The election campaigns brought a deluge of hypercharged political sound bites about environmental values even though there’s strong public support for cleaner air that’s healthier to breathe, cleaner water that’s safer to drink and enjoy for recreation, and fewer dangerous toxics in our communities.
The reality: environmental progress is being achieved together with the growing green economy, and it’s helping drive the nation’s economic recovery. Energy-efficient equipment and appliances, wind development, cleaner more fuel-efficient cars and modern rail development are good for job creation, good for economic growth and good for the environment.
The election is over. Let’s discard the SuperPACs’ and defensive polluters’ old myth that we must choose between job creation and environmental progress. Let's look at how innovative clean technologies are growing Indiana’s economy.
Energy efficiency improvements are creating jobs, saving people and businesses money on their utility bills, and reducing pollution. Johnson Controls and others employ skilled workers retrofitting schools, hospitals, and commercial, industrial and governmental buildings. Saving energy saves consumers money and keeps money in Indiana’s economy. Less pollution means better public health and cleaner rivers and lakes for all. Why would anyone argue that it’s somehow smart to waste energy and money?
Wind power development creates manufacturing, construction and technical jobs, rural economic development and pollution-free energy. Indiana wind turbines produce 1,343 megawatts of electricity, and more development is coming. Wind power is creating new jobs and businesses opportunities for Vela Gear Systems (Carmel, Marion), White Construction (Clinton) and others.
Indiana has much at stake with the federal wind power production tax credit, which expires Dec. 31. President Barack Obama supports extending this tax credit, and Congress must act soon to avoid jobs losses in the wind industry. Indiana politicians should support this policy to keep advancing the state’s renewable energy jobs and businesses.
Cleaner, more efficient cars and trucks save us money at the gas pump, reduce air pollution and improve national security by cutting back America’s dependence on foreign oil. The federal clean car standards will increase fuel economy to a fleet-wide average of 35 mpg in 2016 and 54.5 mpg by 2025. That’s a smart solution, keeping money in Indiana’s economy rather than draining dollars to the Middle East and oil-producing states.
The Obama administration’s leadership in stabilizing and modernizing the American auto industry is a true success story that is especially important for Indiana, with its high percentage of auto-related manufacturing jobs.
Let’s separate sound solutions from the sound bites. We are achieving job creation, economic growth and better environmental quality together. That’s what the public wants, and it’s happening.
Howard Learner is the executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, a Midwest-based environmental and economic development advocacy organization. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.