While Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) is vetoing bills to promote solar power, Massachusetts is showing Virginians what could’ve been had the state chosen to embrace clean energy.
A new Center for American Progress report details how the Bay State’s clean energy policies have the industry booming, with 64,000 people now working in clean energy jobs in Massachusetts and growing at an annual rate of 7 percent. That’s compared to just 16,907 in Virginia, according to the most recent data I could find in a 2009 Pew report. But even that relatively low number of clean energy jobs dwarfs the number of coal mining jobs in Virginia – just 5,164 in 2011. Across Appalachia, just 59,059 people work in coal mining – and that represents a 14-year high.
Meanwhile, Gov. McDonnell and the Republican-controlled, Dominion Virginia Power-funded General Assembly aren’t just protecting tax giveaways to the coal industry, they’re adding new loopholes to let coal companies like Consol increase their already sky-high profits by polluting more.
Even with a slightly improved 2011 job assessment, “Virginia’s job losses in 2011 were in construction, manufacturing and the information sector” – some of the same industries that would benefit from the move to clean energy. Imagine if Virginia had set strong, mandatory clean energy & energy efficiency standards at the same time Massachusetts did. How many of these stories would we be hearing from across Virginia?
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Cross-posted from The Green Miles