Oakland’s “green collar” job inspires federal bill

The House Education and Labor Committee in the past hour passed legislation inspired, in part, by Oakland’s recently approved “Green Jobs Corps,” a program that trains workers in alternative fuels fields such as wind energy.

“The Oakland program brought to our attention that we need to provide incentives that focus on training people in these cutting-edge fields,” said committee chairman and Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, reached after the vote by telephone. “If you look at the money that venture capitalists are putting into these green companies, it’s very clear there will be a wave of opportunity for workers. The question is whether we’ll have the skills to do the jobs.”

The Green Jobs Act of 2007 (HR 2847) provides up to $125 million as a down payment on the formation of a national and state “green collar” job training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. Potential fields include the construction of energy efficient building, renewable electric power, energy efficient vehicles and biofuels development.

“California will absolutely be a hot spot for these training programs,” Miller said. “We’ve always been on the cutting edge of technology.”

The Green Jobs Act will become part of a larger energy package comprised of actions from other committees that Democrats will consider on the floor of the House after the July 4 break, Miller said.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen