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Pennsylvania is making strides in turning around economic woes ahead of other states. What is helping? Looking to green, according to Jan Jarrett, President and CEO of PennFuture.
While many states are suffering, Pennsylvania added 10,600 jobs in October and carries an unemployment rate 1.4 percent lower than the national rate, Jarrett says. A recent report by the Pew Center for the States lists Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wisconsin as struggling the most economically.
PennFuture attributes much of Pennsylvania’s resilience to the state legislature planning for the future by focusing on clean energy and enacting clean energy laws. These efforts bring investment and lead to green jobs and increasing use of alternative energy in Pennsylvania homes and businesses.
What might come from clean energy laws? Pennsylvania has developed its wind power sector to become the second in the country in wind power growth in the second part of 2009. Solar farms in Philadelphia belonging to Aqua and in Easton, Pa., at a Crayola Crayons facility are among the 1,000 solar projects in place or in development in the state, according to Jarrett. A maker of solar panels, Heliosphera US, just announced the opening of a manufacturing facility in the Navy Yard, which will provide 400 jobs.
Pennsylvania’s foresight into clean energy put it into position to get projects of the ground quickly with federal stimulus money. The state has invested money into community water and sewer projects and repairing roads and bridges.
However, economic woes continue to be felt by businesses and residents and several states have been able to surpass Pennsylvania in growing renewable energy. Additional legislation, the Green Jobs/Clean Energy bills (HB 80 and its companion in the Senate, SB 92) are on the table intended to propel the state forward by increasing solar and wind energy and reducing pollution from coal-fired power plants, Jarrett says.
If enacted into law, more of the state’s energy sources would be cleaner and safer, pollution would be reduced by millions of tons of carbon dioxide and 438,000 homes could be powered by the sun. These bills would put an amount on how much energy from coal-fired power plants must be clean and could allow Pennsylvania to become a pioneer in carbon capture and storage.
HB 80 has passed the House Environmental and Energy Committee and is ready for a floor vote, and SB 92 is now before the Senate Environmental and Energy Committee. Jarrett says both Green Jobs/Clean Energy bills could be passed before the end of the year. Contact your representative or senator to support new jobs and clean energy!
This information was presented in PennFuture Facts, a biweekly publication providing environmental and economic news about Pennsylvania. PennFuture provides additional e-publications such as E-Cubed, Action Alerts, Green Power Update, and Session Daze.