GUEST COMMENTARY: Missouri workers need green jobs now

Tuesday, July 21, 2009 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:04 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 4, 2010

There's a common theme coming from some of Missouri's Congressional delegation regarding the subject of clean energy and green jobs.

We've been hearing a lot of "not so fast" and "no, we can't" with a lot of mumbling about costs and endangering current jobs. Senator Kit Bond even went so far as to issue a report called "Yellow Light on Green Jobs." His sound bite on the issue: "It sounds really neat to think we're going to have wind-powered jobs, except I don't see cars going down the road with propellers on them."

For members of United Auto Workers Local 2379 in Jefferson City, green jobs are a reality. We quite literally have wind-powered jobs, building the transformers for a new wind farm in northwest Missouri. According to the Department of Energy, this single wind project in DeKalb County will not only create 150 megawatts of pollution-free energy; it will create more than 2,500 jobs here and around the country.

That means a lot to a group of workers that have watched their business decline and co-workers hit the unemployment line. As members of the UAW, my brothers and sisters and I know that we are not just in danger of losing jobs; we are losing jobs. Right now, only about one out of every four clean energy companies is based in the U.S. Germany's second largest export, after cars, is wind turbines, and they also deploy nearly half of the world's solar panels.

Even though the U.S. wind industry is booming — including in Missouri — more than 70 percent of the turbines popping up across the country were actually built overseas. Instead of importing green technologies manufactured abroad, it's time for the U.S. to lead in the development of them, which will power the world for decades to come.

Missouri's skilled workforce can play a key role in developing these new industries and deploying new technologies. The only thing standing in our way is a handful of out-of-touch politicians in Washington, who seem to have lost faith in American ingenuity.

It doesn't have to be that way. According to a recent study by the Center for American Progress and the Political Economy Research Institute, a responsible, comprehensive approach to clean energy would create 43,000 new jobs in Missouri. These jobs would include everything from mechanics needed to retrofit public buses to be more fuel efficient, to electricians and roofers to install solar panels. We'll need line workers to manufacture the components for wind turbines, truck drivers to deliver the pieces and steel and sheet metal workers to put them together. Replacing our inefficient and aging electrical grid will take engineers and laborers. Making homes and businesses energy efficient will require trades from carpenters to insulation installers and HVAC technicians.

The politicians that oppose green jobs are telling us that we can't afford to make the investment. We need to let them know that we can't afford not to. There is no reason the workers, who built the strongest economy of the 20th century, should be left behind in the 21st.

Fisher of Argyle is head trustee and past-president of UAW Local 2379.

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Jimmy Bearfield July 21, 2009 | 12:25 p.m.
(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 21, 2009 | 1:10 p.m.

So it would appear this letter is a thinly-veiled call for government subsidies of green energy? Why should government support renewable energy over other forms of energy? In fact, why should government offer support for any sort of energy, ehether that be renewable, nuclear, ethanol, etc.? An imbalanced playing field lets the government pick and choose favorites and extract donations from the various energy producers.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield July 21, 2009 | 2:28 p.m.

If enough people have green jobs, then it becomes tough later on to argue for ending subsidies for those industries and companies because doing so would mean a lot of people out of work, like the automobile industry.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 24, 2009 | 7:39 p.m.

("Here is video of Glenn Beck today taking a detailed look at President Obama's "Green Job Czar," a man named Van Jones. Jones is a radical from way back, and Beck reveals that reality.

Jones showed up at Yale "wearing combat boots and carrying a 'Black Panther' book bag. Jones was arrested during the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles and in jail became enamored with people who were "really radical" as he described them. He later said of himself after his release, "By August, I was a communist." He then spent the next 10 years as a full-fledged radical, founding a group that revered people like Chairman Mao of China.

Jones has since renounced his radical past, and has turned his focus on "green jobs." He is quoted as saying at the end of the piece that Barack Obama is "going to save the whole wide world."

This guy is a total crackpot, radical, and should not be anywhere near serving in a Presidentially appointed position. But this appointment by Obama is consistent with his whole history of association with radicals like Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers. It is a disgrace, and the truth of who he is should be exposed to all Americans.")
source and more:

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