Who is Sen. DeMint Working for?

Just who is South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint working for?

Last week, the Republican senator introduced legislation (S. 2064) that would terminate existing incentives for clean energy technologies.

You’d think South Carolina’s senator would want to protect his state’s interests, especially when it comes to jobs and the economy. South Carolina is quickly becoming a leader in clean energy technology manufacturing – in no small part thanks to some of the very government initiatives Sen. DeMint is now trying to kill.

If DeMint is successful in his pursuit to choke off federal support for one of the most promising sectors of our economy, it could hit his state hard.

South Carolina’s clean economy now employs more than 50,000 workers, including more than 15,000 who work directly to develop, manufacture, and deploy renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, according to the Brookings Institution.  The state’s clean energy sector is also adding jobs at a much faster rate than the state’s overall economy.  Job growth in South Carolina’s clean energy sector increased by 5.7% from 2007 to 2010—a very impressive figure in what has been one of worst economic climates in the U.S. since the Great Depression.  This growth compares with the overall contraction of South Carolina’s job market which, as the state’s current employment statistics show, decreased in employment by 7.3% over roughly the same period (January 2008 to December 2010).

At least 13 manufacturing facilities in South Carolina produce components for the wind energy industry, including GE, which has a major manufacturing plant in Greenville. GE’s facility there is the home of GE’s engineering for its energy business and has over 3,000 employees developing and manufacturing advanced gas and wind turbines. It’s also one of biggest exporters in the state of South Carolina.  Watch this video here to see how GE employees are working to keep America on the cutting edge of energy innovation.

South Carolina is also home to at least 16 factories that make components for more clean and efficient vehicles.  It’s one of the top 10 states currently employing the highest number of autoworkers in clean, efficient technologies--over 6,900 workers in total.  Take, for example, KEMET Corporation which opened a new manufacturing facility in October 2011 in Simsponville, SC that will produce components for electric vehicles, as well as other clean energy technologies.  The plant will create more than 110 new jobs as it becomes fully operational.  A grant from the Department of Energy and incentives from the state of South Carolina coupled with the company’s investment helped to make the plant possible.

Solar manufacturing is also coming to South Carolina.  Global Energy Franchise just announced in November 2011 its plans to open its first solar panel plant in Blacksburg, SC.  The company plans to make photovoltaic solar energy panels and accessories for residents and businesses.  Production is expected to begin in the spring of 2012 and the company expects to create 81 full-time jobs in the near term and as many as 220 over the next four years with a potential expansion of the plant.

South Carolina is a perfect example of how the clean energy industry is helping to reshape and reinvigorate our economy nationally, thanks to government support. Companies, such as GE, KMET and Global Energy Franchise, are replacing jobs in South Carolina that disappeared when the textile industry began moving jobs overseas.  Together, these clean energy companies are creating a welcome bright spot for the state’s economy, creating good-paying jobs from the Upstate to the Low Country.

Sen. DeMint’s bill would jeopardize this progress for his state.  It would repeal critical incentives to support the installation and production of clean energy, including wind turbines and solar panels, as well as cellulosic ethanol. 

Sen. DeMint is clearly not working to help South Carolina’s growing businesses and workers advance clean energy technologies, create jobs, and build a cleaner, more prosperous future for his state and the country.   By repealing these tax incentives, he’s not helping them to grow their businesses and protect their workers at a time when jobs and economic  growth are paramount to our country.

Americans want a cleaner energy future, and South Carolina constituents are no exception. The public wants our nation to be the leader in energy innovation and capture the jobs that will come from developing and manufacturing clean energy technologies. 

So the question remains—who is Sen. DeMint working for? 

About the Authors

Christina Angelides

Director, City Energy Project and Senior Advocate, Urban Solutions

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