Critics of President Donald Trump’s executive order repealing the Clean Power Plan are warning that the move will have terrible consequences for workers as well as Utah’s growing green energy sector.
Utah currently ranks 14th for solar energy employment. The number of jobs in the solar industry grew by 65 percent in 2016 according to The Solar Foundation. Lindsay Beebe of the Utah Sierra Club said that attacking the green energy sector is to neglect a growing employer in the Beehive State.
“One of the biggest bright spots in Utah’s economy has been the growth of this clean energy industry. Gutting the Clean Power Plan is an attack on this industry. According to the Department of Energy 2017 energy jobs report, there are nearly 38,000 Utahns who work in clean energy. That’s more than who work in coal and gas combined,” Beebe said.
In 2015, Environmental Entrepreneurs ranked Utah fourth in the nation for clean energy job growth. Meanwhile, the Energy Information Administration estimates that coal production in the United States declined 18 percent from the year before. Beebe added that gutting the Clean Power Plan will only deter resources away from equipping workers for the jobs of tomorrow.
“Coal plant workers, coal miners, the people on the ground have the most to lose from the assumption by policy makers that the coal industry will recover. It’s the time now to start to think about how to protect workers’ pensions, establish workforce development opportunities, and to attract new industries to communities,” Beebe said. “With this rescission of the Clean Power Plan, we are not going to see that investment in these rural communities who do depend on fossil fuel extraction for their livelihood.”
17,000 Utahns use rooftop solar panels to directly power their homes.