As I noted in yesterday’s posting on the auto industry, policymakers are beginning to look seriously at the question of whether new green technologies will actually be produced in the US. For all the talk of “green jobs,” the stickiest of them are actually construction related – dealing with installation and retrofitting. These are not the highest-value added parts of the “green” value chain. Nor are green jobs necessarily even good jobs – as a new report from the Good Jobs First coalition – High Road or Low Road? Job Quality in the Green Economy.
We are likely to be hearing more and more about the issue of both US manufacturing and good jobs as the debate over an energy bill and climate change legislation continues. As the Wall Street Journal noted last month:
Congress is beginning to fear that the Obama administration’s push for renewable energy will produce more jobs in Asia and Europe — where most wind turbines and solar panels are made — than in the U.S.
The proposed remedy is a provision in the economic-stimulus bill that offers tax breaks to U.S. producers of the equipment.
Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D., N.M.), chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is urging support for a provision in the Senate version giving a 30% tax credit to companies that expand or build U.S. manufacturing facilities geared to renewable energy, clean transportation or electric-system upgrades.
“Several of us have come to recognize that we’ve outsourced the very things we’re going to need to change the nation’s energy mix, and this is a way of encouraging more manufacturing here at home,” Mr. Bingaman said.
That provision is in the final bill – Sec. 1302. Credit for Investment in Advanced Energy Facilities. It is a good step forward. I expect we will see additional steps in future legislation.