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Blue + Green = More Clean Jobs?

March 14, 2008

Pittsburgh, PA – Economic growth and good, clean jobs -- those are the goals of a nationwide conference underway today in Pittsburgh. It's sponsored by the Blue-Green Alliance, a coalition of labor and environmental groups. A number of Minnesotans are among the hundreds of people taking part, and spokesman David Foster, Alliance executive director and a former United Steelworkers Union Minnesota director, says the clean-energy industry can revitalize the national economy.

"We've come to understand that good jobs and a clean environment are not in contradiction to each other. And, in fact, you can't have good jobs that last unless you also have a clean environment. It's not one or the other-–it's both or neither."

Foster says there's a pot of gold in "green collar" jobs: Today's environmental challenges can drive economic development and create profitable businesses.

"It means manufacturing jobs. Building renewable energy equipment. It means construction jobs, putting that renewable energy up. In Minnesota, for example, we have Mortenson Construction Co. On any given day, they have 1,000 building tradesmen across the country putting up wind turbines. It also means jobs in maintenance and rehabbing buildings as we learn to make them more energy-efficient."

He says that if we make a commitment to advance green industries and adopt energy-efficient technologies, we can boost the economy, spur innovation and put people in good-paying jobs, as well as protect the economy and public health.

Foster says the national "Green Jobs" conference is a way to get groups that haven't worked together in the past to come up with winning solutions to global warming and a sinking economy.

"It's a discussion about growth and the green economy, about the potential for creating millions of new jobs at a time when the country is headed into recession and really needs strategies on how to grow our economy. Investments in our environmental challenges are the best economic development tools we have in the 21st century."

Today's featured speaker at the conference is Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

More information is available at www.greenjobsconference.org.

Jim Wishner/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - MN