WASHINGTON—Hundreds lobbied Capitol Hill Thursday to encourage congressmen to join them in support of environmentally sustainable jobs. A lobbying day on the Hill concluded the three-day Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference May 4 to 6 in Washington D.C.; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi headlined the conference.
“In Congress, we have stood strong in the drive for good, green jobs. We’ve said all along that clean energy is about four things: jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs,” said Pelosi at the conference Tuesday morning, according to a transcript of her remarks released by her office. Pelosi recognized the alliance’s belief that sustainability will be the foundation of long-term prosperity. She highlighted ways Congress helped create green and clean energy jobs through the Recovery Act.
Hosted by a partnership of labor unions and environmental groups called the BlueGreen Alliance, the conference was a showcase of ideas and success stories as well as an opportunity to connect different businesses and environmental fields. The alliance was founded in 2006 by the Sierra Club and the United Steelworkers and has grown to include several other labor unions and environmental protection groups.
Speakers at the conference included union leaders, heads of environmental groups, mayors, congressmen, senators, governors, and U.S. Department Secretaries Hilda Solis of Labor, and Steven Chu of Energy.
Energy Secretary Chu said that in recent years the United States has fallen behind other countries. Speaking Wednesday at the conference, he said the United States used to lead in battery and photovoltaic cell production, in the car industry, and in nuclear reactors but now China is leading the world in high-tech manufacturing. Chu said he doesn’t believe the United States can survive on a service industry economy alone, “like financial services,” he said, taking a jab at the industry blamed for the recession.
We need to get back on the “path of manufacturing,” he said, then as a nation we can be “making and inventing the stuff the rest of the world will need” as other nations also move toward sustainable, energy efficient technologies. He said building these industries needs government support, committed government support to get manufacturing of sustainable technologies and complementary supply and installation industries on their feet.
Support may not take too long in coming. Speaker Pelosi said that this week the House will vote on HomeStar, a bill written to help homeowners make energy efficient upgrades to their homes. “HomeStar will rapidly create jobs in both construction and manufacturing, sectors that have seen high levels of unemployment,” said Pelosi Tuesday at the conference.
Concluding one of the sessions Wednesday afternoon, International President of the United Steelworkers and BlueGreen Alliance co-chairman Leo Gerard, said of employment and the environment, “Either we’ll have both, or we’ll have neither.”