WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) held a news conference call to release a report that outlines Ohio’s potential for job growth and development as home to the fifth most green jobs in the nation. Ohio’s clean energy economy has added jobs at a much faster rate than the state’s overall economy. That is why Brown called for the United States to utilize its strength as an innovator at both the state and local levels so that it can compete with countries like China that are quickly cornering the environmental technology market and the jobs that come with it.
“We can’t replace a dependence on foreign oil for a dependence on foreign-made clean energy components,” Brown said. “Today’s report shows how investing in the competitiveness of America’s clean energy industry can create jobs, lower costs for consumers, and boost exports.”
The report, The Green Industrial Revolution and the United States, examines the nation’s potential for growth in this industry and answers the question, “In the Clean Energy Race, Is the United States a Leader or a Luddite?” The report found that the United States has funded its energy efficiency, biofuel, and solar technologies more than any other country in the world in 2011, and continued to lead in the venture capital investment sector. American public and private research and development (R&D), in fact, accounted for 30 percent of the world total that year. China, however, has quickly gained ground due to its own investments and currently has 25 percent of the world’s renewable energy capacity, more than any other nation.
While the U.S. trade deficit with China was responsible for the loss of some 2.7 million American jobs between 2001 and 2011 (nearly 77 percent in manufacturing), the U.S. exported $1.63 billion more in clean energy goods and services than it imported with China. The report found that while China is able to compete with other nations through low-wage labor that drives down the costs of its products, the U.S. competes with other nations with higher-skilled, and more advanced manufacturing jobs that produce components not made elsewhere. If the U.S. chooses to utilize its strengths, and commit to being the world’s leader in renewable energy, it can produce more clean energy goods that would help close the trade deficit and bring more manufacturing jobs back home.
Joining Brown on the call to discuss the report and what it means for the U.S. economy was Robert Borosage, the Founder and President of the Institute for America’s Future and a member of the BlueGreen Alliance Advisory Board; and Kate Gordon, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress (CAP).
“Commerce is uniquely suited to help this regional approach blossom and should take an ambitious role in helping to lead the efforts to secure America’s global leadership in the green industrial revolution,” Borosage said. “The rest of the world isn’t standing by idly while the green industrial revolution happens. A regional approach—with proactive action at the national level—will ensure that we win the race for the family-sustaining jobs and other economic and environmental benefits that the clean economy brings.”
“We’ve seen great successes here at the national level in the U.S.—including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—but our real strength will come from coordinated regional action,” Gordon said. “A one-size fits all approach for everyone won’t cut it. By implementing a regional strategy, we’ll have policies and investments that make sense for the regions.”
Finally, Brown released regional specific information on the number of clean energy jobs in Ohio and highlighted the state’s cities with the largest number of green manufacturing jobs. In total, Ohio has more than 137,000 green jobs, fifth most in the nation. While Ohio’s economy lost nearly 350,000 jobs between 2007 and 2010, Ohio’s clean economy increased by 8.5 percent in that same period. Contributing to this is Ohio’s alternative energy portfolio standard, which was established in 2008, by mandating that 12.5 percent of the state’s electricity must come from renewable sources by 2025. This has helped to drive renewable energy job growth, and as of October 2013, Ohio has 35 utility-scale solar facilities in operation, and 68 more under development.
In August, Brown and U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) introduced the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2013, bipartisan legislation which would establish a Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NMI) to position the United States once again as the global leader in advanced manufacturing. The bill would ensure that the U.S. can out-innovate the rest of the world while creating thousands of high-paying, high-tech manufacturing jobs. Brown and Blunt worked together to pass a bipartisan amendment to the Senate Budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 aimed at supporting the creation of a network of manufacturing innovation hubs.
In June, as the U.S.-China trade deficit continues to widen, Brown introduced the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2013, bipartisan legislation that would reform and enhance oversight of currency exchange rates. Specifically, the bill would use U.S. trade law to counter the economic harm to U.S. manufacturers caused by currency manipulation, and provide consequences for countries that fail to adopt appropriate policies to eliminate currency misalignment.