Speakers Tout Plan to Stimulate Green Economy

By Toni Vranjes

March 30, 2012

In 2010, Minnesota politician Tarryl Clark lost her bid to unseat Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. However, she gained important insights from the experience.

“After that election cycle, more than ever, I really believed it was critically important that we’re finding ways to be bringing people together,” she said.

Clark is hoping to do just that in her role at the BlueGreen Alliance. In 2011, the former Minnesota state senator joined the group to lead its Jobs21 campaign, aimed at spurring employment in “green” areas of the economy.

Earlier this month, Clark and other leaders gathered in Southern California to discuss their vision for Jobs21. They discussed the plan at the Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference, which was presented by the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation.

Jobs21 aims to protect existing jobs and create new ones, while also protecting the environment and making the nation more competitive.

The plan focuses on a wide range of industries:

  • Renewable Energy. One proposal is creating a “green bank” to fund wind, solar and other projects.
  • Energy Efficiency. The campaign supports efforts to upgrade homes, schools, hospitals, and other buildings to make them more energy efficient.
  • Manufacturing. The plan includes loan programs, extension of a key tax credit, and other steps to support green manufacturers.
  • Transportation. The plan calls for greater investment in highways, railways, mass transit, and other types of infrastructure. The campaign also is emphasizing the need for cleaner vehicles.
  • Recycling. The plan calls for establishing a national recycling rate of 75 percent by 2030.
  • Green Chemistry. The campaign is urging leaders to strengthen laws governing toxic substances.
  • Broadband Internet. The plan includes expanded access to high-speed Internet services.
  • “Smart Grid” Technology. The campaign is calling for greater investment in this technology, which is designed to improve the electric-power transmission system.

Chris Busch, policy director at the BlueGreen Alliance, said that the plan has many potential benefits. A key goal is to increase opportunities for the jobless and underemployed.

Other potential benefits include cleaner air and water, healthier communities, reduced dependence on imported oil, greater national security, and greater technological innovation.

One major priority is rebuilding and modernizing infrastructure. That includes upgrading the transportation system, which could create millions of jobs, according to Busch.

During the workshop, Clark noted that even issues like public transportation have become polarizing. But she hopes that Americans can find common ground.

“We really need to be moving people together,” she said.

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