Job growth is a prime topic in the U.S. presidential race, but Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have very different takes on the role clean energy could play in creating employment.
Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton says the U.S. can be the world’s “clean energy superpower.” Her plan, spelled out in detail online, would create millions of jobs and spur billions of dollars in public and private investment, while making infrastructure more resilient and lowering emissions.
Republican candidate Donald Trump says he’s a “great believer in all forms of energy” but that the country’s energy policies are a “disaster.” In a 2015 interview with CNN, Trump said policies to support clean energy and reduce carbon emissions would “imperil jobs” and “the middle class and lower classes.”
Like many critics of the federal government’s efforts to promote clean energy, he points to the failure of Solyndra as a waste of taxpayer money. Solyndra, you may recall, was a solar company that received a partial loan guarantee from the U.S. government but went bankrupt in 2011, defaulting on a US$535 million loan.
What does economic research say about the potential of government-led industrial policy to promote clean energy and create jobs?
Looking at the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, or what came to be known as the “stimulus package,” provides us some insights. What clearly emerges is that the expansion of renewable energy is an opportunity to create jobs in manufacturing and construction, as well as in other industries.