The Philadelphia Navy Yard is going full speed ahead with its transformation from urban toxic eyesore to a hub for new green jobs and clean energy innovation. The latest step in particular reveals the power of clean energy to create new jobs, even to the extent of pulling new jobs into the U.S. from overseas companies: Mark Group, one of Europe’s biggest home energy efficiency companies, is making a new home at the Navy Yard and expects to hire more than 300 workers.
Brown Fields and Green Jobs
The Navy Yard languished for decades after its ship-building operations folded in the early 1970′s, but site clean-up finally began and about ten years ago jobs began trickling back in. Things are revving up under the Obama administration. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has focused on creating new green jobs on reclaimed industrial sites like the Navy Yard, which will become the site of what is believed to be the largest urban solar array in the U.S. Now the trickle is poised to turn into a flood.
Oh Those Pesky Meddling Government Planners
The Department of Energy has just designated the Navy Yard as an “Energy Innovation Hub,” one of only three in the nation, with a pledge of $122 million to get it rolling. More to the point, the Navy Yard’s energy hub will focus on developing new energy efficient building systems, which happens to be Mark Goup’s specialty — oh, so that’s why they are coming all the way here from across the pond to create new green jobs. A hefty loan guarantee along with grants and a tax credit from the Pennsylvania Governor’s Action Team also played a crucial role. Don’t you love it when a plan comes together? The Governor’s Action Team, by the way, has established a solid job-creating track record in Pennsylvania since it was launched in 2003, with 430,000 jobs retained or created along with $16 billion in new investment leveraged through just $2.2 billion in funding.
Oh That Pesky Meddling U.S. Chamber of Commerce
According to recent reports, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also throwing a lot of cash around and may also be attracting foreign interest, only it’s not quite clear whether any new jobs are involved. Think Progress has been reporting on the Chamber’s foreign funding, The New York Times reveals the Chamber’s big corporate funders, and Time recently did a rundown on the millions that the Chamber has pumped into local races for attack ads, many of which are aimed against candidates who support clean energy legislation. Pennsylvania’s own Joe Stestak, a strong supporter of clean energy legislation, has been weathering these Chamber-funded attack ads. If you don’t usually vote in mid-term elections, now would be a good time to start.
The U.S. Chamber and Pennsylvania
Given Pennsylvania’s enthusiastic embrace of clean energy investments, it’s little wonder that the antics of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are starting to raise some hackles across the state. According to The Washington Monthly, the Butler County Chamber of Commerce is not longer a member, and its president has said of the U.S. Chamber, “They’ve abandoned the interests of smaller chambers like mine for their larger corporate members.” That’s just one county but hey, just a few years ago the U.S. Chamber monkey wrenched economic activity in the entire state of Missouri by exhorting its members not to do business there. With friends like these, who needs enemies – especially when it comes to creating new green jobs here in the U.S.
Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.