EPA Region 3
Topic: Green Jobs for the Future
Size: : 6055k
Date: August 8, 2011
Bonnie Lomax: In these tough economic times, there's been a lot of discussion, and sometimes confusion, about green jobs. EPA has a number of resources that support workforce development and green jobs.
Hello, I'm Bonnie Lomax of EPA's Mid-Atlantic Region and welcome to Environment Matters, our series of environmental podcasts. Our guests today are EPA Mid-Atlantic's Green Jobs Coordinator, Dave Byro, and John Mello of Baltimore's Civic Works. Welcome.
David Byro: Hi, Bonnie - Thanks for having me here.
Bonnie Lomax: So, Dave, how is EPA supporting the creation of new green jobs?
David Byro: Unlike the U.S. Department of Labor, EPA's core mission of protecting health and the environment does not include job creation. However, as former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson stated at the 2011 National Good Jobs Green Jobs Conference, “environmental protection and economic growth can –and do- go hand in hand.” In other words environmental protection, both within EPA and out, relies on a trained workforce. Greening the workforce demonstrates EPA's commitment to environmental stewardship and a sustainable economy.
Bonnie Lomax: So, how would you define a green job?
David Byro: Well, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, green jobs produce goods or services that benefit the environment. Also, these are jobs where worker's duties involve making their production processes more environmentally friendly. This definition was considered by many federal partners including the EPA and comes down to three critical elements:
- the first is improving the environment;
- then, conserving resources; and finally,
- making the production of goods more environmentally friendly.
Bonnie Lomax: How does EPA support greening the workforce?
David Byro: All of EPA's regulatory programs provide guidance documents that train practitioners to use the best environmental management practices. Some of our regulations, such as lead paint and asbestos rules, require workers to be certified in safe handling of these hazardous substances.
Bonnie Lomax: Has EPA provided any funding to support a green workforce?
David Byro: Yes! Recently EPA's Brownfields program awarded more than $6.2 million in national environmental workforce development and job training grants to 21 grantees to recruit, train, and place unemployed residents who live in contaminated areas. These job training grants are not just helping to create good safe jobs for the workers - - they are helping to create green jobs that protect the health of local families and residents and prepare communities for continued economic growth.
Bonnie Lomax: That sounds like a win-win situation for both workers and the environment.
David Byro: Exactly! Since 1998, EPA has awarded more than $35 million in Brownfields job training grants. With that funding, more than 6,600 people have been trained and more than 4,400 have full time jobs in the environmental field. These training grants help communities build a green workforce and create sustainable jobs. They also help provide unemployed people with the necessary skills to secure full time, sustainable jobs that help to clean up toxic chemicals in our communities, advance clean energy projects and support environmental initiatives.
Bonnie Lomax: One city that has benefitted from EPA's Brownfields job training grants is Baltimore. We asked John Mello, Green Projects Director for Civic Works, about that city's experience.
John Mello: Civic Works is a non-profit in Baltimore City that has the broad mission of transforming Baltimore in a positive way by providing skills development. And one of the ways we've done that is through green jobs training and placement. We started our work in green jobs training about a decade ago as a direct result of EPA's Brownfields job grants funds. What we've learned since then is that regardless of how you talk about these jobs—jobs that contribute to environmental sustainability and pay a living wage—have the power to transform people and to transform communities. We've seen that here in Baltimore. So for us, our trainees and our graduates, that's what the EPA job training initiative is really all about.
Bonnie Lomax: That's very impressive, John. Thank you. Dave, do you have any other examples?
David Byro: One is EPA's Small Business Innovation Research Program. It funds small business environmental technology research. Successful entrepreneurs can create new green jobs in further research, manufacturing and environmental services. We also work with other federal agencies, industry, and non-profits. One example is our partnership with the Department of Labor to green the curriculum at their vocational Job Corps centers. Another is with the wastewater and drinking water industry. EPA is working with national water associations to train the next generation of plant operators needed to replace a workforce that is retiring at a high rate. Finally, EPA supports the National Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference. This conference is put on by the nonprofit group, Blue Green Alliance. It brings together diverse groups of stakeholders including environment, labor, industry, business, and government to network and discuss solutions for a green economy that creates good jobs. Philadelphia will host the Eastern Good Jobs, Green Jobs Regional Conference on April 3 & 4 in the year 2012. For more on the conference, go to http://www.greenjobsconference.org/.
Bonnie Lomax: Thank you, Dave, for being our guest today and for providing insight on this very important topic. And to our listeners, thank you. For more information on green jobs, please visit http://www.epa.gov and type green jobs in the search box.