On President Obama’s second Earth Day in office, how far have green jobs come toward fixing unemployment and environmental ills? The administration aims for 5 million green jobs to grow in the next 10 years. Should Americans still believe the “hype?” Here’s the latest in green jobs news from around the Web:
The White House early in 2009 announced $500 million for efforts to train green workers, and this January it described job-training grants worth $100 million of that package. But that’s not nearly enough cash for an effort that should be as big as the Space Race, says pundit Jesse Jenkins. And contrary to conventional wisdom, green jobs are already being exported beyond U.S. borders.
For now, “fewer than 200 factories in the United States are devoted to green production, employing no more than 15,000 workers.” Companies can apply for new, federal tax credits to boost U.S. manufacturing, but an economist finds that “fewer than 500 applications have been filed so far for the tax breaks, and if all were approved they would add just 75,000 green manufacturing jobs.”
Yet, 10 percent of employers have added new, green jobs in the past year, according to a CareerBuilder poll of 2,700 hiring managers. Among the green occupations described as earning more than $60,000 on the job Web site are hydrologist, solar energy system designer, waste management engineer and urban planner. (However, CareerBuilder’s GoingGreenJobs site was kaput on Wednesday.)
The mayor of Joliet, Ill., joins leaders from coast to coast in selling his depressed locale as a green jobs hotspot for the future. There’s a new wind farm on the outskirts of town, and a dedicated crew at a junior college green jobs training program. But residents and experts of the former industrial center find interest stronger than green hiring, and hope the talk will prove more than a passing fad.
Twenty-five communities will get a slice of federal stimulus dollars to speed up efforts to retrofit buildings for energy efficiency. Vice President Joe Biden announced the “Retrofit Ramp-Up” initiative Wednesday. Meanwhile, the new “Cash for Caulkers” federal incentive to make homes more energy efficient is available in every state.
Two Midwestern senators introduced the GREEN Jobs Act of 2010 with the creative acronym: Grow Renewable Energy from Ethanol Naturally. They hope to continue expired tax credits for the makers of biofuel and ethanol, saving tens of thousands of jobs. However, the ecological benefits of such fuels remain controversial.
Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley insist that the state’s global warming law, AB 32, will churn out green jobs. But detractors miss that the law “will change many jobs and require retraining for workers. For example, when California switches to cleaner trucks, it won’t so much affect the number of trucking jobs, but it will certainly require new skills,” according to economist Carol Zabin.
IBM and Columbia University launched “Smarter Students for a Smarter Planet” this week to groom would-be engineers in green fields.
The new Ecotech Institute in Denver will offer certification and two-year degree options. Launched by the for-profit Education Corporation of America as the only green school of its kind, its associate degrees will cover fields such as electrical engineering technology, energy and environmental paralegal and sustainable interior design.
Van Jones, target of the wrath of Fox News pundit Glenn Beck, lasted only a matter of months as the green jobs “czar” of the White House. What’s he up to now?
Worms are getting paid? Oops, never mind.
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This post has been updated.