EPA has just announced a $3.6 million job training program aimed at cleaning up derelict industrial property and other contaminated sites. The new green jobs program, called Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training, provides local residents with training and certification leading to careers in recycling, brownfields assessment and cleanup, wastewater treatment, stormwater management, emergency response, oil spill cleanup, solar installation, and Superfund site remediation.
The new program complements EPA’s Re-Powering America’s Lands initiative, which has also been creating green jobs by reclaiming brownfields and other classified sites for renewable energy projects.
Creating Green Jobs In Brownfields
Aside from training in the growing green jobs field, the Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training program includes a couple of social twofers. It is specifically aimed at getting persons with significant barriers to employment into advanceable careers, so recruitment includes veterans, minority groups, and low income persons.
The other twofer is that the program’s on-the-job training is focused on cleaning up contaminated sites that are local to the trainees, meaning that they are improving their own neighborhoods while building skills.
The just-announced $3.6 million grant is actually the 239th in a series dating back to 1998. The grant awardees are local nonprofits that partner with prospective employers, which has enabled the program to achieve a creditable placement rate of 71 percent.
For those of you tracking progress on the minimum wage, the green jobs fields targeted by the program have an average hourly starting wage of $14.00.
More And Better Green Jobs
The aforementioned Re-Powering Americas Lands program is just one other example of a federal environmental initiative leading to job creation.
Another interesting one is AgStar, which is aimed at promoting manure-to-biogas systems for dairy farmers and other livestock operations. Aside from bottom-line benefits for the existing operation, manure recovery also has the potential to enable farmers to expand their business without running afoul of environmental regulations.
As for energy efficiency, the new industry-supported federal Green Button program for utility bills has already sparked new job-creating activity, including software development for energy management programs.
EPA Vs. Keystone XL Pipeline
Oh, the irony! Just yesterday, Republicans in the Senate killed a bipartisan, industry-supported energy efficiency bill that would have created even more jobs in the energy efficiency field.
As for why the “party of job creation” decided not to support a measure that has won the enthusiastic support of the nation’s makers, one word: Keystone.
Because the bipartisan bill was all but certain to pass, certain Republican legislators (you know who you are) wanted to tack on an amendment to the efficiency bill that would have enabled Congress to approve the controversial Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline. When Senate leader Harry Reid refused, the Republican side of the aisle refused to provide enough votes to avoid a filibuster.
Cosmic coincidence comes into play here, too. It has recently come to light that the now-notorious, politically influential Koch brothers stand to gain enormously from approval of the Keystone pipeline, which goes a long way toward explaining why Keystone supporters claim that the project is an irreplaceable job-creating engine when it clearly is not.
Meanwhile, Senator Reid — yes, the very same guy who just quashed what we can now call the Koch amendment on the efficiency bill — has been calling attention to the influence of the Koch brothers on the legislative process.
Case in point.
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