Good Green Jobs in a Global Economy

Good Green Jobs in a Global Economy: Making and Keeping New Industries in the United States

David J. Hess
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Good Green Jobs in a Global Economy
    Book Description:

    Good Green Jobs in a Global Economy is the first book to explore the broad implications of the convergence of industrial and environnmental policy in the United States. Under the banner of "green jobs," clean energy industries and labor, environmental, and antipoverty organizations have forged "blue-green" alliances and achieved some policy victories, most notably at the state and local levels. In this book, David Hess explores the politics of green energy and green jobs, linking the prospect of a green transition to tectonic shifts in the global economy. He argues that the relative decline in U.S. economic power sets the stage for an ideological shift, away from neoliberalism and toward "developmentalism," an ideology characterized by a more defensive posture with respect to trade and a more active industrial policy. After describing federal green energy initiatives in the first two years of the Obama administration, Hess turns his attention to the state and local levels, examining demand-side and supply-side support for green industry and local small business. He analyzes the successes and failures of green coalitions and the partisan patterns of support for green energy reform. This new piecemeal green industrial policy, Hess argues, signals a fundamental challenge to anti-interventionist beliefs about the relationship between the government and the economy.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-30590-7
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-28)

    At the 2009 Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference in Washington, the international president of the United Steelworkers, Leo Gerard, described an experience he had had while riding on a high-speed train in China. When a waiter put a glass of water on his tray, Gerard quickly grabbed the glass to keep it from spilling. That reaction was based on Gerard’s experiences on slow, jerky Amtrak trains in the United States. The waiter explained that it was not necessary to hold on to the glass, and in fact, as the train sped along at more than 200 miles per hour, no...

  5. I Background
    • 1 Energy, Manufacturing, and the Changing Global Economy
      (pp. 31-46)

      At the end of World War II, the United States possessed more than two-thirds of the world’s gold and most of its functioning manufacturing capacity; however, the US had a significant vulnerability. Its demand for oil was outpacing domestic production, and foreign oil was much less expensive than domestic oil. Access to foreign oil had become central in the country’s strategy to maintain its position of global hegemony. The sale of oil and other commodities in dollars, the backing of the dollar with the country’s huge gold reserves, and the use of military power to control oil supplies ensured that...

    • 2 Green Jobs and the Green Energy Transition
      (pp. 47-70)

      In the 1970s, when green energy policies first emerged in the United States, the supporting political constituencies were mainly environmentalists and green businesses. The utilities took seriously the utopian claims of environmental and progressive activists, who envisioned a time when the power lines would come down because all energy would be generated by on-site solar panels. Opposition from utilities softened slowly as a result of structural changes in the industry (changes that separated generation from distribution) and in the technology. Technological changes facilitated grid-based forms of renewable energy (for example, large-scale solar and wind farms) and distributed generation. After state...

  6. II Policies and Politics
    • 3 Green Industrial Policy and the 111th Congress
      (pp. 73-102)

      The 111th Congress met in 2009 and 2010, during a historic moment of severe financial crisis and recession. Strong Democratic majorities in both houses and Barack Obama’s campaign promise of “change you can believe in” increased expectations that significant legislative reform would occur. Among the promises was the link between green energy policy and job creation that had mobilized green transition coalitions. Many independent voters who were concerned with job security found the framing of green energy transition policies appealing, and they joined with union members, environmentalists, green businesses, “new economy” progressives, and anti-poverty groups to support a presidential candidate...

    • 4 State Governments and the Greening of Import Substitution
      (pp. 103-124)

      Although the federal government has only a limited industrial policy in support of the green energy transition, state governments have forged more comprehensive policies. Between 1996 and 2000, fifteen states included a public benefits fund in electricity restructuring legislation, and by 2000 eight states had also developed a standard or a goal for renewable electricity. Although the motivation behind some of the policies was environmental, for states that imported their energy from other states or from abroad, the policies also had economic dividends, because they created jobs from locally produced energy. As the economic implications became clearer, state and local...

    • 5 The Greening of Regional Industrial Clusters
      (pp. 125-146)

      Whereas the previous chapter focused on the developmentalist implications of the demand side of state and local policies, this chapter will discuss the corresponding supply side. Although regional economies reap benefits from locally produced renewable energy, they can also benefit from the other side of green industrial development: new manufacturing and biofuels refining industries that generate revenue by exporting to other states and foreign countries. The traditional policies of the economic development tool kit, such as financial incentives and tax rebates, can help to attract and retain businesses, but increasingly state governments have turned to the innovation cluster as the...

    • 6 Localist Alternatives to the Mainstream Transition
      (pp. 147-168)

      Although the innovation cluster is an important example of a developmentalist approach to the green transition, there is a second approach associated with a different type of green businesses than those in the technology sector and those in the clean tech clusters. Small independently owned businesses in sustainable agriculture, building services, community finance, and green retail often operate with different business models from those of the high-tech businesses of the regional innovation clusters.

      The contrast between the two types of business is based on different financing mechanisms and associated business goals. The typical business in a green innovation cluster is...

  7. III Processes and Explanations
    • 7 Green Transition Coalitions and Geographical Unevenness
      (pp. 171-190)

      In the United States, some green energy policies are in the social liberal tradition of redistributive assistance to low-income populations, and others are more in the neoliberal tradition of creating new markets, but on the whole the policies cut across social liberal and neoliberal ideologies by focusing on domestic and regional industrial development in order to generate jobs. For a while, the framing of environmental policy as “green jobs” also appeared to cut across partisan divisions and make possible a broad base of support from the private sector and civil society. However, the backlash in 2010 indicated that the “environment...

    • 8 After 2010: Continued Unevenness in the Green Transition
      (pp. 191-212)

      By 2011 there was an intense battle of frames for defining the relationship between the global economic crisis that had begun in 2008 and the green energy transition. Whereas Democrats continued to view green jobs as a partial solution to problems of unemployment and energy costs, many Republicans had come to view green industrial policy as another example of government overspending. Renewable electricity standards, system benefits charges, and cap-and-trade programs were especially vulnerable, because opponents could depict them as taxes that businesses and households could ill afford. Green transition policies were merged with “Obamacare” to become part of a socialistic...

    • Conclusion
      (pp. 213-230)

      To reduce the level of greenhouse gases and other environmental burdens, it would be necessary to make substantial shifts in the generation and production of electricity, the ways in which buildings conserve and use energy, and the structure and energy sources of transportation. The transition would take place over many decades at different scales, and it would require the integration of technological innovation, different consumer practices, and new government regulations. In this book I have expanded on the theory of large-scale technological transitions by drawing attention to the importance of contested policy fields that result in uneven, incremental, and often...

  8. Appendix: State Government Votes for Green Energy Laws
    (pp. 231-238)
    David Hess and Jonathan Coley
  9. Notes
    (pp. 239-254)
  10. References
    (pp. 255-288)
  11. Index
    (pp. 289-294)
  12. Series List
    (pp. 295-298)