A few weeks ago, I discussed how Texas is the largest wind energy producing state. This boom in renewable energy in Texas occurred under the guidance of Rick Perry as governor, who later became the Secretary of Energy under President Trump. Now, when Rick Perry was nominated for Secretary of Energy, there was backlash to his appointment due to his fondness of the fossil fuel industry. So how did someone with a fondness for fossil fuels usher in a renewable boom in Texas? The answer is that Governor Perry’s priority was job creation, not clean energy. Which begs the following question, why can’t we have energy and economic freedom? I believe that we can, and I also believe that the proposed Biden infrastructure plan offers that exact argument as a potential selling point. Now I am not advocating for or against the bill in its entirety, simply looking at the green jobs that could be created by this bill and the economic impact it could have.
Previously I discussed how the bill includes $174 billion ear marked for specifically to “win the EV market.” Investments from this portion of the bill will include spurring the domestic production of EV at every stage of the production process. This includes the production of raw materials, to parts, to electric batteries, to retrofitting/retooling factories to be able to domestically manufacture completed EVs. What’s more, it is my belief that investment from the public sector will spur more investment from the private sector. Similar to the Silicon Valley effect, where creating sectors of specialized labor attracts talent and investment. Outside of the Biden infrastructure plan, the US is already revving up its production of EVs with a recent reconciliation of SK Innovations and LG Energy which will allow for the continuation of construction on a $2.6 billion battery factory outside of Atlanta. This plant will employ up to 1,000 employees and the batteries produced here will only need to travel one state over to Tennessee to the Volkswagens plant in Chattanooga.
The Biden bill also proposes $100 billion in investment for plugging old oil and gas wells, cleaning up abandoned mines and building 10 facilities to demonstrate carbon capture capabilities for retrofitting steel mills, cement facilities, and chemical production plants. Carbon capture in factory setting relies heavily on gas emissions being funneled through a liquid solvent which absorbs all the emissions. The solvent is then moved into a regenerator which with heat removes the carbon, and finally enables the carbon to be routed to storage underground. The issue with carbon is that we have roughly two centuries worth of carbon already released into the atmosphere, and so to hedge the harmful effects of our carbon emissions its not enough to simply start collecting new carbon we produce, but we also need to start capturing carbon already out there. According to Howard Herzog, a senior research engineer at the MIT Energy Initiative, the biggest issue with capturing carbon from the air is an economic one. Carbon’s concentration in the air is only 0.04% and the lower this number gets, the harder it is going to be to capture atmospheric carbon. However, its also important to consider that we went from 280 parts per million carbon in the air at the start of the industrial revolution, to 415 parts per million now.
Hopefully, the $100 billion earmarked for reducing carbon emissions will be a good starting off point to give carbon capture the economic jump start that it needs. According to Robert Pollin, an economics professor and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, this bill will create 1 million to 1.2 million jobs per year, specifically in the renewable and energy efficiency space. In addition, a majority of these “good paying” jobs are going to be in manufacturing and transportation and not require college degrees, thus lifting up much of the American working class that has been left behind over the last thirty years.
Is there anything in the Biden proposal that you’re excited about? Or are there any points that you find troublesome and are hesitant to get on board with…other than the price tag? Leave a comment below.