The folks at Consequence have a great new action tool for young people to pressure Congress to support green jobs legislation: a job application form.
It’s up to our leaders in Washington to unlock this potential by passing comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation.
To show Congress we need clean energy jobs, young people are sending résumés to the Senate and demanding they give us this opportunity.
In the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll, a vast majority believe developing new energy sources needs to be a higher priority for the federal government. And 54% say President Obama has no clear plan for creating jobs. Now is the time to act. The public wants a green jobs future, and young workers need those opportunities more than ever.
Momentum is building in the Senate for Senators Susan Collins’ (ME-R) and Maria Cantwell’s (WA-D) energy bill, the CLEAR Act, which would create a “cap-and-refund” approach. The bill limits the amount of emissions, but allows polluters to purchase credits for addition emissions. But rather than create a free market for these sales, they are sold by the government and the profits are distributed to taxpayers. Any bill that creates real incentives for investment in clean energy will create green jobs, so if this is the best bill that can pass the Senate, pass it.
America is in a jobs crisis. According to an April report, The Jobs Deficit, by the middle-of-the-road New America Foundation, we are short 12.3 million jobs (thats the difference between people looking for work and available jobs):
Here is a look at what has stalled in Congress that would address this deficit gap, while bickering over the size of government distracts:
- The American Power Act, which President Obama failed to demand the Senate pass last night, would create an average of 203,000 to 440,000 more jobs per year through 2020. This is the time for green jobs legislation, but if the President stalls to happily “look at other ideas and approaches from either party” (as he did with healthcare legislation), we will be lacking the necessary leadership to get a bill passed.
- The American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010, as watered down as it is, will inject $1 billion over ten-years into summer youth employment programs, creating 300,000 jobs for the youngest workers.
- The Education Jobs Fund, introduced by Senator Harkin, would save more than 300,000 school jobs (teachers, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, cafeteria workers) by injecting $23 billion into local boards of education over two years.
- 6-month extension of Federal Medicaid matching funds. This money is critical to maintaining basic government services and public sector jobs. Cutting jobs and unemployment benefits is not the way to restore fiscal discipline, let alone grow the economy. The Senate has re-included this as part of the Jobs Bill (HR 4213) that they are voting on today, but it is expected to fail in favor of some unclear compromise.
We need to get America back to work in a way where everyone prospers, not just the few at the top. Congress must act now.
That’s what President Obama needs to announce during his national address from the Oval Office tonight. A real investment in clean energy solutions will spur creation of green jobs. Everything from the manufacturing of steel for wind turbines to their engineering design and placement and then the on-site installation and maintenance. These are jobs that will bring back manufacturing, create a real investment in our future, and move us a step closer to ending our reliance on greenhouse gasses that are poisoning our environment.
On NPR this morning, WH Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, previewing what the President will say, demanded accountability and action by BP to not just stop the leak but financially support the fishermen who can’t fish, the hotel workers who have canceled reservations, the chefs who cannot get anyone to eat in their restaurant. “They have to pay for the cleanup. They have to pay for the restoration of the environmental damage that they’ve done. And they’ve got to pay the economic claims for those in the Gulf region whose livelihoods have been damaged as a result of their mismanagement”.
That’s great, important, needed, but its not enough.
According to the US Congress Joint Economic Committee: One-in-five young workers is unemployed. They make up 26% of the unemployed. 16-24 year olds are concentrated in industries that are particularily sensitive to business cycles.
Yesterday, the President toured areas of the Gulf region that have been hard hit economically since the oil spill, 56 days ago. He showed us that the restaurants are still safe to eat in and the beaches are still beautiful. His goal was not to let the tourism industry wither. Tonight he must tell us how he plans to revive our national economy and get young people back to work. He must not allow a generation to wither. A green jobs stimulus is a great place to start.
With Senators Kerry and Lieberman (and Graham) introducing their energy bill today, we need to remember who is taking on jobs in the energy field: young workers. Reform can and should bring good, green jobs that cannot be off-shored and will make other American businesses more competitive. Green jobs is America’s opportunity to return to manufacturing with young workers standing the most to gain.
Young workers are increasingly being steered into jobs in the energy field. Why? Because they are one of the few sources of jobs that pay well without needing a formal college education. But these jobs need stronger health and safety standards and better focus on sustainability and renewable sources.
In Louisiana, along the way to the Gulf Coast where the oil spill occurred, are billboards lining the highways advertising jobs. Much like in the mining field, oil workers understand the risks they take when they make the choice to put their lives on the line to take care of their families. As Chuck Falgout, health, safety and environmental manager at Gulf Offshore Logistics told MSNBC: “There are always inherent elements of danger — there’s always a worst case scenario — but this is our livelihood.”
With lots of workers in the energy fields retiring, this has become a source of good jobs for young workers. As NPR reported last year, “The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers says nearly half its members nationwide are up for retirement in the next few years”. This requires attracting and training young workers, but it should also be an opportunity for us to update antiquated equipment to increase health and safety standards.
The three major workplace incidents this year all were in the energy field: Kleen Energy Plant explosion in Connecticut, Massey Energy mine collapse in West Virginia, and now the Deepwater Horizon fire and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. We need stronger regulations with tough enforcement policies to ensure that young workers are not in dangering their lives for a decent paycheck.
Yesterday concluded the three-day Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference in DC to examine how we can save the planet and make sure everyone has a good job. Key to any strategy in this regard is young workers.
If the oil spill in the Gulf Coast has only one lesson, its that this country needs to diversify its energy portfolio to include less reliance on potentially environmentally and economically disastrous sources. Its not only good for the environment, its good for our future.
As Bruce Usher, of the Columbia Business School, points out in an op-ed in today’s New York Times, the US is potentially forfeiting leadership in energy industry to China. Why is China developing this sector so rapidly? Jobs. “The United States, with its expertise, capital and entrepreneurial spirit, is well positioned to dominate what could easily be the biggest market of the 21st century.”
The way out of this recession is by getting back to basics. Getting back to building the industrial heart of this country and out of the paper chase that is Wall Street. Yesterday’s topsy-turvey market should be an indication of the roller coaster economy driven by trusting the financial sector with providing economic growth.
Green jobs could be to the current generation of young workers what the auto plants were to generations of workers from the 1950s through 70s: a ticket to the middle-class. Shortly after the inauguration, President Obama went to work to help fill the demand for talented workers in the sustainability field by creating training programs, investing in clean energy partnerships, and, through the stimulus, funding good, green jobs. But there is still a lot of work to do. As Billy Parish, the founder of Energy Action Coalition, put it: “I applaud President Obama on an extremely successful 100 days, but I ask for more. The young people of America are ready and willing to serve. Let’s give them the opportunity.”