Green Jobs In Obama’s Speech If You Dig For Them

Green jobs, green jobs, green jobs – where were the green jobs in the Obama jobs plan speech delivered to Congress last night? A glance at the plethora of material put out by the White House doesn’t immediately suggest green jobs, which the President glazed over last night, were on his agenda. If you look, and listen, closely though, you do see some green poking out of the $447 billion American Jobs Act.

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Consider this paragraph from Obama’s speech, for example:

“Already, we’ve mobilized business leaders to train 10,000 American engineers a year, by providing company internships and training.  Other businesses are covering tuition for workers who learn new skills at community colleges.  And we’re going to make sure the next generation of manufacturing takes root not in China or Europe, but right here, in the United States of America.  (Applause)  If we provide the right incentives, the right support — and if we make sure our trading partners play by the rules — we can be the ones to build everything from fuel-efficient cars to advanced biofuels to semiconductors that we sell all around the world.  That’s how America can be number one again.  And that’s how America will be number one again.”

Also, via the material available from the White House regarding breakdowns of the American Jobs Act:

  • Modernizing At Least 35,000 Public Schools: “Permissible uses of funds would include a range of emergency repair and renovation projects, greening and energy efficiency upgrades, asbestos abatement and removal, and modernization efforts to build new science and computer labs and to upgrade technology in our schools.”
  • Modernizing Community Colleges To Train a 21st Century Workforce: Though there’s no direct reference to green jobs in this part of the fact sheets, we’ve found through countless stories that community colleges often act as training grounds for renewable energy sector positions.
  • Funding for Innovative Transportation: “The plan includes $10 billion for innovative ways of financing and investing in infrastructure. This includes $4 billion to develop high-speed rail corridors…”
  • National Infrastructure Bank ($10 billion): One could argue this proposed institution, which would offer “Federal resources for infrastructure to projects that demonstrate the most merit and may be difficult to fund under the current patchwork of Federal programs,” could go towards items like high speed rail.

And the list goes on (i.e. Project Rebuild, for example, which would see to the rehabilitation of homes, businesses and communities impacted by economic downturn. Green building ideas could occur here.) Others have taken note of these elements in Obama’s speech last night as well:

  • E2 Wire (The Hill): “President Obama’s jobs proposal, unveiled Thursday, calls for a $25 billion effort to modernize at least 35,000 public schools — and making them greener is part of the plan.”
  • BlueGreen Alliance: “Bold ideas like an infrastructure bank will strengthen America’s efforts to build a 21st century transportation infrastructure – which is essential for businesses to compete and thrive in a global economy where Europe and China are fast racing ahead.”
  • National Biodiesel Board: “We were thrilled to hear President Obama reaffirm his support for advanced biofuels.”
  • U.S. Green Building Council: ““Energy retrofits especially, and the jobs and innovation embedded in this one activity, are a cornerstone to broader economic recovery in every sector.”
  • Demos: “While there are no new programs for clean energy development or large-scale energy efficiency projects, a significant portion of the jobs created through the American Jobs Act will make our natural and built environments more sustainable.”

So why didn’t he call them green jobs specifically? Solyndra, wacky green jobs reporting in the mainstream media and other factors give that phrase a bit of a black eye at the moment to some. The green jobs are there in his jobs package, however, and now Congress takes up the larger mantle of whether it wants to pay the President’s economic price for this jobs plan.

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