Despite wildfires, drought, a superstorm and an election, 2012 wasn’t all chaos. As the talking heads debated, the clean energy and transportation sectors continued their quiet but steady upward growth. Companies and communities across the country announced more than 300 projects in 2012 that are expected to create 110,000 jobs, according a report released today by Environmental Entrepreneurs.
Although fossil fuel industry lobbyists and the politicians who love them threatened to eliminate funding and tax incentives, the energy and transportation sectors soldiered on, further proving their value as the future of our economy.
In 2012, clean energy projects created green jobs in every corner of the country and across both Republican and Democratic communities, the report found. In fact, it seems that states with politicians who are traditionally against clean energy were among those to benefit the most from its expansion.
As a region, the Southeast led the country in manufacturing-related clean energy job announcements, with more than 13,700 jobs announced last year, accounting for about 80 percent of the nation’s total. Solar, advanced vehicles and wind energy were the leading clean energy manufacturing industries in the Southeast. In the fourth quarter of 2012, nearly 16,000 clean energy and clean transportation jobs were announced, up from 10,800 in the third quarter, thanks in large part to a 7,000-job light rail announcement in Charlotte, N.C.
Although there was lots of progress, it wasn’t all roses and unicorns for renewable energy companies. Clean transportation jobs aside, several sectors saw sharp declines in the fourth quarter, due in large part to regulatory uncertainty in Congress and during the 2012 election. In the wind industry alone, job announcements fell by more than 60 percent in the quarter in part because of delays by Congress to extend the critical wind industry Production Tax Credit.
“It’s now crystal-clear that clean energy and clean transportation are helping our economy recover,” said Judith Albert, executive director of Environmental Entrepreneurs, a nationwide network of business leaders who advocate for policies that benefit both the economy and the environment. “The projects and job announcements like we saw in 2012 can continue – as long as we don’t let smart energy policies get hijacked by special interests.”
For the complete report as well as a searchable, state-by-state database of clean energy job announcements, see www.e2.org/cleanjobs.