LETTER: Science key to revitalizing New Jersey jobs

Americans who recently thronged the Washington D.C. and Trenton Marches for Science weren’t just calling attention to the need to protect our health and safety and preserve the planet. Their presence also was a statement about the economic value of science and technology.

There is a strong connection between jobs and science and it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. For that, we pay a price.

Those who deny climate change and denigrate science threaten the nation’s economic wellbeing because history shows good jobs come from innovation and invention, not from ignoring realities our world faces.

Clean energy technology offers tremendous potential to promote prosperity in New Jersey. Today, 32,000 New Jerseyans work in what is broadly defined as energy efficiency, according to a recent analysis by Environmental Entrepreneurs, a national group of business leaders, investors, and advocates for policies that help the economy and the environment.

Most of these energy efficiency jobs are in the construction trades — easing fears that moving to clean, affordable energy sources is a job killer in that area. We’re talking about jobs manufacturing EnergyStar appliances, making and distributing LED lighting, and building and installing more cost-effective heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.

And, nearly 10,000 New Jerseyans work in solar and wind electricity generation — more than the number that gets their paychecks through fossil fuel generation. These are not just jobs for “eggheads.” For every Ph.D. in a laboratory designing new opportunities for renewable energy, there will be many more people installing the results of that work in our neighborhoods and business centers.

Clean-vehicle technology offers even more opportunities. Nationwide, 259,000 people work on the design and manufacture of hybrid and plug-in cars to driverless vehicles. With a little effort to date, 4,000 New Jerseyans work with alternative fuel vehicles and fuel efficiency. As a major transportation hub and a repository for unwanted diesel and other automobile emissions, New Jersey is an ideal place to be the hub of innovation for transportation. Our state would benefit from cleaner air, improved health, and an explosion of new clean-vehicle jobs.

Other common sense initiatives would make New Jersey’s clean energy job future even brighter.

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