Take This Jobs (Argument) and Shove It!

Across the climate movement, we are constantly bumping into the false dichotomy of JOBS vs. Everything Else. Every piece of common sense can apparently be  defeated with 4 dang letters — Human health? Jobs! Long term economy? Jobs! Destroying water resources for the eastern seaboard? Jobs! Air pollution causing tens of thousands of pre-mature deaths a year? Jobs!

Now, granted, I like jobs, but, remember this is a false dichotomy — as Judy Bonds says, “There are no jobs on a dead planet.” In December, the Coal River Wind Project produced an extensive study that showed that a wind farm would create more than a million (yes, million!) dollars more tax revenue each year in the county than a mountaintop removal site, and that it would take only 27 years for a wind farm to produce more job hours than a strip mine. 

However, these are hypotheticals, the Coal River Wind Project remains in jeopardy.  Now, we have proof that wind can beat coal in the jobs and economy argument. According to CNN Money.com: The wind industry now employs more people than coal mining in the United States. 

Wind industry jobs jumped to 85,000 in 2008, a 70% increase from the previous year, according to a report released Tuesday from the American Wind Energy Association. In contrast, the coal industry employs about 81,000 workers. (Those figures are from a 2007 U.S. Department of Energy report but coal employment has remained steady in recent years though it’s down by nearly 50% since 1986.) Wind industry employment includes 13,000 manufacturing jobs concentrated in regions of the country hard hit by the deindustrialization of the past two decades.

The big spike in wind jobs was a result of a record-setting 50% increase in installed wind capacity, with 8,358 megawatts coming online in 2008 (enough to power some 2 million homes). That’s a third of the nation’s total 25,170 megawatts of wind power generation. Wind farms generating more than 4,000 megawatts of electricity were completed in the last three months of 2008 alone.

Another sign that wind power is no longer a niche green energy play: Wind accounted for 42% of all new electricity generation installed last year in the U.S.

This article doesn’t mention that coal mining jobs have been decreasing dramatically because of the mechanization of coal mining, which has resulted not only in fewer jobs, but also in the terrible stip mines in the Powder River Basin and Black Mesa, as well as mountaintop removal coal mining.

11 Responses to “Take This Jobs (Argument) and Shove It!”


  1. 1 R Margolis Jan 29th, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Thought this might be interesting:

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=96890387

    The story details how wind turbine manufacturers talk a good game about lots of high paying jobs, but seem to be only interested in paying low wages. The renewables industry needs to catch up with the rest of the power sector in order to recruit the necessary talent. The good news is that the skilled craft needed by the renewable sector is similar to the rest of the power industry (e.g., electricians, welders, pipefitters, etc.).

    I know that money isn’t everything, but if the economic difference is too high, the renewables will have trouble competing for talent.

  2. 2 danawv Jan 29th, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    That is a good point. I often say that we need to take all industries with a grain of salt. There is a lot of potential for exploitation of workers, land and people with big energy of any kind, including wind. We need to be vigilant and take control of the power in our communities.

  3. 3 Jesse Jenkins Jan 29th, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Great post (and great news!) A. Siegel has an excellent post pulling together these many threads here as well: “The Jobs are Blowing in the Wind” (also up at WattHead – Energy News and Commentary)

  4. 4 greenferret Jan 29th, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    The jobs argument is going to be used by the coal industry as it continues its campaign to sacrifice our planet’s future for short-term profit.
    GreenChange.org is telling President Obama and Congress to introduce a moratorium on new coal and nuclear plants. Future generations will thank us for moving from dirty, dangerous fuels to safe, green energy. Find out more at http://tinyurl.com/alp453

  5. 5 Kai Bosworth Jan 29th, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    I’ve heard numbers about potential of job creation, but the fact that wind jobs are already ahead of coal?! That’s fantastic!

  6. 6 SRC Jan 31st, 2009 at 2:13 pm
  7. 7 R Margolis Jan 31st, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    One thing to keep in mind is that if wind really does provide more jobs than coal while providing much less energy, does that also mean that the fixed price of wind energy will continue to be high (especially if salaries will compete with fossil and nuclear)? I am all for increased opportunities, but the arithmetic does need to mesh.

  1. 1 The Jobs are “Blowin’ in the Wind” Trackback on Jan 29th, 2009 at 1:55 pm
  2. 2 The Jobs are “Blowin’ in the Wind” - The Seminal :: Independent Media and Politics Trackback on Jan 29th, 2009 at 8:24 pm
  3. 3 Does wind power really provide more jobs than coal? | csmonitor.com Trackback on Jan 31st, 2009 at 1:20 am
  4. 4 Global Warming Debate: Morano vs. ClimateProgress’s Romm | Latest Technology News - Business News And Expert Advice Trackback on Apr 3rd, 2009 at 6:58 pm
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