Feb. 2 (UPI) -- It may be up to the governments of U.S. states to take the lead in the effort to advance a low-carbon economy, the Natural Resources Defense Council said.
A review of federal data from the NRDC finds the U.S. renewable energy sector was one of the largest job creators in recent years. The estimated 350,000 people tied to the solar energy sector is greater than some parts of the conventional fossil fuels industry and wind energy was moving in a similar employment direction.
Lara Ettenson, a California policy director for the NRDC, said President Donald Trump should look to the low-carbon sector if he aims to fulfill a campaign promise of creating more jobs for middle class Americans.
"Unfortunately, President Trump has ignored the entire burgeoning clean energy movement in his new so-called America First energy plan," she said in a statement.
Trump's team has moved in favor of oil, gas and coal, but pledged to be a responsible steward for the environment. A policy statement on energy characterized clean air, clean water and general preservation as a "high priority."
The Trump administration has, however, been criticized for being staffed by officials questioning peer-reviewed reports highlighting the threats and causes of climate change. State leaders since his inauguration have taken the lead on climate change.
In his State of the State address, California Gov. Jerry Brown said the White House can't change the science on climate issues. The governor said the science and dangers of climate change are real and it's now up to the states to lead.
Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo vowed to put his state in the national lead for wind energy after a state power authority voted in favor of the 90-megawatt South Fork Wind Farm, which at peak capacity will be the largest in the nation.
"Without federal leadership, states must push for strong efficiency and renewable energy policies within their borders to experience these benefits and support their growing clean energy workforces," Ettenson said.