Senate climate bill a jobs creator
The bill would create hundreds of thousands of jobs, according to a nonpartisan study.
Thu, May 20, 2010 at 01:51 PM
GREEN JOBS: Sen. John Kerry meets with T. Boone Pickens to discuss the Kerry-sponsored climate bill, which Pickens supports. Pickens is an advocate of alternative energy. (Photo: Harry Hamburg/AP)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A climate change bill unveiled last week in the U.S. Senate would create hundreds of thousands of jobs as the country moves away from fossil fuels and toward more nuclear energy and renewable sources of power, according to a nonpartisan study released on Thursday.
"Between 2011 and 2020, average annual employment in the U.S. increases by 203,000," concluded the study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
The study is the first to assess the economic impact of legislation sketched out by Democratic Senator John Kerry and independent Senator Joseph Lieberman.
U.S. government agencies are in the midst of their own economic analyses, which might not be completed until mid-June.
The Kerry-Lieberman bill, like one passed by the House of Representatives nearly a year ago, aims to cut U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases blamed for global warming by encouraging use of alternative fuels such as natural gas, nuclear, wind, biomass and solar power.
Longer term, the Peterson Institute analysis found that job gains from the first decade of the carbon-reduction plan "are clawed back" as energy prices rise and "additional power sector investment becomes more inflationary."
But the authors said that over the period of 2011-2030, "average annual employment is 6,300 jobs higher than business as usual."
The bill needs at least some Republican support to pass the Senate, but so far no Republicans have said they would vote for it this year, ahead of November congressional elections.
When the Kerry-Lieberman draft bill was made public, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said it was "little more than a job-killing national energy tax."
McConnell was not immediately available for comment on the new assessment.
According to the Peterson Institute study, if the legislation became law, it would bring significant job increases during the first decade in several sectors, including 165,000 in nuclear power, 19,000 in renewable energy, 28,000 in biofuels and 96,000 related to federally-funded coal industry efforts to develop cleaner technology.
On the down side, the study found that 72,000 jobs would be lost through less demand for fossil fuels and canceled construction of new fossil fuel power generating capacity, according to Trevor Houser, one of the authors.
"What greater incentive for action is needed than creating jobs and reducing our foreign oil dependency," Kerry said after the report was made public. "This nonpartisan, hard-headed study ... to fiscal truth-telling should be an economic and security wake-up call."
(Editing by Vicki Allen)
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