relief America’s interlinked economic, energy security, and climate crises. On the economic front Americans called out those lawmakers who work relentlessly to build an economy that works for the wealthy few rather than for all of us, but faced determined resistance from conservatives bent on preserving the status quo. At the same time our nation’s debilitating dependence on fossil fuels and the damages caused by climate disruption became ever more obvious. Yet here too conservative resistance was implacable. Backed by climate-science deniers and opponents of clean energy-generously funded by their industry backers-conservatives ramped up their campaign of disinformation about dirty energy to push their pollution-promoting policy advocacy work in Washington and around the nation.

The result: seemingly insurmountable gridlock.

And yet 2011 also was a year of historic clean energy investments. The United States passed China to become the global leader among nations in clean energy investment, and new data revealed the startling growth of several clean energy sectors in years of sluggish growth for the overall economy. These trends are further evidence of how our economic, energy, and climate crises offer enormous opportunity to build a clean energy economy that makes America more secure, competitive, and equitable. By transitioning our energy infrastructure from capital-intensive, risky, and often highly polluting energy sources to clean, labor-intensive energy sources we can create many new jobs, grow our middle class, ensure greater energy security, and protect our nation and planet from the predictable ravages of unchecked climate change.

In fact, as Jason Walsh and Kate Gordon argue, we can take steps today that will get us on the path toward achieving three critical goals:

  • Producing more clean energy to grow the economy
  • Reducing pollution while saving energy and dollars
  • Building more resilient and balanced economies and communities

These goals remain achievable even in today’s gridlocked political environment.

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