Letter to the Editor: So-called “Fiscal Party” won’t support green economy

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Solar panels above the Marriott Library. | Chronicle archives

By Letter to the Editor

 

The views expressed in this letter are not from a writer at the Daily Utah Chronicle and do not express the views of the opinion desk or the Chronicle as a whole.

 

As I turn on the TV, I am bombarded by talking heads about the effects of climate change. I change the channel and hear that we have twelve years to stop irreversible damage from our planet. I change the channel one more time — this time, it’s Fox News. They spew climate hoax rhetoric and claim that under our new administration, our economy has never been better. The right wing loves to claim that the GOP is the “fiscal party.” They claim to be experts on economic growth, tax cuts, job creation and a myriad of other issues regarding the economy. So if this party is so keen on helping America grow, why aren’t they full speed ahead on the green energy sector?

According to the Economic Policy Institute, “Greener industries grow faster than the overall economy… States with greater green intensity have generally fared better in the current economic downturn… Green jobs are accessible to workers without a college degree… Manufacturing plays a strong role in the green economy… Green jobs go beyond the renewable energy industry.” With all of the facts right in front of us, why are Republican policymakers hesitant to support policy like the Green New Deal? Why did Donald Trump back out of the Paris Climate agreement? Surely supporting policy like this would bring new jobs in solar, wind, hydroelectric, nuclear and all other forms of renewable energy.

Instead, Donald Trump on the campaign trail promised advancement of “clean coal.” Clean coal is an intentionally vague term that could mean carbon capture technology. Carbon capture technology is costly and complex, only one plant in the United States currently uses this technology, and it was funded with a grant through the Obama administration.

According to the New York Times, another plant in Mississippi was planning an ambitious carbon capture project, but had to abandon it after it ran $4 billion over-budget. To add insult to injury, Trump’s budget for 2018 proposed an $85 million dollar cut to the Office of Fossil Energy, the office that funds research for “clean coal” technology. So not only is the GOP defunding the part of the energy sector they claim to support, but by supporting fossil fuels, they are not taking advantage of the economic growth and new jobs from green energy.

Whoever is voting conservative because they believe it’s better for the economy is obviously not looking very closely. Sarah Wright of the Utah Clean Energy Coalition stated that a majority of voters support transition to green energy. She also said that by doing so, there would be portions of the country that would be disproportionately affected by the switch. It is unfortunate that there will likely be jobs eliminated, but of course there would be some gaps — an entire industry is changing! LuckILy for those who might be affected by the inevitable switch, the green economy will have low skill and high skill jobs, there are task forces planning on putting economic benefits back into the affected communities, and it’s ever growing. If we can save the planet and profit off of it at the same time, why are we not doing so? It’s up to us to ensure another generation has clean air, clean water, plentiful jobs and advancements in science and technology. We are only hurting ourselves and our posterity if we do not act now.

— Wyatt Hendricks, University of Utah Student