Environmentalists, unions call for green-jobs plan

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A new report by an unusual coalition of environmental and labor groups seeks to plant a seed for a national, $100 billion public and private investment in an environmentally friendly, low-carbon economy that would grow 2 million new jobs over two years.

The report, released today by the Green Jobs for America Campaign, says a combination of tax credits, loan guarantees to small businesses and direct public investment spending could jump-start a clean energy transition that would produce good jobs in civil, environmental, electrical and chemical engineering fields, steel and metal working, heating and air conditioning, the construction trades, and contracting.

In Pennsylvania, the report projects a $4 billion investment that could produce more than 85,000 jobs and reduce unemployment to 4 percent. In July, the state unemployment rate rose to 5.1 percent.

"That potential growth for good, family-supporting jobs when the economy is down and we see our manufacturing jobs leaving the country makes it imperative that we take a long, serious look at green investment and green energy solutions for our future and for future generations," said Tony Montana, a spokesman for the United Steelworkers Union, part of the Green Jobs for America Campaign and one of the groups releasing the report.

Other groups participating in the jobs campaign include the Blue Green Alliance, the Sierra Club, the natural Resources Defense Council, Green for All and Working America.

The proposal, which the coalition hopes will be considered next year by a new Congress and new administration, is less than the $168 billion economic stimulus package approved by the Bush administration and Congress in April.

The report by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the Center for American Progress examines the economic benefits of accelerated investment in clean energy and environmentally sustainable technologies. It details a "green economic recovery program" that invests in retrofitting buildings, expanding mass transit and freight rail lines, and expanding production of wind power, solar power and advanced biofuels.

The report says that thousands of Pennsylvanians already have the skills necessary to work in clean energy and building-retrofitting jobs.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


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