Green economy: power to the people

A local, worker-owned, green economy is the do-or-die alternative to globalized capitalism.  The claim that the choice is between jobs and the environment is bipartisan, “larger-than-usual deception.”

Bipartisan red-hearing fishing expedition: Tom Rice, Lindsey Graham and Sheldon Whitehouse on a tour of a “clean-coal” power plant in Canada (CBC)”

The Solutions Project estimates that a Rhode Island water-wind-sun energy transition will create 13,000 forty-year jobs, 7,500 in construction and the rest in operation.  Compare this to the 300 three-year jobs of the Invenergy-Raimondo power plant in Burrillville.  Advantage Green: 600 to 1.

A just transition is for the taking.  As UMass-Amherst economists found:[1]

Our rough high-end estimate for such a program is a relatively modest $600 million per year. This level of funding would pay for:

  1. income, retraining and relocation support for workers facing retrenchments;
  2. guaranteeing the pensions for workers in the affected industries; and
  3. mounting effective transition programs for what are now fossil-fuel dependent communities.


There is one problem with a just transition: it clashes with ruling class entitlements.  They are what Comcast tried to safeguard when it unsuccessfully sued the Chattanooga, Tennessee, Electric Power Board in 2008 in an attempt to block funding of city-run gigabit-speed fiber services for its citizens.

Entitlements for the rich also explain why Exxon Mobil in a recent letter to the White House  defended the Paris Agreement—read the Clean Power Plan—against the Trump administration.  No surprise that the number one gas driller in the U.S. writes a letter with “Natural Gas” as the number one term in bold.

Welcome to climate affirmation, the new denialism!  It may be modest, but it signals progress.

[1] Robert Pollin & Brian Callaci, The Economics of Just Transition: A Framework for Supporting Fossil Fuel-Dependent Workers and Communities in the United States

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Peter Nightingale is a theoretical physicist and teaches at the University of Rhode Island. He strives to leave behind a more just and peaceful, sustainable post-capitalist world for future generations, and his children and grandchildren in particular.

3 responses to “Green economy: power to the people”

  1. 7nt

    You see the deception as “bipartisan”.

    The Republican platform says:

    “The Democratic Party’s energy policy can be
    summed up in a slogan currently popular among
    its activists: “keep it in the ground.” Keeping energy
    in the earth will keep jobs out of reach of those
    who need them most. For low-income Americans,
    expensive energy means colder homes in the winter
    and hotter homes in the summer, less mobility in
    employment, and higher food prices. The current
    Administration, and particularly its EPA, seems
    not to care. Its Clean Power
    Plan — the centerpiece of the
    President’s war on coal — has
    been stayed by the Supreme
    Court. We will do away with
    it altogether. The Democratic
    Party does not understand
    that coal is an abundant, clean,
    affordable, reliable domestic
    energy resource. Those who
    mine it and their families
    should be protected from the
    Democratic Party’s radical anticoal

    The Democratic platform says:

    “Climate change is an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time. Fifteen of the 16 hottest years on record have occurred this century. While Donald Trump has called climate change a “hoax,” 2016 is on track to break global temperature records once more. Cities from Miami to Baltimore are already threatened by rising seas. California and the West have suffered years of brutal drought. Alaska has been scorched by wildfire. New York has been battered by superstorms, and Texas swamped by flash floods. The best science tells us that without ambitious, immediate action across our economy to cut carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases, all of these impacts will be far worse in the future. We cannot leave our children a planet that has been profoundly damaged.

    Democrats share a deep commitment to tackling the climate challenge; creating millions of good-paying middle class jobs; reducing greenhouse gas emissions more than 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050; and meeting the pledge President Obama put forward in the landmark Paris Agreement, which aims to keep global temperature increases to “well below” two degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We believe America must be running entirely on clean energy by mid-century. We will take bold steps to slash carbon pollution and protect clean air at home, lead the fight against climate change around the world, ensure no Americans are left out or left behind as we accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy, and be responsible stewards of our natural resources and our public lands and waters. Democrats reject the notion that we have to choose between protecting our planet and creating good-paying jobs. We can and we will do both.”

    So, while Democrats clearly have not succeeded in reining in the oil industry (and their only chance to do so meaningfully would have been in 2009-10 when they were instead preoccupied with stimulus and health insurance), to imply that the two parties talk about the environment’s impact on jobs in the same way is not accurate.

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  2. Permanent war: the ultimate ruling class entitlement program

    […] all know what such systems of corporate or state-owned ownership look like.  As mentioned, we need bottom-up, worker-owned cooperatives. Let us therefore celebrate the two bills introduced […]

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