Green Jobs Could Mean Green for Workers

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WASHINGTON - Some 2,500 environmental and labor advocates are rallying this week at a Washington conference and expo to push green jobs.

While the Capitol Hill battle over the stimulus bill has been fierce, few have objected to the parts of the plan that would create green projects and jobs.

Click the player to watch the report from CBN News Senior Washington Correspondent Paul Strand, followed by Pat Robertson's comments on green jobs.

David Foster's Blue-Green Alliance organized the conference. 

"A green job is really nothing more than a blue-collar job with a green purpose," he told CBN News.

An example would be those that help make solar and wind energy available.

"The steel that goes into the wind turbine, the copper wire, the cement, the rebar that's put the wind turbine up.those are all green jobs," said United Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard.

But Gerard said it also goes way beyond energy-providers.

"If we create a fuel-efficient vehicle, that's a green job," he explained.  "If we change windows to energy-efficient glass, those are green jobs.  So they're not a kind of illusion.  They exist.  And it's about how we move to the newest level of scientific innovation."

Five Million New Jobs?

President Obama says greening America can create five million jobs.

Many are already trained for them.

"There are about 1.4 million construction workers who are out of work today," Foster pointed out.  "These are all people who have the skills to build and to retrofit, to clean up, to build the big commercial retrofitting projects that will make our buildings energy-efficient."

America Must Hurry to Get in the Race

But he said the bad economy has left many of these workers out in the cold.

"All those skills are currently sitting at home, idle, doing nothing," he said.  "We just need to have the public will, the programs, the financing mechanisms to put those people to work."

If America doesn't hurry, those at this "Good Jobs, Green Jobs" conference warned overseas businesses will get all the work.

Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, provided an example.

"The wind industry really started kicking off around four or five years ago, and only about 20 percent or 30 percent of what was being manufactured was being manufactured here," she explained.

But she told CBN News that's just a waste, transporting huge turbines and parts that make them work from overseas to capture American energy.

"It needs to be manufactured here because of the size, the quantity -- there are 8,000 parts in a wind turbine," Bode said.

U.S. Economy Crippling Green Industries

But the broken financial system is crippling these new green industries getting on their feet in America.

"Our problem right now isn't that these enterprises wouldn't be profitable," Foster said.  "It's that nobody is lending the money in order to make these projects feasible."

Americans aren't just missing out on green jobs, but the chance to break the stranglehold of foreign oil.

"A lot of Americans have grown very tired and weary of feeling that we're constantly a hostage to energy sources outside our borders," Foster explained.  "And so every dollar we spend on clean energy today is a dollar towards our energy security. It makes homegrown sources of energy widely available. And we don't have to worry about living in a world of $4 gasoline," he continued.  "We don't have to worry about living in a world where our future is controlled by somebody else."

This conference gave the 2,500 attendees a chance to organize and strategize on how to promote green jobs. They also assaulted Capitol Hill, telling lawmakers they want them to support these industries that should make America more energy-efficient and less polluting.

"These are what I consider win-win-win jobs," Gerard said.  "We're affecting climate.  We're creating good jobs.  We're protecting good jobs and we're creating the kind of infrastructure that our kids will inherit that's better than the one we've got."

*Originally aired on February 6, 2009.

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