When it comes to a Climate Bill, it's Time to 'Turn Momentum into Action'


Image credit: greenforall.org/Flickr

The debate over job creation and a national climate bill has, for most people, been settled. We know that ACES could create 1.7 million jobs and help America regain a competitive edge in the world economy. Now, the first draft of the Senate climate and clean energy bill is complete and, so far, it still includes two provisions integral to green jobs creation: the Green Construction Careers Demonstration Project and funding for the Green Jobs Act.

Today, Green for All, an organization "dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans through a clean energy economy," held a national briefing call to highlight the inclusion of these two important provisions.

Green Construction Careers Demonstration Project

The original ACES act defined the Green Construction Careers Demonstration Project as a way to "promote middle class careers and quality employment practices in the green construction sector." That definition seems simple but the actual means by which this goal will be achieved are a bit more complex.

During the national briefing call, Jason Walsh, national policy director for Green For All, explained that there are three key elements of this provision that will help build green jobs in America. Specifically, it will:

  • Establish a green career pipeline that will help bring young people living in low-income areas into apprentice programs and on to career-level construction jobs. Based on programs already showing success in California, such a pipeline ensures that qualified workers find their way to available jobs. More importantly, as Madeline Janis, executive director of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy , explained, this pipeline "takes public money and turns it into good green jobs for the people that need them the most."

  • Create opportunities for local communities by requiring that projects use a minimum number of local, low-income, workers.

  • Enforce uniform guidelines that will govern the safety, training, and benefits available to all workers on all projects, as defined by the Secretary of Labor.

Funding for The Green Jobs Act

The Green Jobs Act, which has been in effect since 2007, was originally passed as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act. Providing the funding to extend this provision is vitally important to building a green workforce in the future.

The most significant benefit of the Green Jobs act is that it provides crucial training to low-income workers so they can form the workforce that will be needed to drive the green economy. Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, chief executive officer of Green for All, explained that this act is a way to "invest in those people and communities to build pathways to prosperity."

Time for Action

Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins ended the briefing with a call to action to the more than 1,500 people that dialed in to listen. She said that getting ACES to the Senate was a victory, and that the Boxer-Kerry bill was an important step forward but, she added, the job was not finished. "Now is the time," she told listeners, "for us to be more bold than we have been in the past."

Indeed, with only a few months before Copenhagen, we must, as Ellis-Lamkins implored, "transform momentum into action."

A recording of the briefing will be available on the Green for All website.
Read more about the climate bill:
Climate Bill Vote is Today: Everything You Need to Know
Historic Climate Bill Passes House of Reps
Senate Climate Bill Delayed - Why That's Not Such a Bad Thing
TreeHugger Talks Climate with Bill Clinton

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