Government announces money for green jobs, training |

Government announces money for green jobs, training

Dan Elliott
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Vice President Joe Biden speaks as he chairs a Middle Task Force Meeting at the Museum of Nature and Science in Denver, on Tuesday, May 26, 2009. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

DENVER ” Vice President Joe Biden and two Cabinet secretaries unveiled national programs Tuesday to train workers for “green jobs” that make public housing more energy-efficient.

Biden, Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced their plans at a meeting of President Barack Obama’s Middle Class Task Force in Denver.

Donovan said some of the $4 billion from Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus plan that was budgeted to renovate public housing will be spent to create jobs by making the dwellings more energy efficient.

Solis, another task force member, said $500 million from the stimulus will be released in the form of grants to train workers for these jobs. That sum includes $50 million for communities battered by job losses and restructuring in the auto industry.

Donovan and Solis said their departments will work together to make it easier for public housing residents to find training programs or green jobs.

Investing in public housing will improve its quality, reduce energy costs for residents and the government and create jobs for people who live in the units and in surrounding communities, Donovan said. Some of the stimulus money also will be used for basic repairs and maintenance.

The energy, education and labor departments also announced a partnership to help link the unemployed with jobs, training and education opportunities.

Led by Biden, the task force has been working since January on policies to help America’s middle class, which has suffered in the recession.

It released a report in February saying green jobs pay up to 20 percent more than other jobs and can’t easily be transferred overseas. They’re more likely to be union jobs and are more likely to be held by men, less so by minorities and people who live in cities, according to the report.

Obama has pushed greening the economy ” reducing dependence on foreign energy sources, developing domestic alternatives and easing the effects of climate change ” as a way to help pull the economy out of its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

Biden echoed that theme Tuesday.

“How could we possibly lead in the 21st century without a fundamental change in our energy policy?” he asked.

“It necessitates the jobs that will get us there,” Biden said. “Green jobs are good jobs.”

Responding to a question from the audience, Biden insisted that U.S. automakers won’t be left behind.

“We have not given up on the auto industry,” he said. “They are in the process of a painful, painful, reorganization.”

Jared Bernstein, the task force executive director, said the panel’s agenda complements Obama’s.

“By boosting the green economy, you’re promoting green energy and clean production at the same time that you’re generating green jobs,” Bernstein, who is also Biden’s chief economist, said Monday in an interview.

Tuesday’s meeting was held at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, where Obama signed the stimulus plan into law three months ago.