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Green Jobs/Red States

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Industrial policy should work this way–you put jobs everywhere, even if it doesn’t pay you back politically. Of course, you want it to pay you back politically. When the Roosevelt administration decided to engage in massive investments in building up defense production in the South and West during World War II, it was partly to spread it out in case of attack but also it was to remind working class people everywhere that FDR wanted you to work a good job around where you live. Alas, Biden investing heavily in green jobs for red states isn’t going to a damn thing for him politically. It’s still the right thing to do.

The single largest investment in the burgeoning US green energy supply chain involves a construction site the size of 121 football fields near Greensboro, North Carolina, and a check for $13.9 billion. By 2030, the Toyota Corp. facility could be employing more than 5,000 people cranking out enough batteries to power half-a-million new electric vehicles each year.

What’s not to like about that? This seemingly rhetorical question actually demands an answer given America’s partisan divide over climate change.

The Toyota project, which began with a $1.3 billion initial investment announced in 2021, massively expanded after passage the following year of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), President Joe Biden’s signature green legislation offering hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies for clean technology. The IRA was unanimously opposed by Republicans in Congress. Its cousin, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, containing a smaller set of cleantech subsidies, was nominally bipartisan but only drew 13 “yeas” from House Republicans when it passed in 2021.

One Republican critic of the IRA said, using fairly typical language, that it would “raise taxes” and “throw money at woke climate and social programs that won’t work.” That critic, Rep. Richard Hudson, represents North Carolina’s 9th district, which happens to be where Toyota is building that mammoth battery plant.

Hudson’s district epitomizes a peculiarity of the US energy transition — and a growing problem for Republicans. There is a certain luxury enjoyed by politicians who can be rhetorically against something while still quietly welcoming any dollars and jobs that it brings to their constituents. Looking ahead to November, if Republicans are empowered to a point where they actually could vote those dollars away, it would present a much thornier dilemma — and a moment of truth.

What’s more, factors such as abundant land and cheaper labor have drawn billions of dollars in cleantech investment not only to red districts but also to the swing states that will likely determine who prevails in the race for the White House.

Bloomberg Opinion teamed up with Jeff Davies, founder of EnerWrap, which specializes in data-driven insights on the US energy system, to follow the money and construct a granular map of where US cleantech factories announced on Biden’s watch are planned or being built. This encompasses hundreds of projects in more than 450 cities spread across 44 states plus Puerto Rico, backed by more than $200 billion of planned investment. They’re expected to generate 195,000 jobs, plus economic multiplier effects for local businesses, tax bases and infrastructure.

Whichever way you slice the numbers — spending, jobs, projects announced under Biden before or after the passage of the IRA — red districts garner an overwhelming proportion of the benefits.

Of course those facilities are all trying to turn your sons into daughters and daughters into sons through Islamofascismmarxismcriticalracetheory. So got to vote for Trump. He’ll close those facilities and really show the libs!

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