Energy Central News

Curated power industry news from thousands of top sources.

News

SC will need clean-energy boost after coronavirus

Source: 
Anderson Independent-Mail

Recovery will be long and my seat in the Statehouse will be filled in just a few months, but I will continue to be an advocate for clean energy and conservation because this is one of the most environmentally and economically smart ways to build our state in a post-COVID-19 landscape.

After more than three decades in public service, I firmly believe I have used the power entrusted in me to move South Carolina toward a future my grandchildren can be proud to raise their own families in one day.

As a state representative serving in Columbia for the past six years, this has continually meant matching values with pursuits to protect South Carolina's habitats and resources, while still supporting economic opportunity. With climate-induced tragedies lapping at our coastline and an economy unspun by a public health disaster, I have no intention to stall. Fortunately, a majority of our nation now believes in combating climate change. This creates a trove of opportunities for leaders to work together to rebuild stronger and more resiliently.

Over the past decade under Republican leadership, the South Carolina General Assembly has created parameters under which clean energy development has grown exponentially. Last year, the clean energy industry – which includes renewables, grid and storage, energy-efficiency, clean vehicles and clean fuels – employed more than 46,500 South Carolinians.

National data, however, indicate the Palmetto State's industry has room to mature. In just five years, national clean energy employment grew more than 10% to 3.3 million workers in 2019, making it not only one of the U.S. economy's biggest employers, but also its fastest-growing.

It, however, was not spared from the widespread, pandemic-induced unemployment. At the end of July more than half-a-million clean energy workers remained out of jobs, including 8,000-plus in South Carolina – 17% of our once-booming industry. To get it back on track, we'll need the continued commitment of our Republican leadership at the state and congressional levels.

As Sen. Lindsey Graham has already signaled in his appeal to Senate leadership, clean energy must receive appropriate consideration in pandemic relief and recovery packages. More so, we'll need a clear plan that invests in a 21st-century clean energy infrastructure, builds upon innovation, favors job creators, and continues leadership on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Fortunately, bipartisan legislation toward these goals has already been introduced to widespread support from environmental groups, the agricultural industry, the National Taxpayers Union, and Fortune 500 companies alike. For years, Clemson University has taught the region's producers how to profit from carbon sequestration and storage, but the Growing Climate Solutions Act would broaden market access further by developing a USDA-backed, one-stop resource that provides a clear process, as well as a certification and advisory board to lend needed stability and credibility.

Broadening farmers, ranchers and landowners' ability to participate in the voluntary, private carbon market comes at a pivotal time. Increased confidence will allow producers to meet the demands of corporations seeking to offset greenhouse gas emissions, while producers can build financial security through an extra revenue stream. In turn, they'll be incentivized to lay the groundwork for fighting climate change coast-to-coast.

Recovery will be long and my seat in the Statehouse will be filled in just a few months, but I will continue to be an advocate for clean energy and conservation because this is one of the most environmentally and economically smart ways to build our state in a post-COVID-19 landscape.

I'm proud of South Carolina Republicans for pushing the conversation on the environment and conservation, and thankful for colleagues with a shared vision in the Statehouse.

In order to avoid future disasters, however, we need to continue to be leaders in the Southeast and push the potential for clean energy in South Carolina to enrich our communities while protecting the landscapes and wildlife we love most.

Rep. Gary E. Clary represents House District 3 in South Carolina House of Representatives. He has been recognized for his environmental work by Upstate Forever, the Conservation Voters of South Carolina, and the South Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Your Turn

Gary Clary

Guest columnist

Recovery will be long and my seat in the Statehouse will be filled in just a few months, but I will continue to be an advocate for clean energy and conservation because this is one of the most environmentally and economically smart ways to build our state in a post-COVID-19 landscape.

Discussions

No discussions yet. Start a discussion below.

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »