When it comes to America's financial crisis, there's plenty of blame to go around. You don't have to dig far into the toxic sludge of bad credit, soaring deficits, fiscal mismanagement, and deregulation to see that all of it blends together to form a really big mess. And, you don't need a PhD in economics to know that the financial market meltdown is a warning sign that America's economy is in desperate need of an overhaul.
Leaders of nations, just like executives of financial institutions, are responsible for understanding and responding to new market signals. And as we've learned in the last few months, when they don't, the economies of great nations -- just like the credit worthiness of corporate giants -- can crumble with frightening speed.
Which brings me to the biggest emerging market opportunity of our lifetime. That, of course, is the opportunity to galvanize American technology, workers, ingenuity, and courage to do something truly great -- building a clean energy, good jobs, made in America economy that will power our nation forward in the 21st century.
Clean energy isn't a mirage. It's the fastest growing industrial sector in the United States. It is already generating $25 billion a year in sales and revenue, is growing at 30 percent a year, and has produced more than 500,000 new American jobs over the last three years. And that's happened with almost no support from the federal government.
Imagine the growth in jobs, technology, equipment, suppliers, and productivity if the United States actually treated the development of clean energy as a national economic priority. And consider just as seriously the remarkable benefits to America's security, environment, economic stability, and communities that would be realized by keeping at home the nearly $400 billion that we send each year to foreign nations, many hostile to our interests, to import their oil.
It's time for America to quit bailing and to start building. That's why the Apollo Alliance this month unveiled The New Apollo Program, a comprehensive clean energy, job generating strategy to restore America's economic strength. This 10 year, $500 billion investment plan aims to create 5 million jobs while helping to solve the climate crisis, the energy crisis, and the economic crisis facing our nation. Recalling President John F. Kennedy's bold commitment to put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960's, the Alliance is taking its plan to town hall meetings across the nation to build the popular support that will help President-elect Obama and Congress launch America toward a clean energy future.
The New Apollo Program calls for a sweeping set of actions -- from bold commitments to energy efficiency to dramatic increases in the use of renewable energy to reinvigorating our manufacturing base to building advanced fuel-efficient vehicles -- to put Americans back to work here at home. And, it renews our nation's historic commitment to innovation, research and development, science, and workforce training and education.
Unlike the nation's first Apollo mission, this one isn't rocket science. We can put hundreds of thousands of Americans to work right away by retrofitting the buildings in this country that consume nearly 70% of our electricity and are responsible for almost 40% of our carbon emissions; constructing public transit systems to connect our neighborhoods and cities; building a smart grid to recapture some of the $20 billion we lose each year to transmission inefficiency; and using the sun and the wind to generate clean electricity for our homes and businesses.
Our current economic crisis has reminded us once again that financial engineering and manipulation are not substitutes for long term investment and job creation. The time to change course is now.
People need jobs and relief from high energy costs. Our dependence on oil is putting our nation's security at risk. Foreign competitors are moving rapidly to exploit the opportunities offered by clean energy. We can seize the opportunity to become the leader of a new global green economy. We're Americans. Let's do it.
Phil Angelides is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Apollo Alliance, a national coalition of labor, environmental, business, and community leaders committed to building a clean energy, good jobs economy.