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First 100 Days: Green power energy initiatives may light up the L.A. job market

Los Angeles Wave

Growing energy needs across the Southland are shaping the region’s future, and President Obama’s agenda is providing opportunities in several arenas.

Few elements of Barack Obama’s energy agenda have seized headlines during the first 100 days of his presidency. And yet while the finer points of weatherization and fuel cell technology may not be as captivating as outsized A.I.G. bonuses or showdowns with Somali pirates, team Obama has spent the past three months crafting and launching a series of initiatives with the intent of keeping the nation lighted, cooled, heated and moving during the years to come.


Not surprisingly, many of these plans have profound implications for energy-hungry Los Angeles. This was evident less than a week after Obama took the oath of office. On Jan. 26, in one of the first of several reversals of policies of the (second) Bush administration, Obama signed an executive order instructing the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider California’s application to establish carbon-emission standards that are stricter than those set by the federal government. Historically, the Golden State has often been at the forefront of progressive energy policy, and so it is in this case. Thirteen other states have indicated they may see similar approval if California’s proposal is approved.

But Los Angeles is not only on the receiving end of influence when it comes to Obama’s energy agenda. Officials with ties to the City of Angels have the ear of key administration players, including Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Nancy Sutley, who served as deputy mayor of Los Angeles for energy and environment, was selected in December as the head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Cecilia Estolano, CEO of the L.A. Community Redevelopment Authority, participated in the panel discussion “Creating Green Opportunity: The Roles of Stakeholders,” held in Philadelphia on March 9 and moderated by Biden himself. “What we know [is that] green jobs are not necessarily middle class jobs,” Estolano said, making a connection — between energy and the environment and jobs — that has become a familiar refrain of late. “We in Los Angeles have recognized this for a number of years and we realize we need to leverage every one of our roles in government to drive that goal of turning green-collar jobs into middle class jobs.” (She initiated a brief round of good-natured trash talking among herself, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Portland, Ore., business executive Mark Edlen over whose region is the most green. Biden intervened just as the joshing threatened to turn hostile.)

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