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Report Shows Pacific Coast Moves Beyond “Drill Baby Drill,” Leads Nation in Solar Energy Production

Investment in Solar Energy Creates Tens of Thousands of New Jobs and Spurs Significant Economic Growth in the Region; California Leads the Way, Accounting for a Quarter of Country’s Solar Workforce


To read the full report, click here.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — As voters contemplate who will occupy the White House and Congress in the years ahead, the Center for the Next Generation and the Center for American Progress released “Regional Energy, National Solutions, a new report that argues that the United States needs a long-term strategy to achieve lasting energy and economic security using the unique assets of each region of the country to choose smart places for investment in multiple forms of energy and fuel.

“We know the earth is warming and resources are finite, and as a country, we simply cannot take a ‘drill baby drill’ approach that makes us dependent on one finite resource for electricity and transportation needs,” said Kate Gordon, director of advanced energy and sustainability program at The Center for the Next Generation and a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. “Whereas the plan set forth by the American Petroleum Institute relies on centralized energy sources controlled by a handful of companies, such as oil wells and power plants, distributed solar is owned by individuals and brings economic gain to all. The west has seen an explosion in solar, spurring economic growth across a wide set of occupations and industries, from tech, finance, and manufacturing to production and commercialization and installation.”

In the Pacific West, the American Petroleum Institute wants to increase oil and gas drilling, which the report finds would threaten the region’s robust coastal economy. An energy plan based on resource extraction alone squanders the opportunity to diversify and strengthen the economy, jeopardizing America’s ability to lead in the global marketplace. One oil spill is capable of washing away the 570,000 jobs and $34 billion of annual revenue supported by the fishing, shipping, tourism, and recreation industries in California, Oregon, and Washington. Conversely, the solar energy installation and generation which has spurred economic activity in the region has created tens of thousands of jobs at a time when other sectors have been hurt badly by the recent economic downturn.

In the Pacific West, the report finds:

  • Since 1995 the number of solar businesses in California has grown 171 percent and total employment has jumped by 166 percent
  • In 2011 employment in the solar industry increased by 6.8 percent while overall state employment grew at just 0.7 percent. With 25,000 people currently employed in the solar industry, California accounts for one quarter of the country’s solar workforce
  • California plans to install 1 million rooftop solar systems by 2020, growing the state economy by close to $30 billion and adding 20,000 jobs each year
  • Last year over 90 percent of global solar venture capital funding came from the United States, with half of these investments coming from California. The state registered a total of 105 patents in 2010 for solar technologies and holds 45 percent of all U.S. solar patents and 24 percent of the entire world’s solar patents

The promise of the clean economy is not a mirage or a far-off goal; it’s being felt right now across the country, employing about 3.1 million Americans. In the second quarter of 2012 alone, more than 37,000 new clean energy jobs were announced in projects across 30 states. Recognizing the critical need to enhance our energy security, the U.S. military has become a major proponent of clean technologies such as biofuels, efficiency, and solar and the world’s largest investors agree that long-term climate change and clean energy policy is a tremendous investment opportunity. It is about time that our nation’s politicians support homegrown energy sources that jumpstart our economy while protecting public health by decreasing the emission of harmful pollutants.

Read the full report »

To speak with Kate Gordon at the Center for the Next Generation, please contact Lisa Cohen at 310.395.2544 or



About the Center for the Next Generation

The Center for the Next Generation works to shape national dialogue around two major challenges that affect the prospects of America’s Next Generation—advancing a sustainable energy future and improving opportunities for children and families. As a nonpartisan organization, the Center generates original strategies that advance these goals through research, policy development and strategic communications. In our home state of California, the Center works to create ground-tested solutions that demonstrate success to the rest of the nation.


About the Center for American Progress

The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is "of the people, by the people, and for the people."

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