Friday, March 14, 2008

Industry and Environmental Groups Agree: Green Jobs are Good Jobs

The Good Jobs Green Jobs Conference taking place in Pittsburgh March 13 and 14 has an ambitious agenda: to reshape America's economy. The groups involved--including unions, environmental organizations and corporations--have found unusual common ground on the future of the country's workforce. Green industry--everything from construction, to retrofitting older buildings, to manufacturing, to energy production, will and in some cases already is, a boon to the U.S.'s flagging economy. According to Kathleen McGinty, Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania is leading the way through investment in green businesses and by backing entrepreneurs with environmentally friendly ideas. She thinks this niche will not only provide new jobs, but will boomerang jobs that have been outsourced, back to the U.S.

A number of speakers, including Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Ryba pointed out what a rare political opportunity harnessing green industry could be since it not only boosts employment in a growth industry, but it also benefits the environment.

The conference was convened by the Blue Green Alliance, a partnership between the United Steel Workers and the Sierra Club created through the shared interest of environmentally sound economics. Carl Pope, director of the Sierra Club says the two groups have not always seen eye to eye, but their history makes them comfortable working together. Pope says now it's a matter of getting everyone else on board, including Washington D.C.

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