Biden to Philly: Green jobs are coming
PHILLY got a little greener yesterday.
Vice President Joe Biden brought the first meeting of his middle-class task force to Philadelphia for a discussion on so-called "green jobs" - typically defined as jobs that benefit the environment. The conversation focused on how those jobs would boost economic recovery, as well as help the United States achieve greater energy independence.
"Look, folks, we are making an unprecedented investment in the recovery of this country and an unprecedented investment in clean energy," Biden said. He noted that green jobs are "good high-paying jobs, the vast majority of which are not exportable."
President Obama's $787 billion stimulus package contains substantial "green" funding, including $500 million for a green-job- training program and $5 billion to help people weatherize their homes.
Politicians, business leaders and environmental experts spoke about the "green economy" before an impressive collection of top White House officials, including Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, at Irvine Auditorium at the University of Pennsylvania.
"Today's focus on green jobs can help us focus on building the new economy we so desperately need," said John Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress. "These are familiar jobs, there's nothing fancy about green jobs. They're in engineering and construction and manufacturing."
Biden said yesterday's session was the first in a year of monthly meetings around the country that would focus on a variety of topics, including retirement benefits and education. His task force is charged with making recommendations on how to boost the country's middle class.
Mayor Nutter, who addressed the task force, said Philadelphia had been selected as the first workshop location because of the city's green-job efforts. Proving his point, a total of $1.3 million in grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation were awarded to green-job projects in the city yesterday.
"Philadelphia is turning to new opportunities to create jobs and secure its position as a city of the future," Nutter said, noting that green jobs cover many industries and skill sets. "Whether you have a GED or a Ph.D., we have a job opportunity for you in Philadelphia in the new green economy."
Nutter told the task force that Philly expects to get enough stimulus money to ramp up weatherizations from 5,000 a year to 50,000 a year - an increase he said would create more than 2,500 jobs. He also pledged to create a regional energy-efficiency authority that would pool money to support environmental pro-jects.
Other panelists spoke about how states can increase energy efficiency, how labor unions are training for the green economy and how green jobs can improve poor neighborhoods.
Van Jones, president and founder of Green Jobs for All, drew a standing ovation for his remarks on how green jobs can revitalize depressed neighborhoods and provide hope to young people with few options.
"We have young people just blocks from this building who have no hope, no future, they're going to funerals every weekend," Jones said. "We're good at telling those young people what they should stop doing. We aren't as good at telling them what they can do. This green movement, this green wave has a moral responsibility to be a green wave that lifts all boats." *