We’re just back from Denver where we hosted our fourth meeting. It was on the green economy and the opportunities therein for middle-class folks.
Jared Bernstein, the Executive Director of the Middle Class Task Force and the Vice President's Chief Economist, puts recent events on clean energy and the economy into perspective:
Hey, taskforce fans. We’re just back from Denver where we hosted our fourth meeting. It was on the green economy and the opportunities therein for middle-class folks. VP Biden was joined by all kinds of interesting partners from our world, including Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis; Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan; Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack; Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Poneman; United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk; and Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Van Jones.
Once again, the Vice-President hosted a town-hall style meeting because that’s the best way for him and the rest of this crew to learn what middle-class families are going through right now, and how these issues resonate with them (read the Vice President’s opening remarks).
Those who’ve been with us from the beginning will notice that this is our second taskforce meeting on this topic of green jobs. This is no accident: our emphasis on green energy occurs at the intersection of two of the Obama Administration’s most important policy initiatives: protecting the environment and creating good jobs.
On the first point—fighting back against global warming—this past week has been a good one. On Tuesday the President hosted an historic event where stakeholders who have been at odds for years on this stuff came together to support a much higher mileage standard for vehicles. (BTW, IMHO one of President Obama’s more important skills is the ability to take folks who traditionally line up on opposite sides and bring them together—you see it in health care too.)
The administration’s plan to promote clean energy use also made some headway in Congress last week.
Then there’s green jobs, which we define broadly (and loosely—there is no official definition) as jobs that help to improve the environment in some way. That includes blue collar workers building out the smart grid to efficiently move the wind power (green, renewable energy) across the land. It includes "weatherizers" who can diagnose and repair the energy inefficiencies in your house or business. And it includes the green manufacturers who made those wind turbines or the scientists and lab technicians who developed those renewable energy sources and weatherization materials.
It’s important to see the connection between these various initiatives: our clean energy agenda, mileage standards, and green jobs. By setting higher mileage standards and by promoting incentives to use clean energy (while reducing our dependence on foreign oil), we create new demand for the science, techniques, products, and tools to meet the standards. We help to grow the market for more efficient engines and new production techniques that reduce carbon emissions. And a growing market means more jobs for middle-class families.
Now, with new markets come new labor demands, and new demand requires new supply. In this case, we’ll need more workers with the skills to meet the demands, and that’s a big focus of our Denver meeting. We’re announcing a great, new green jobs training program funded by $500 million from the Recovery Act.
So, go green, and go taskforce!