Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt had a genuine howler the other day. On NBC’s Meet the Press, he said, “Since the fourth quarter of last year until most recently, we’ve added almost 50,000 jobs in the coal sector. In the month of May alone, almost 7,000 jobs.” Try instead maybe 1,000 jobs in the first four months of the Trump administration. And just to be accurate, let’s add a few more numbers to the mix. According to Department of Energy figures, the coal industry, which has been losing jobs for years, now has about 54,000 mining jobs and employs about 160,000 people in total. To put that in context, solar power alone now employs 373,000 people part- or full-time in this country and yet represents only a small part of U.S. energy output, though it’s growing fast.
A recent Sierra Club analysis of Energy Department job figures found that “nationally, clean energy jobs outnumber all fossil fuel jobs by over 2.5 to 1, and exceed all jobs in coal and gas by 5 to 1.” In addition, on surveying the country’s energy employment figures, on a state-by-state basis, the report found that “41 states and Washington, D.C. (80% of the total) have more clean energy jobs than fossil fuel jobs from all sources.” In addition, according to a report from the Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Corps program, “solar and wind jobs are growing at a rate 12 times as fast as the rest of the U.S. economy.”
And as TomDispatch regular Michael Klare points out today, this is the sector of the energy economy that Donald Trump, the self-styled “jobs president” (“I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created”), essentially wants to shut down. In other words, he’s ready to leave what could be one of the biggest job-generation machines on the planet — renewable energy already employs an estimated 8.1 million people globally — to the Chinese, the Germans, and other increasingly green-oriented countries. In this context, consider Klare’s analysis of what a Trumpian new world order, organized around his own fossil fuel fixation, might look like and what it might mean for us all.