No one would mistake the creation of renewable energy jobs as one of President Trump’s top policy priorities. Since taking office nearly 100 days ago, he has given the green light for construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and rolled back the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, all while touting coal as the future of the country’s energy sector.
For the environmentally-conscious, this is a startling shift from the previous administration, and ignores the realities of the country’s energy industry. The 2016 Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census found that the solar industry accounted for 2%—or 1 in 50—or every new job created over the past year in the U.S., while the Energy Information Administration reports the percentage of electric generation from coal fell from 50% in 2008 to 30% by 2016.
In fact, the solar workforce increased by 25% in 2016, and wind employment increased by 32%, according to the 2017 U.S. Energy and Jobs report. The solar industry grew 17 times faster than the overall U.S. economy last year.
MONEY asked several people in the clean energy field to grade the President’s first 100 days.
Name: Len Hering Sr., RADM, USN (ret.)
Title: President and Executive Director, Center for Sustainable Energy
Voted for: Trump
“The president is moving way too quickly, without sound guidance from past policies and government regulations that were created to protect our environment and build a clean energy future. Job growth in the clean energy sector has outpaced employment in petroleum and coal industries and proven we can build a robust economy while benefitting the environment. As a nation, we must move beyond fossil fuels to fully deploy renewable energy sources that not only reduce pollution and human health hazards, but also offer greater job opportunities and true national security. Clean energy is not a red or blue thing, it’s simply the right thing to do now and for future generations. I think the president needs to remember that he represents the entire population, and we don’t all agree he is doing the right thing when it comes to energy and the environment.”
Title: Welder, Broadwind Towers
Voted for: Trump
“I fully support President Trump. I think he has done a very good job of putting America first and standing up for the American worker. My fellow co-workers and I have good paying American jobs in the wind industry and are relying on President Trump to continue to support us by keeping our jobs secure.”
RJ Harrington Jr.
Title: President/CEO of Sustainable Action Consulting
Voted for: No comment
“President Trump doesn’t seem to understand that the economy and the environment aren’t at odds, and that action on climate change and clean energy is good for business and good for jobs.
There are three million clean energy and clean transportation jobs in America – yet the administration recently began the lengthy rule-making process of tearing down the Clean Power Plan, the most important clean energy policy in our nation’s history. President Trump also announced his administration will re-open a review of common-sense automobile pollution standards that have been instrumental in rejuvenating America’s automotive manufacturing sector while driving down fuel costs for consumers. And by putting forward a budget that would gut popular R&D and energy efficiency programs at agencies like the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration, President Trump is hindering innovation, forcing homeowners and businesses to pay more on their energy bills and stifling private investment by introducing heightened levels of uncertainty in clean energy markets.
President Trump must change course quickly – or we risk ceding leadership of the global clean energy economy to China and even fossil-fuel dependent countries in the Middle East that are rapidly developing infrastructure projects for electric vehicles and solar energy. The president can start by re-affirming our commitment to the Paris climate agreement in May. If the administration continues down the economically destructive path of rolling back progress on clean energy and climate change, Congress must be prepared to step in.”
Title: President, Generate Capital
Voted for: No Comment
“In general, Trump hasn’t actually done anything that helps or hurts renewable energy from the federal level – the positive tailwinds remain. In fact, because of his pro-Coal rhetoric, he has activated millions of renewable energy supporters to show more vocal enthusiasm at the state level, which is leading to stronger state policy. It is true that the Trump Administration has recommend people into important jobs that could negatively impact renewable energy on the margins, but given the recent weakness in the employment market it seems quite unlikely that our record as the number one job creator of blue collar workers in the last few years will prevent significant roll backs.”