State Spotlight: New York lawyers advocate for Green Jobs

Authors: Giselle Vigneron

Giselle Vigneron is a founding member of Lawyers For Green Jobs. 


On April 22, 2009, my team and, I called Lawyers For Green Jobs, publicly released a green jobs training & education legislative proposal for the State of New York. For the past twelve months, we worked pro bono to develop legislation providing a comprehensive statewide framework to prepare New York’s workforce for green jobs in the emerging green economy. Our primary goal is to urge the New York Legislature to pass an inclusive green jobs bill in New York State.

Our group is made up of six passionate environmental attorneys who formed Lawyers For Green Jobs (L4GJ) in 2008. We met while attending an environmental law seminar within the New York City Environmental Law Leadership Institute (NYCELLI). Over the course of the class, we had numerous discussions about New York’s environmental problems and we came together with the conviction that the environment should no longer be framed in opposition to the economy and job creation. For environmental protection to truly work, it needs to benefit people’s daily lives in concrete ways, most importantly by providing them well-paid, family supporting green jobs.

Inspired by green jobs legislation in other states and the amazing work of organizations like Green For All and The Apollo Alliance, L4GJ set out to draft a green jobs bill for New York State. As our research progressed, we were particularly impressed with the models of successful green jobs training programs developed by Sustainable South Bronx and Solar Richmond in California. It was remarkable to see how these programs could transform and improve the lives of low-income and underserved people who are usually the most affected by environmental degradation and pollution. 

Through new careers in green sectors like solar, energy efficiency and green building, people could start turning their lives around and positively impact their entire community and environment. That is why one of the key components of our bill is to provide training and education opportunities for vulnerable communities, including low-income adults and youth, the unemployed, minorities, at-risk youth, veterans, and formerly incarcerated non-violent offenders.

After months of research and writing, as well as reaching out to numerous organizations for feedback, L4GJ released its proposal on Earth Day through CSRwire, the leading global source of corporate social responsibility news. This press release was made possible thanks to a partnership L4GJ formed with LUCITA, a hybrid design and communication company founded upon the principles of sustainability and environmental and social responsibility.

Recently, we were honored to receive encouragement from the New York State Apollo Alliance.

“Green jobs are critical to a revitalized New York State economy,” said Jeff Jones, Director of New York State Apollo Alliance.

“For stimulus investments in clean energy to work, New York needs a trained green workforce. This plan, proposed by Lawyers for Green Jobs, helps bring us closer than ever to New York’s clean energy future, while protecting the environment and opening new career paths to tens of thousands of New Yorkers.”

In addition, L4GJ picked up an endorsement from a New York State legislator who decided to sponsor our bill. If you’re interested to learn more about the proposed bill, log onto L4GJ’s website at www.lawyersforgreenjobs.org. You can also express support for statewide green jobs legislation by sending us an email at lawyersforgreenjobs@gmail.com. New Yorkers, please call your state representatives to demand statewide green jobs legislation.

L4GJ is run on a completely pro bono basis and is not affiliated with any legal, political or business interests. Learn more about Lawyers for Green Jobs at www.lawyersforgreenjobs.org.

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