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Where Are the Real Jobs? Comparing Renewable Energy and Coal Industry Employment Growth

Categories: Awards

President Donald Trump’s victory in the recent 2016 election can be partially attributed to the subject of the economic impact of job creation. In order to expand jobs, Trump focused his campaign on lifting restrictions off of the coal industry. Having been on a steady decline over the last 50 years, could the promise of a thriving coal industry be made? Since 1980, United States’ coal related jobs have declined from 220,000 to 65,000. This is due to Americans developing an understanding of the negative impact that coal has to both the Earth and their health. On average, 7,500 Americans are still dying each year from coal plant related injuries and illnesses. Coal releases smog into the air when it is burned, causing asthma and chest pains when inhaled. In order to stray away from coal base energy, renewable alternatives were introduced such as solar and wind power. These modern forms of energy promote sustainability of the environment and do not have a negative impact on health. Renewable energy is now being offered at affordable rates, making it more accessible to the average homeowner. The clean energy industry has experienced tremendous growth in its job market, making it the ideal power industry to focus on in terms of job expansion.

Today, more than 500,000 Americans are employed through solar and wind power companies. According to the Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Corporations Program, renewable energy is the fastest growing industry in the United States. With the increase in popularity, more solar companies are manufacturing solar panels at lower costs. This gain in momentum has caused the solar job market to flourish. Jobs within the solar market include installation, maintenance, construction, development, sales, marketing, etc. While it is true that in certain states, the coal industry supplies more jobs, renewable energy provides more jobs throughout the entire country. The largest contributors to the U.S. clean energy job market are Texas, Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina. These states are majority right-wing and supported President Trump in the latest election despite his lack of support for renewable energy. With a large portion of their population being employed by solar energy, it is perplexing why a presidential candidate who does not support renewables was voted into office.

Several states have made the decision to close down their coal plants and retire fossil-fuel burning energy. They are now opening up to the idea of modern, clean energy plants. New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New Mexico have all made plans to close down at least one of their coal-based power plants this year. With new, renewable energy plants being built and opened throughout the United States, employment in the solar industry will continue to advance.  President Trump’s withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement made it clear that his ideals did not align with this clean energy future, but instead showed his support for an expansion of the harmful coal industry. Despite this, the United States is moving forward in fighting climate change. Following President Trump’s withdraw, several states, including New York and California, formed a coalition, to commit to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions put in place by the United Nations. President Trump may cut funding for clean energy research and scale-back environmental regulations, but the evidence still leans towards the renewable energy job market continuing its upward trend.