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The U.S. House of Representatives passed a sweeping energy bill in August 2007 that included a provision directing millions of dollars toward training a "green" workforce. Now it goes to the Senate and President for action.

The Green Jobs Act of 2007 would authorize as much as $125 million a year for the national and state program to train workers in areas such as biofuel development, energy efficient buildings, renewable power, solar panel installation and energy efficient cars.

The program would give priority to workers impacted by federal energy and environmental policy, veterans, the unemployed, and at-risk youths, among others. The investment could create three million jobs, by some estimates.

It would identify and track new jobs and skills vital to the growth of the renewable energy and efficiency industries.

The Ella Baker Center in Oakland inspired the legislation. Van Jones, the organization's president, suggested a "Clean Energy Jobs Bill" at a global warming roundtable discussion and soon began working on the bill with legislators behind the scenes.

"At their best, green-collar jobs offer living wages and upward mobility -- in growth industries," Johnson wrote in his blog last week. “And most of these jobs simply cannot be outsourced to other countries. The reason is simple: the solar panels and wind farms must be constructed here in the United States, not overseas."

Reps. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) and John Tierney (D-Mass.) originally introduced the bill. Solis, a Latina Congresswoman from Los Angeles, introduced the Green Jobs Act of 2007 (H.R. 2847), which is a far-sighted effort to fight pollution and poverty at the same time by creating federally-funded job training within the green economy. Solis is leading the Congress to embrace a new approach. She is saying: "Let's grow the economy by protecting the environment."

The House energy bill also provides funding for alternative fuel production incentives, increasing the number of E-85 pumps, and research into capturing emissions from refineries and coal-burning power plants. It sets new energy efficiency requirements for appliances and government buildings. By 2020, all light bulbs must be 300 times more efficient.

The House energy bill also requires investor-owned utilities to produce 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources while repealing about $16 billion in tax breaks for the oil industry.

The Green Jobs Act would also help identify and track the new jobs and skills needed to grow the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries. Among other things, this effort would link research and development in the green industry to job standards and training curricula.

"...a precious commodity in my home state of California," Miller said today. "Renewable energy and energy efficiency are the keys to addressing global warming while also creating good jobs and strengthening our economy."

The new job training programs would create jobs that put workers on a path to financial self-sufficiency. Funding for these programs could be used to pay for the occupational training itself, as well for support services for workers while they are in the training, like child care. Priority for these training programs would be given to veterans, displaced workers, and at-risk young people.

"As a nation that was built on innovation and technology, I know that we can achieve the goals of becoming energy independent and reducing our global warming emissions. But the strength of our nation’s economy depends on the availability of a highly skilled and well-trained work force," said Solis. "This legislation is an opportunity to advance not only the energy security of our nation, but also the economic security of our families. Through targeted job training efforts, we can support both our nation’s innovation and technological leadership and lift people out of poverty."

For more information about the Green Jobs Act, you can contact Megan J. Uzzell, Congresswoman Solis' Legislative Director (megan.uzzell[at]mail.house.gov) or going to Hilda Solis' webpage. Local offices:

El Monte District Office
4401 Santa Anita Avenue
Suite 211
El Monte, CA 91731
Phone: (626) 448-1271
Fax: (626) 448-8062

East Los Angeles District Office
4716 Cesar Chavez Avenue
Building A
East Los Angeles, CA 90022
Phone: (323) 307-9904
Fax: (323) 307-9906

Edited by Carolyn Allen
| green job training | green jobs | legislation |

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