I’m ambivalent about economic studies on the “clean” economy for at least two reasons. First, authors of such studies equate “clean” largely with “low-carbon.” Thus, a nuclear power plant is “clean” because it has no carbon dioxide emissions, even if it stockpiles radioactive nuclear waste, while a natural gas pipeline, which delivers non-polluting natural gas to replace dirty coal in power plants, is not. I give clean water equal weight with C02 emissions, just as I do for clean air, preservation of wildlife habitat and reduction of toxic and radioactive waste. Second, these studies often inflate the numbers of “clean” workers. Bus drivers and garbage men? Really?
Such quibbles aside, “Sizing the Clean Economy: A National and Regional Green Jobs Assessment,” published by the Brookings Institution, provides an interesting snapshot on the continuing evolution of the economy. Over time, the economy undoubtedly will grow greener and cleaner, and metropolitan regions that can capitalize on that growth will benefit.
Among the 50 states Virginia ranks 15th by the total number of clean jobs. On a clean intensity scale (clean jobs as a percentage of all jobs), the Old Dominion ranks 36th. See the state profile here.
Within Virginia, the Washington metro area leads the way, with a clean job intensity of 2.3%, 27th out of the nation’s largest 100 metropolitan areas. With a clean job intensity of 1.7%, the Richmond region ranks 54th — although its clean job growth outpaced the national average between 2007 and 2010. Hampton Roads had a clean job intensity of 1.1%, ranking it 89th in the country.