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Study Shows Clean Energy Creates Lots of Jobs; Fossil Fuel Industry Allies Hide It

2 min. read

Clearly, fossil fuel forces will go to great lengths to denigrate renewable energy. For instance, we've seen them hype false "scandals," like Solyndra, which turned out to be untrue on every level.  We've also heard their repeated refrains about how clean energy supposedly requires heavy subsidies (in fact, fossil fuels receive many times the subsidies that clean energy get) to be competitive with fossil fuels, even as the costs of solar and wind plummet, to the point where they're now cheaper than new coal or nuclear power plants.

In fact, according to a recent Deutsche Bank projection, solar power will reach "grid parity in 50 U.S. states by 2016... setting the scene for a dramatic increase in the uptake in household and commercial rooftop solar." Which is, of course, exactly what the fossil fuel industry is afraid of: that solar, wind, energy efficiency, and other forms of clean energy are poised to out-compete them and ultimately drive them out of business.

It's in that context that we read this article by the Columbus Dispatch.

A state agency paid almost $435,000 for a survey to tally clean-energy jobs in Ohio but never released the results.

The Ohio Development Services Agency says the study went unused because it was based on dubious methods and came to flawed conclusions.

Others, including experts in survey methods, disagree with this assessment and are perplexed by the criticism.

The report, not seen by the public until today, sat on a shelf at a time when its subject matter was relevant to a heated legislative debate about whether to change standards for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

As it turns out, the shelved study found encouraging news for renewable energy jobs in Ohio. For instance, the state "had 31,322 jobs in the state’s 'alternative energy economy' as of 2012, a number that is larger than other commonly cited studies." Why does this matter? The  Columbus Dispatch explains.

Each one of those points could have been relevant in the recent debate over Senate Bill 310, signed by Gov. John Kasich in June. The measure puts a two-year freeze on state standards for renewable energy and energy efficiency, and it makes a variety of other changes that critics say will damage the state’s green economy.

During the debate over the bill, opponents repeatedly said that 25,000 jobs were at stake, a statistic from a 2012 study commissioned by a trade group for green-energy companies. The opponents did not know that the state had paid for a survey that says the industry is 25 percent larger.

What all this demonstrates it that the fossil fuel industry, and the politicians they fund, are nothing if not audacious.  Other words for their behavior would be "shameless" and "dishonest." In this case, the fossil fuel folks' claim that clean energy doesn't create many jobs was proven totally false, apparently causing their allies to scramble to hide evidence showing the exact opposite. Does that sound like an industry confident in its arguments -- or, for that matter, in its very future?