Moving Montana away from dirty extractive energy production will not only help the earth, it will help Montanans. A new study by a team of researchers at the University of California, using a state-of-the-art forecasting model predicts that “comprehensive clean energy and climate policies would create jobs, increase consumers’ income, and strengthen the U.S. economy as a whole.”
For Montana, the model predicts that we will experience a baseline employment increase of 76,000 jobs between 2010 and 2020. On top of those numbers, policies implemented under cap and trade policies such as those set forth in the American Clean Energy and Security Act or the Senate Clean Energy and American Power Act would create an additional 5,000 to 13,000 new jobs. We could see an increase of $0.1 to $0.5 billion in Montana’s GDP over and above growth without the legislation. Comparisons of a “moderate efficiency case” and a “high efficiency case” showed that the bills would lead to an increase in real household income in Montana of $599 to $1,736 per year more than without clean energy legislation. An earlier study by EPA found that the cost of such legislation nationwide would be around $100 per household on average. Sounds like a pretty good tradeoff to me.
The new study reveals that states like Montana will actually tend to benefit more than others due to our higher energy costs,
Contrary to what is commonly assumed, comprehensive national climate policy does not benefit the coasts at the expense of the heartland states. In fact, heartland states will gain more by reducing imported fossil fuel dependence because they are generally spending a higher proportion of their income on this low employment, high price risk supply chain. Demand side policies make a bigger difference for more carbon-dependent states, and carbon reduction opportunities represent riper and lower hanging fruit.
Implementation of energy efficiencies and cleaner power helps Montana because “energy efficiency reduces import dependence and the costs for transportation, heating, electricity, etc., saving households and businesses money — money they can spend on domestic goods and services, which will create jobs for Americans.” There are a lot of things I don’t like about these bills. Industry has had way too much input on the legislation and a lot of money will be wasted to support coal and oil, but we are running out of time to address critical climate issues and we need a national clean energy policy sooner rather than later.