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‘Green Jobs’ Could be Newest WA Growth Industry

October 30, 2007

Seattle, WA – A new study says almost 800 companies in Washington could get enough work manufacturing renewable energy systems to create a total of more than 8,500 new jobs in the state. However, boosting their business will take the cooperation of Congress, in passing the "Renewable Energy Standard."

Carl Pope, national president of The Sierra Club, says Washington already has the technology and raw materials to be a leader in this type of manufacturing, but it will take a federal mandate to spur industry into action.

"Because there's not a reliable market for renewable electricity, we haven't built the industries that manufacture it. We're actually importing wind turbines into Washington from other countries, because we don't have enough wind turbine manufacturing capacity."

Nationally, the Sierra Club has joined forces with labor groups to advocate for a combination of environmental stewardship and living wage jobs. Terry Bonds, director of the United Steelworkers union for the Western U.S. says a more progressive energy policy is needed to reverse economic, as well as environmental, damage.

"When we shut down a manufacturing facility in the U.S. and ship it to some Third World country where there are no environmental protections, we harm the environment and we also lose jobs."

Bonds says there's solid bipartisan support for the Renewable Energy Standard, but not all members of Congress support the legislation. The Standard would require 15 percent of energy to come from renewable sources by the year 2020.

Chris Thomas/John Robinson, Public News Service - WA