President-elect Barack Obama and his "transition team" have appointed a number of people to key positions in the past few days. Here's a run down of some of the recent appointments, and how they could relate to creating green-collar jobs in 2009 and beyond.
The Appointment: Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor
The Position: The Secretary of Labor heads the Department of Labor, which administers unemployment insurance, employment and workforce training programs. Given that training is an essential component to building a green-collar workforce and pathways out of poverty, the Secretary of Labor is a key place to have a green-jobs ally and advocate.
The Department of Labor would also be central to administering the workforce training components of the Clean Energy Corps.
Solis's history: Solis, a Democratic Congresswoman from California, has been an ardent champion of green jobs. She worked closely with Green For All to write and sponsor the Green Jobs Act of 2007. (See the video below, where she calls for full funding of the Act). [Green For All is continuing the fight to fully fund the Green Jobs Act. Learn more and write to your members of Congress, to call for a green economic stimulus package].
Our Comment: Van Jones, President and Founder of Green For All, just wrote a post on Solis in The Huffington Post. Here is an excerpt:
"We're thrilled that Hilda Solis shares the green jobs vision. In fact, she's already helped make it real. Rep. Solis was the original author of the Green Jobs Act, and our Green For All team worked closely with her in 2007. During that year's Congressional session, she worked with colleagues on both sides of the aisle and was instrumental in getting that hallmark legislation passed. Her work demonstrated her commitment to a socially responsible, clean-energy economy that will create millions of good-paying jobs and save our environment. She is the right secretary of labor to take advantage of a great opportunity not only to make America's economy stronger by making it greener, but also to make Americans living in poverty part of a revitalized middle class."
The Appointment: Carol Browner, Energy Coordination (aka "Energy Czar")
The Position: The Energy Czar will be responsible for coordinating energy and climate policy across government departments, such as the Department of Transportation, Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Commerce, and Department of Energy. The Energy Czar will also head the National Energy Council, a new body.
Browner's History: Browner was the head of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Clinton.
President-elect Obama said: "Carol understands that our efforts to create jobs, achieve energy security and combat climate change demand integration among different agencies, cooperation between federal, state and local governments and partnership with the private sector."
“Carol Browner has long championed market-based approaches to address the climate crisis, which aligns with Green For All’s philosophy. Through the work of Ms. Browner – and the rest of the Obama Administration’s environmental team – Green For All is hopeful that we can build an inclusive green economy that saves our environment and rescues us from the current financial crisis."
- Van Jones
Other Key appointments:
Dr. Steven Chu, a Nobel laureate who understands the urgency of climate change, has been appointed Secretary of Energy. Lisa Jackson will head the Environmental Protection Agency, and Nancy Sutley will head the Council on Environmental Quality.
In a recent press statement, Van Jones said:
“We commend President-elect Obama’s naming of Carol Browner, Dr. Steven Chu, Lisa Jackson and Nancy Sutley as the core of the Administration’s environmental and energy team. We congratulate the appointees on their well-deserved nominations...
We look forward to working with the incoming environmental team to put millions back to work retrofitting, re-powering and reinvigorating America.”
What else is going on in Washington these days?
The current Congress is working furiously to craft an economic stimulus bill for Obama to sign as soon as he is sworn in on January 20th. We'll be watching for an initial version of the stimulus to come out on January 6th.
Green For All and many other national organizations have been calling for a stimulus that is "green and equitable". Our leaders in Washington are going to inject BILLIONS of dollars into the economy, and they should not prop up our pollution-based economy, but fuel the growth of a new, green economy. The investments Congress is about to make ought to help ordinary people, and be good for the planet, too. This is an opportunity not only to save struggling businesses, but to change the way we do business by supporting people and the planet FIRST.
We sent a memo to Obama's transition team last week, calling for them to uphold these green and equitable principles in the stimulus. We also issued an action alert, calling on people to write their members of congress in support of these principles and full funding of the Green Jobs Act as part of the stimulus package. Please take action, and share with your friends.
Finally, here's that video of Hilda Solis urging Congress to fully fund the Green Jobs Act in July. She brought a big poster of our friends at RichmondBUILD/Solar Richmond /GRID Alternatives to illustrate her point.