10/21/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Labor Day 2009: Protect the American Worker with a Clean Energy Economy

In one of life's cruel ironies, this year's Labor Day coincides with unemployment at its highest in 25 years. But it also represents an opportunity to re-emphasize the importance of the American worker and the future we must provide for our workforce.

Last month, unemployment rose to 9.7%, the highest since 1983, as the economy saw 216,000 jobs lost. These numbers are too large for the returning Congress to ignore and they should immediately set to passing a comprehensive clean energy bill that can help reverse the direction of unemployment before we reach double-digit figures.

Numerous studies confirm that transitioning to a clean energy economy is one of the most effective ways to pull our nation out of the current economic crisis. Clean energy sources like wind and solar power create up to 3 times more jobs than old, dirty sources like coal and oil that got us here in the first place. That's why it's good economic policy to switch to clean energy -- while also ensuring cleaner air and water for generations to come.

More importantly real world experience bears this out: the leading manufacturers of wind, solar and other alternative energy technologies are thriving in Japan, Europe and China, while the U.S. lags behind. Only one-sixth of the world's top renewable energy manufacturers are based in the United States, which means we are losing out on millions of new jobs. That's why both major labor unions and leading business groups support the passage of clean energy legislation.

Instead of allowing companies to continue shipping jobs and dollars overseas, the American Clean Energy & Security Act, which passed the House in June, would spark American ingenuity, help create 1.7 million new jobs, and make the U.S. a global leader in clean energy.

Senators will certainly be pressured by their constituents to fix our jobs crisis and it's clear that their best bet at providing relief is by finishing what the House started: passing a comprehensive clean energy bill that will create jobs, cut our dependence on foreign oil, and reduce harmful global warming pollution.