Small Businesses Urge US Senate To Let Clean Energy Create Jobs

Today four small business associations came together to release a report that shows an enormous number of U.S. jobs were lost when the Senate failed to pass clean energy legislation in July.

Small Business Majority, Main Street Alliance, American Businesses for Clean Energy and We Can Lead said in their report “A Costly Climate Of Inaction: 1.9 Million Jobs Lost Due To The U.S. Senate’s Failure To Advance Clean Energy/Climate Legislation” that China and other leading nations have gained more than $11 billion in job-creating clean-energy investments – with the U.S. losing an estimated $208 million every day – since the U.S. Senate abandoned comprehensive clean energy legislation in late July.

Essentially the report looks at private investment in clean energy and jobs that private investment would create.  Since the Senate didn’t pass an RES (renewable electricity standard) or any kind of carbon legislation, it sent a message to investors that the country isn’t ready to get serious about clean energy. 

The business associations point out that in the time that passed between the Senate recess and now, China overtook the U.S. to lead a quarterly index of the most attractive countries for renewable energy projects for the first time, according to Ernst & Young.  Additionally, the U.S. has fallen more than $11 billion behind China and other leading nations in clean energy investments.

Their analysis is based on calculations performed in two reports.  The first, from The Pew Charitable Trust, states, “it can be calculated based on existing investment trends that in the 54 days between July 22, 2010 (when the U.S. Senate abandoned the climate bill) and its return to Washington (September 13, 2010), the United States fell $11,269,800,000 ($208 million a day) behind other G20 nations in clean energy investments. And during that same time the U.S. has fallen $21,215,342,466 behind the rest of the world in clean energy investments.

The second set of calculations used in the report came out of the University of California, Berkley. The UCal Berkley analysis states, “the consequences of depriving the U.S. of tens of billions of dollars in private sector investments in clean energy jobs are huge. An analysis of the American Power Act – the last comprehensive climate legislation before the U.S. Senates – showed that it would have created 1.9 million jobs.  When the Senate failed to act, those jobs were lost.”

Other key findings include the following:

  • Nearly 600,000 of the unrealized jobs were lost where they are now needed most — the 10 states with unemployment rates over 10 percent: Nevada (17,000 jobs); California (226,000); Rhode Island (8,000); Florida (78,000); South Carolina (36,000); Mississippi (19,000); Oregon (26,000); Indiana (45,000); Ohio (61,000); and Illinois (68,000).
  • Even states with lower unemployment levels lost hundreds of thousands of urgently needed new jobs, including more than 300,000 jobs in the following states: Arkansas (25,000); Maine (12,000); Massachusetts (40,000); Minnesota (38,000); Missouri (29,000); Montana (13,000); New Hampshire (7,000); New Jersey (11,000); Pennsylvania (78,000); and Virginia (50,000).
  • The lost jobs forfeited by the U.S. Senate include major categories of employment that could have put Americans to work immediately with little or no additional training or education – since a large portion of clean energy jobs require widely-held skills that millions of Americans already have.  

  • The Senate’s failure to take action will have even wider negative economic consequences on American families, including Americans missing out on an increase to annual household income of up to $1,175 per year, and a boost to America’s gross domestic product (GDP) of up to $111 billion – with these huge economic benefits flowing across all 50 states.

With mid-term congressional elections looming, most experts agree that Senate action on clean energy is unlikely.  On a conference call with representatives of these small business associations, however, the group was quick to point out that this is a bipartisan issue and small business owners of all political ilk support clean energy legislation because it will help them compete on a global scale. 

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at

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