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Biden’s Climate Plans Could Bolster Virginia Clean-Energy Jobs

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Monday, April 26, 2021   

RICHMOND, Va. -- With President Joe Biden's virtual climate summit over, Virginia environmentalists say the president's clean-energy actions and American Jobs Plan would boost employment and economic development for climate work already under way in the state.

Last year, Virginia lawmakers passed the Clean Economy Act, which aims for zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Last week at the summit, Biden announced the U.S. would cut greenhouse-gas emissions in half by 2030.

Harry Godfrey, executive director for Virginia Advanced Energy Economy, thinks the two pledges would supercharge job growth in clean-energy sectors such as transportation.

"Provisions like the $174 billion toward transportation, electrification in the American Jobs Plan can really help to enhance our efforts to deploy the infrastructure to decarbonize and move from diesel school buses over to electric school buses and to steadily electrifying the passenger fleet," Godfrey outlined.

He added it's also important for the state and federal governments to create an equitable transition to clean energy so folks in underserved communities that often bear the brunt of pollution, can be put to work in new areas.

Katharine Kollins, president of the Southeastern Wind Coalition, believes Virginia is ahead of most states in terms of offshore wind job growth.

She pointed out a 2,400 megawatt wind farm in the works off the state's east coast would provide more than 10,000 jobs during six years of construction. It would also bring more than 700 full-time jobs for the life of the project.

"We're talking billions of dollars in economic development benefits to the state," Kollins asserted. "And really the more of a pipeline that we create in terms of offshore wind, the larger that economic development benefit grows because we start to attract wind-energy manufacturers to Virginia."

Investment in clean-energy jobs is popular in the United States. A poll shows 59% of voters said they support multi-trillion-dollar stimulus legislation that funds clean-energy infrastructure as part of the president's economic recovery effort.


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