Training, private sector buy-in needed for green jobs… EPA’s Jackson speaks in city

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Lisa Jackson is moving to transform the U.S. economy to one based on renewable, or sustainable energy to fight the threat of global warming. As director of the Environmental Protection Agency she has considerable power to do so.

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GOING GREEN—EPA Director Lisa Jackson poses with a shirt following an Earth Day presentation on protecting the environment.

Creating green jobs in the energy sector, replacing conventional coal- and oil-based technology with wind and solar power has been touted as a new opportunity for African-Americans because, unlike coal mines and oil wells, factories to manufacture components can be placed anywhere.

Asked how the Black community could benefit from the move to green technology, Jackson said during an Earth Day visit to Pittsburgh, new training programs would be needed. “It’s going to require training and an understanding of what ‘green’ is. The president has already allocated funds for weatherization training to increase energy efficiency,” she said. “He is committed to clean energy. And a job maintaining wind turbines is as good as any.”

As for creating jobs, most of the turbine manufacturers are European and Chinese. In March, senators Charles Schumer, D-NY, and Bob Casey, D-Pa, asked President Obama to suspend stimulus funding on wind projects because 79 percent of the money was going to foreign companies.

Jackson said U.S. companies have to step up. “To really get this going, to make this cost effective, we need to get the private sector involved,” she said.

In 2007 the Supreme Court ruled the EPA could regulate CO2 if it determined it was a dangerous pollutant. Last year, it did so.

Fifteen states are now challenging the scientific basis for the Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that carbon dioxide is a “dangerous pollutant,” but Jackson remains determined to regulate reductions in CO2 to 3 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

“Naturally I don’t agree with the premise that the NASA data is faulty. There was much made of concerns about the data, the models agree on impacts to the climate,” she said. “To cast aspersions on the models is to ignore that they are pretty good, and that the climate is changing.”

The first example from the agency exercising this authority came last month when new standards for auto emissions also included CO2 for the first time. Emission caps are to follow for all industries, with the initial concentration being on the energy sector.

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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