Trump's Energy Policies Could Hurt Sector's Biggest Job Creator
CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- President Donald Trump's energy policies, promising a new era of job creation by shoring up fossil fuels, could put the brakes on renewable energy - the energy sector's largest job creator.
Connie Wilbert, president of the Sierra Club's Wyoming chapter, points to new analysis of federal data that shows clean-energy jobs outnumber all fossil-fuel jobs by nearly 3-to-1, and there are five jobs in renewables for every one job in coal and gas.
"There are so many more jobs, if you look regionally, in the renewable clean-energy sector than there are in the fossil fuels sector right now - and even here in Wyoming,” Wilbert said.
According to the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, there were nearly 8,000 clean-energy jobs in the state in 2015 - compared with 6,600 coal-mining jobs. Trump's proposed budget would cut funding for programs that support clean-energy innovation, as well as energy efficiency, which alone provides more than 2 million jobs nationally.
Wilbert said Wyoming should join other western states with energy portfolios that prioritize efficiency and renewables to help families save money and create even more living wage jobs. She said as the economics of the sector continue to favor cheaper and cleaner sources such as wind and solar, it's time for the state to stop fighting a losing battle to keep coal.
"And start thinking about how we can take advantage of the shift away from fossil fuels and make that work for us here in Wyoming so that we can benefit from it like all these other western states already are,” she said.
On Wednesday, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke lifted a moratorium on new coal leases established under the Obama administration. According to a Republican polling firm, 3 out of 4 Trump voters say the government should speed up clean-energy production, and only 38 percent think coal should be a priority.