Green For All testifies before Congress: Ellis-Lamkins @ House Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing

Authors: ada Yesterday, Green For All CEO Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins testified before Congress, at a hearing on Raising Wages and Living Standards for Families and Workers. The hearing was held by House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, chaired by Representative David Obey. Here are some excerpts from Phaedra's testimony... On the definition of Green Jobs... [Green For All] articulated a simple but I think useful definition in a report that we issued last year - Green Collar Jobs in America's Cities - with our colleagues at the Apollo Alliance: green-collar jobs “are well paid career track jobs that contribute directly to preserving or enhancing environmental quality..." By this standard “… if a job improves the environment, but doesn’t provide a family-supporting wage or a career ladder to move low-income workers into higher-skilled occupations, it is not a green-collar job." On changing the tenets of our Economy... ...The promise of green jobs and a green economy – not to mention the liveable planet we must leave for our grandchildren – will be lost unless we change the rules of our economy. Right now, [our economy] relies on mistaken assumptions: that fossil fuel energy is abundant and cheap; that pollution is free; that fast and cheap is the same as quality and productivity. To change these tenets, we need specific policies to ensure that markets for industries that create green jobs are supported, that these jobs provide family sustaining wages and benefits, and that there are pathways to green economy careers for those Americans who most need them. Policy Recommendations... 1. Smart energy and climate policy has to be the foundation of an inclusive green economy. This country - and our planet - needs a bill that limits greenhouse gas emissions and advances aggressive climate solutions that are timely enough to avert the worst environmental and economic consequences of global warming. We need a bill that invests generated revenue to maximize the gain and minimize the pain for low-income people in the transition to a green economy. 2. Maximizing impact will require policies at a scale commensurate with the challenge we face. Green For All and our partners have developed a proposal for a Clean Energy Corps (CEC), which is an ambitious effort to integrate jobs, training, and service to combat global warming, grow local economies, and demonstrate the employment promise of a clean energy economy. In this era of widespread budget deficits, it makes sense to implement large-scale energy-saving measures on existing buildings – retrofits that can be financed by a revolving loan fund that will replenish itself with the energy savings achieved. 3. Job quality in the green economy won’t happen without smart public policies that ensure it. I’d like to recommend to the Committee a recent report written by our colleagues at Good Jobs First – High Road or Low Road: Job Quality in the New Green Economy. The report documents the divergence we’re seeing between employers in green sectors who treat workers with respect and fair compensation, and those that do not, which includes businesses offshoring production of clean energy products in to pay substandard wages. 4. The green economy won’t be built without a skilled workforce. I want to thank you Mr. Obey, your fantastic staff, and this entire committee for including $500 million for green job training in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. We will be working with our partners to ensure we receive the maximum impact for that investment. We commit to bringing back to this Subcommittee the stories we hear and lessons we learn from our training partnerships, and identifying those that provide the best models for connecting skilled workers to emerging green industries. I would also respectfully ask the Committee to look beyond the two years of funding provided by the Recovery Act and consider reserving funds in next year’s appropriations bill for the Green Jobs Act, authorized in the 2007 Energy bill and authored by Secretary of Labor Solis.

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