Kim Jordan: It’s time to pass clean energy legislation
CEO, New Belgium Brewing
Spring symbolizes rebirth, new life and growth. This year, it could also signal our economy’s rebirth. We can kick start the economy if Congress acts decisively and passes comprehensive clean energy legislation to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, address global warming and set us on a course of energy independence.
Our current energy policy continues to reward polluters, undermines the health of the American people, threatens our national and economic security, and keeps us dependent upon energy sources from overseas. By urging our senators to significantly boost investment in efficiency and renewable technologies, we can grow our economy and stay competitive in the global market.
At New Belgium Brewing, we have learned firsthand how profitable investing in efficiency, renewables and good jobs can be. We’ve made a conscious decision to operate and evaluate our performance by considering the economic, environmental and social impacts of how we do business. We discovered that doing what’s right for our community, our families and our environment is also good for our business.
We’ve made a commitment to running a sustainable and profitable business by integrating green buildings, increasing sustainable transportation, utilizing innovative wastewater treatment and reuse, increasing energy efficiency, and using renewable energy. In 1999, New Belgium became the largest private consumer of wind-power electricity at that time and the first brewery to subscribe to wind energy for its electrical needs . We made a 10-year commitment to buy all of our electricity through the program, which allowed the City of Fort Collins wind program to install an additional turbine and get more of their energy from wind. At the time, using wind increased our total cost per kilowatt-hour by 57 percent, which impacted our employees’ profit sharing pool. Since we’re an employee owned company, we asked ourselves: wind-power or higher short-term profits? Our employees unanimously voted for clean energy and that decision set us on our current path of integrating clean energy and sustainability into our successful and stable business model.
While our first big foray into buying wind power was critical for New Belgium, the U.S. is on the cusp of a much bigger moment in history. We’ve reached a fork in the road on energy where we have to choose between bold, innovative actions or more of the same costly and polluting sources.
The Senate has the opportunity to pass strong clean energy legislation that creates hundreds of thousands of new jobs and caps carbon emissions. If the U.S. fails to act now to invest and lead in these new technologies, America will lose its competitive edge. The $2 trillion-a-year new energy economy will be satisfied overseas. Our median incomes, economic opportunity, and quality of life in the United States will continue to slip.
China has a million workers in this sector. India is doubling their clean energy market in 4 years. Germany is creating nearly 300,000 clean energy jobs and this year and will have more people working in the clean energy industry than the auto industry. It has been said that leading in clean energy production and energy management will be akin to the boom in information technology- with obvious added benefits for our environment and our global stability.
We can’t let this opportunity slip away for America to once again lead. The emerging clean energy economy will transform every profession and every sector of the workforce. Architects and carpenters, engineers and steelworkers, scientists and solar panel installers, entrepreneurs and small business owners – everyday Americans – will have the opportunity to thrive in a clean energy economy. And companies and employees, like those at New Belgium, will benefit from the innovation, stable employment and energy cost savings. How can we not take advantage of this opportunity?
I encourage you to join me in urging Senators Udall and Bennet to take action now to pass strong federal clean energy legislation that makes Colorado and America energy independent. Strong forward thinking action now will grow America’s economy and give life to new industries and a brighter future.
Kim Jordan is the CEO of New Belgium Brewing Company based in Fort Collins Colorado. New Belgium employs 361 people and is a leader in America’s growing craft brewing industry.
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