The $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill and Green Jobs Revolution are Right Around the Corner
The new $1.2 trillion infrastructure package coming from Congress should supercharge a green jobs revolution.
The current compromise between a group of moderate Republican and Democratic Senators seems to be paving the way for the passage of the largest infrastructure spending bill in recent history.
That bill, when it arrives, will pour money into various sectors, such as technology, electric vehicles, and EV charging; financing for better heating and cooling of public buildings and homes; upgrades to more efficient and high-tech equipment to provide clean water, more reliable and efficient power, and increased internet access to millions of Americans.
"Biden announced the creation of a new financing authority that's going to tap investment firms and their companies to 'provide folks with good-paying jobs that can't be outsourced.'"
"We have a deal," said President Biden, addressing a pool of reporters at The White House. "And I think it's really important."
We think so too. And there's every reason to believe that new technology companies will be a big part of this important step to rebuild American infrastructure. In his statement to the press, Biden announced the creation of a new financing authority that's going to tap investment firms and their companies to "provide folks with good-paying jobs that can't be outsourced."
"It also means more jobs for people with a variety of skills and backgrounds. The breadth of opportunities for working Americans is vast, as previous reporting has shown and not only for tech companies, but for all Americans."
That's where venture capital firms like FootPrint Coalition Ventures, founded by Robert Downey Jr., and other similar firms can come in and support these next-generation companies that will bring new jobs to areas with the potential to be hit hardest in the transition away from energy sources like coal, oil, and natural gas. An example is Sealed, FootPrint's most recent publicly announced investment, that provides the upfront costs and management of home retrofits to improve energy efficiency. The work they're doing could save Americans billions of dollars in heating and cooling costs by reducing energy consumption. And these aren't just high-tech jobs for the superheroes and Tony Starks of the world.
Robert Downey Jr. interviews John Kerry (12/29/20)
New infrastructure spending to upgrade equipment could also boost sales for Turntide, the innovative new motor technology developer backed by FootPrint as well as by Nest inventor Tony Fadell's Future Shape and Breakthrough Energy Ventures. It also means more jobs for people with a variety of skills and backgrounds. The breadth of opportunities for working Americans is vast, as previous reporting has shown and not only for tech companies, but for all Americans.
"For a state like Pennsylvania ... Green industries generated $42.9 billion in sales in the state and employed over 376,000 people, representing 5.3% of the state's gross income and 6.1% of employment..."
Research from the non-profit group WorkingNation shows that these green jobs already exist in some states, and that they're open to nearly everybody. The non-profit's chief content and programming officer, Joan Lynch, wrote in an email:
The design of this research, which has never been done at this scale before, is to show a more broad definition of what green jobs are now considered. And point to jobs in each state -- their growth, the positive for the overall economies, and the fact that these jobs are not predictions … They are "here and now." It's very inspiring for people of all skill sets that want to do work that has a benefit of cleaning up our environment.
"...There are more 'regular' green jobs than specialized green jobs, meaning that lots of 'regular people' are employed because of a connection with the business of improving the environment..."
The group takes "green jobs" to mean any jobs that were created as a result of spending on sustainable initiatives. For a state like Pennsylvania, which typically gets linked more to fracking for natural gas and oil than it does to sustainability, the number of green jobs was surprisingly large, according to Lynch. Green industries generated $42.9 billion in sales in the state and employed over 376,000 people, representing 5.3% of the state's gross income and 6.1% of employment, according to WorkingNation data. And with more investments from the Biden Administration to finance energy efficiency upgrades more jobs will be created.
Lynch also wrote:
There are more "regular" green jobs than specialized green jobs, meaning that lots of "regular people" are employed because of a connection with the business of improving the environment, which is making money for businesses as well as providing overall benefits for the environment … Of course there are some specialties that need special training to "bolt on" to basic skills, but data show that, on balance, a lot of "regular" employment can be generated without major up-skilling requiring costly training and higher education...
"These projects could add 442,000 jobs and boost direct spending by nearly $39 billion."
In 2019, the "green" industry generated more jobs for welders, office clerks, executive secretaries, accountants, machinists, and janitors, than for higher-skilled jobs like wind turbine technicians, hazardous material removal specialists, environmental scientists, environmental engineers, and biochemists.
Other parts of the proposed infrastructure package could have significant jobs benefits, too. There are roughly $83 billion worth of electricity transmission and distribution projects planned across the US already that have been approved or recommended to regulators, according to a May report from the industry advocacy group, WIRES. These projects could add 442,000 jobs and boost direct spending by nearly $39 billion during their construction phases alone. In the long-term, these projects could create an additional $1.6 billion to the annual GDP and roughly 9,000 permanent new jobs. They could also cut electricity prices, boost renewable generation, and keep us in line with our emissions goals so we don't overheat the planet. These numbers just scratch the surface of the kinds of opportunities presented by these new industries.
International Renewable Energy Agency: Renewable Energy Jobs are Growing, September 29, 2020.
So what's the point?
There's been a lot of talk about how climate policies will come at the cost of American jobs. But VC firms are financing the kinds of companies that support the initiatives the government aims to develop, and will create new, rewarding jobs that won't cost the planet so much.
That's the goal. That's what we're working to do -- build a better world before we break the one we've got.
Note from the Author: For more on the climate tech boom, check out Andrew Beebe's piece here. He's an investor with Obvious Ventures, another in a long list of firms focused (at least in part) on solving the climate emergency.