From: Susan Richardson Williams and Cortney Piper, Knox News, Environmental Health News, More from this Affiliate
Published December 28, 2009 06:10 AM

Climate bill, clean-energy industry key to Tennessee's economic revival

It's not often that East Tennessee Republicans and Democrats find common ground on important issues. However, comprehensive federal climate and energy policy as a means to boost our economy and create jobs is something this former Tennessee GOP chair and East Tennessee Democrat agree on.

So, we've launched a project, TN Business Leaders for a Clean Energy Economy, to help realize our clean energy economic potential.


To begin with, let's set aside the issue of climate change or global warming. You can argue that topic with climate scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory or Al Gore if you like. We prefer to focus on what will be the next economic driver in our state and the policies and investments that will help get us there.

Federal clean-energy policies that invest in renewable energy and energy efficiencies and reduce carbon pollution from our economy will create jobs in Tennessee.

A recent study by a consortium of economists from three universities found that, if polices implemented in the House-passed version of the climate and energy bill were enacted today, Tennessee stands to gain up to 20,000 jobs.

This is the first study that weighed all three components of the bill: capping carbon, renewable energy and energy efficiency. It found the stronger the policies, the more Tennesseans stand to gain economically.

Clean-energy technology promises to be a financially powerful driver, more so than any previous growth industry. Ernst & Young estimates that U.S. clean-tech investments totaled $4.7 billion in 2008, a 68 percent increase from the previous year.

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