House Energy Bill to Boost Green Job Training

House Energy Bill to Boost Green Job Training

The House of Representatives passed a sweeping energy bill Saturday that included a provision directing millions of dollars toward training a "green" workforce.

The Green Jobs Act of 2007 would authorize as much as $125 million a year for the national and state program to train workers in areas such as biofuel development, energy efficient buildings, renewable power, solar panel installation and energy efficient cars.

The program would give priority to workers impacted by federal energy and environmental policy, veterans, the unemployed, and at-risk youths, among others. The investment could create three million jobs, by some estimates.

It would identify and track new jobs and skills vital to the growth of the renewable energy and efficiency industries.

The Ella Baker Center in Oakland inspired the legislation. Van Jones, the organization's president, suggested a "Clean Energy Jobs Bill" at a global warming roundtable discussion and soon began working on the bill with legislators behind the scenes.

"At their best, green-collar jobs offer living wages and upward mobility -- in growth industries," Johnson wrote in his blog last week. "And most of these jobs simply cannot be outsourced to other countries. The reason is simple: the solar panels and wind farms must be constructed here in the United States, not overseas."

Reps. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) and John Tierney (D-Mass.) originally introduced the bill.

The House energy bill also provides funding for alternative fuel production incentives, increasing the number of E-85 pumps, and research into capturing emissions from refineries and coal-burning power plants. It sets new energy efficiency requirements for appliances and government buildings. By 2020, all light bulbs must be 300 times more efficient.

The House energy bill also requires investor-owned utilities to produce 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources while repealing about $16 billion in tax breaks for the oil industry.

The bill lacks a fuel efficiency requirement but some legislators are expected to revisit in the fall. The Senate energy bill passed in June calls for a 35 mile per gallon requirement for cars and light trucks sold in the U.S.