Pennsylvania is one of the country’s fastest-growing markets for clean energy. It employed some 94,000 people in the state before the pandemic hit, with more than 11,000 of those jobs in rural areas. And for the past seven years, it had been adding jobs, often nearly five times faster than overall statewide job growth. These are good-paying jobs for people working to make our homes and businesses more energy-efficient, boost wind and solar power, modernize our energy grid and manufacture clean cars and trucks.
These industries are the key to getting the state’s economy back on its feet from this pandemic. And Joe Biden has a plan—the strongest we have seen from any president in U.S. history—that will help us get there and fight the climate crisis at the same time. His climate plan will create more sustainable clean energy jobs, cut the pollution that harms our health and fuels climate change, and build a more just future for our kids and grandkids. It will rebuild us from the crises of today and make us more resilient in the face of tomorrow’s.
So it’s not surprising that most Americans agree with Joe Biden‘s plan to “build back better,“ Joe‘s plan will create millions of good jobs in the U.S., including in Pennsylvania, by developing renewable energy, investing in climate-resilient infrastructure, electrifying transportation, and boosting energy efficiency, so we can make our communities healthier. He is fighting for the same values he was raised with in Scranton – that this country cannot succeed without a growing, thriving middle class.
Biden is a good man and a thoughtful leader. I know that he will fight for us and our families every day, as hard as he knows how. He will stand up for public health and follow science and the law, surrounding himself with advisors who embrace strong climate actions.
That’s critical now more than ever, as the costs of climate change are mounting quickly and putting lives at risk in Pennsylvania. Extreme weather cost the state over $1 billion in economic losses between 2007 and 2016. The state is predicting potentially dire prospects from declining air quality to increases in disease, flooding, supercharged storms, landslides, drought and extreme heat. And it will take a serious toll on livestock production, runoff and water treatment and the resilience of critical infrastructure.
These mounting burdens—like Covid-19—are hitting Black residents and other people of color, low-income communities, older Americans and other vulnerable populations the hardest because they are often on the frontlines of pollution with fewer resources to escape harm, illness and economic loss.
Increasing affordable and reliable clean energy is also critical for strengthening our communities. It can power our homes, save us money and resources, and help protect our health and planet all at once. Nearly 350,000 homes in Pennsylvania were powered by wind generation last year. The state already has enough solar energy to power over 50,000 homes and is just scratching the surface of its potential. Wind energy prevented carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to taking 740,000 cars off the road and saved 1.9 billion gallons of water in Pennsylvania in 2019.
This is the direction we need to keep moving—and go full speed ahead.
But the current administration is intent on holding us back—even reversing the progress we have already made. Their environmental rollbacks, inaction on climate, and handouts to fossil fuel companies have gotten us nowhere. They conned Americans into policies that upended every corner of life in this country, destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives, and crashed our economy.
This election is our chance to decide what kind of world we want to live in after the pandemic. It is time to turn the page on this bleak chapter in our history. With Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our leaders, we will. They will help Pennsylvania harness its clean energy, improve our health and build an economy that’s stronger and more resilient to tackle the challenges ahead. Aren’t we all ready for that right about now?
Kevin S. Curtis is the executive director of the NRDC Action Fund.
Photo: Wind turbines in Union Township, Schuylill Co, Pa. by Shuvaev.