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Thursday, September 23, 2010

GOP Costs South Dakota 5000-10,000 Clean Energy Jobs

The stimulus package is creating jobs, even against fundamental shifts in the nature of our economy. To tackle those fundamental shifts, we need to revamp our economy. That revamping includes revolutionizing the energy economy. Commiting America to a policy of clean, renewable energy would create loads of jobs, including 5000 to 10,000 right here in South Dakota.

But the oil industry's best friend, the Republican Party, has kicked, screamed, and mythologized to keep us from passing any sensible energy legislation this year. Thanks to Republican obstructionism (not to mention some Blue Dog collaboration), America is giving up 1.9 million new-energy jobs to foreign companies. Plus, the defenders of the energy status quo are also keeping an extra $208 million a day from being invested in the U.S. economy, as folks who want to build new-energy businesses say, "Heck, the U.S. won't get serious, but China and Europe will. Let's invest elsewhere!"

In kitchen-table terms, the denialism of Republicans like Senator John Thune and Congress-wannabe Kristi Noem means your household will miss out on as much as $1175 a year in income.

You can read the full report from the nice folks at the Small Business Majority, Main Street Alliance, American Businesses for Clean Energy, and We Can Lead. These are all business groups—business groups—telling the Republicans to get with the program on energy security.

Faint glimmer of hope: Senator Al Franken and some other good liberal Senators are signing on to a bipartisan bill from Senators Bingaman and Brownback to establish a national 15% Renewable Energy Standard. That proposal by itself wouldn't bring all of the above jobs and income back to South Dakota and the rest of the country, but it's an important step in the direction of the energy future that our competitors in the world economy are already embracing.

The Republicans seem determined to apply their "Invisible Hand" wishful thinking to everything. Don't just do something; stand there! The economy will sort itself out. Oil will magically bubble from new holes in the ground. We can keep doing things the way we always have, because we're Americans, and Americans are always right.

Look around, America. The world is changing. The economy is changing. We must change with it... and that means changing our energy policy. Listen to Senator Franken, and fix it now!
Update 17:22 CDT: Of course, 15% RES is small potatoes for real forward thinkers. California is working on requiring investor-owned utilities to go 33% renewable.


  1. Wouldn't these clean energy jobs just replace fossil fuel jobs? It's not a new industry (energy) just a different product.

    The propane truck driver would be replaced by the solar panel tech. Where does the gain come from?

  2. ...perhaps from the fact that those jobs will last after the fossil fuels become too expensive to market, and that we will get our foot in the door to build those new-energy skills and industries before the creative destruction really starts?

  3. Let the Chinese and Indians spend gobs of money to perfect solar and wind, and then we copy their hard work.

  4. Would our country have been better off if new technologies like airplanes, automobiles and computers had been developed in other countries and we had waited until they were "perfected" before we adopted them?

  5. All three mentioned by Nick were perfected by mass production. America doesn't mass produce anymore. That takes place in China, India and SE Asia.

    It's more productive to the American taxpayer to take the end result and mold it to our standards.

  6. Bullshit Thad. Those three were perfected by American engineering expertise. American brain power. Letting other countries move ahead of us in developing new technologies is a guaranteed ticket to second world status.

  7. Thad-

    The US has not stopped mass producing things. We just use robots to do it now instead of people. Our total export value has steadily increased, it has not decreased.

    Also, since we actually respect our intellectual property agreements, we can't just copy things when others get them right. We pay through the nose to use other people's ideas.

    You seem to misunderstand how the global economy is morphing. Everyone is setting up robotic factories to build things, especially anything complex. Intellectual property, or as you call it, "spending gobs of money to perfect solar and wind" is what will make the money in the future. You can't compete against tech products with techs from 20 years ago (patent lifetime).

    There will never be a time when anything is "perfected". There will just be how much things improved over the last 20 years.

  8. "In kitchen-table terms, the denialism of Republicans like Senator John Thune and Congress-wannabe Kristi Noem means your household will miss out on as much as $1175 a year in income."

    The report says that, but I don't follow the logic. From where would households actually get such income? By what mechanism do we stand to lose it? Why this particular amount? The report seems to pull this figure from the air.

    On another tack, South Dakota is at least good for something despite recent self-bashings administered here.

  9. Cory,

    I strongly urge you to indulge your desire for learning and audit a basic economics course.

  10. Stan, South Dakota can turn our good retirement climate status into dollars. But would a culture dominated by retirees, folks who have mostly checked out of the economy except for consumption, be as healthy as a culture relying on manufacturing? Would a retirement culture see less innovation?

    As for the household income logic: I suspect the number is a statistical artifact. The report calculates potential GDP gain; I bet they then simply divide that dollar figure by the number of households. I probably won't see $1175 directly from clean-energy legislation, but folks making new-energy widgets and the folks selling drywall and fancy dog food to the folks making widgets will see a big income boost. (Would that square with the econ course Troy wants me to audit?)

    And even those retirees are going to need energy. There may be enough oil to see the current retiring generation through to the end of their days, but we need that seven-generations perspective.

    Thad, playing catch-up makes me nervous. I'm with Nick: we need to be the groundbreakers. Following is not a good position for America... and right now, it's the position we're in. As Tony says, innovation is constant. We need to stay on top of that cycle so we can produce and market the best products, not just consume them.

  11. All the steel required for South Dakota's current and future needs are buried in landfills and shelterbelts. Yet, the taconite mined in Minnesota gets loaded onto barges and shipped to Europe.

    Much of our petroleum needs are in the form of packaging and plastic bags then buried while the Hills are smothering in water-intensive ponderosa pine whose process into paper yields surplus biofuels.



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