Sunday, January 18, 2009

Congressional Testimony on Green Jobs

Van Jones, J.D., and President of Green For All, testified recently about Green Jobs before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. He spoke about how the twin crises facing our nation, the economic catastrophe and climate change, are linked and could undermine our nation's security. He believes that creating green jobs will rescue the American economy, save energy and money, and help fight poverty and global warming pollution at the same time. A video containing portions of his testimony is here.

In his written testimony, Van Jones referred to the Green Recovery report which showed how $100 billion of smartly invested and leveraged federal dollars can create two million new jobs in the next two years. The report also showed that the same amount of money invested in energy efficiency and renewable energy actually creates FOUR TIMES as many jobs as the same money invested in the oil industry.

His written testimony states, "Furthermore, investments in renewable energy will help create economies of scale, which will drive down the price of these technologies – and they will level the playing field with the subsidized fossil fuel industry. In the long run, smart policy and investment will drive down prices for clean, renewable, homegrown energy sources. But if we cling to the old, carbon-intensive energy technologies, then the price we all pay – in volatile economic costs, in climate disruption and in threats to our national security – will continue to climb. And the poor will be hit – first and worst – by every one of those rising costs. A well thought out shift to a clean energy economy offers more work, more wealth and better health to disadvantaged communities than does any plausible, business-as-usual scenario."

Congress failed to appropriate the funds necessary for the Green Jobs Act of 2007 that would have made money available for green job training across the country. Jones' testimony states, "When it comes to rhetoric about green jobs, we are experiencing a bubble. But when it comes to advancing meaningful, federal legislation for green jobs, we are still in a bowl. As someone who gives a lot of speeches, myself, let me say: messages and inspiration are important. But the American people cannot eat political sound-bites. They cannot take shelter under slogans. People need real job training, real service opportunities and real jobs – right now, desperately. As you consider the upcoming economic recovery package, I urge you and your colleagues to seek full funding – and more – for the Green Jobs Act."

Van Jones also urged Congress to go beyond the Green Jobs Act and create something bolder: a Clean Energy Corps to retrofit millions of buildings, to give community service opportunities, job training and employment to hundreds of thousands of people. His Green For All organization and others are developing a proposal for that initiative which will be submitted for the Congressional committee’s review.

The full written testimony by Van Jones is here, and the Green Recovery report is here.

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