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Jobs That Help Ohio - and the Rest of the Planet

This summer I traveled to Cleveland to talk with community leaders about clean energy. With its shuttered auto-parts factories, Ohio shows signs of its rust belt past. But the state is beginning to channel its traditional strengths -- an existing manufacturing base and a well-trained workforce -- into the burgeoning economic opportunities of green energy.

The wind industry, for instance, grew 40 percent annually from 2005 until 2008. After a slowdown in financing, the renewable energy incentives in President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package could make 2010 the strongest year yet. That is excellent news for the 90 Ohio companies that manufacture bearings, generators, and fasteners for wind turbines.

But it's not just Ohio. As I write this, the Senate is considering a groundbreaking bill that would dramatically expand the market for green technologies nationwide. The House passed a similar bill in June. Still, we have a tough fight ahead in the Senate. The key to victory is showing our senators that confronting global warming goes hand in hand with economic growth and job creation. In this respect, Ohio is an excellent bellwether. With the state's conventional industries shedding jobs, new, green opportunities offer a lifeline to struggling workers. The Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst has estimated that Ohio could produce 67,000 green jobs (nationwide that figure could reach 1.7 million), from weatherizing homes to installing solar panels.

That's why NRDC and other environmental groups have joined forces with several unions -- including the United Steelworkers, the Service Employees International Union, and the American Federation of Teachers -- to form the Blue Green Alliance, which is working to pass a strong climate bill in the Senate. Clean-tech entrepreneurs, whether they run solar companies in Ohio or venture capital firms in Silicon Valley, also view clean energy legislation as a powerful economic engine. Leveraging this broad spectrum of allies, NRDC has gone to Capitol Hill with Fortune 500 CEOs and labor leaders to urge lawmakers to pass this bill.

Scientists at MIT recently concluded that temperatures are likely to rise faster than previously thought -- 9 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century instead of 4 degrees. There is no time to waste. The bill before the Senate will get America moving toward job creation, sustainable prosperity, and climate solutions. Tell your senators to pass it now.

image of Frances Beinecke
Frances Beinecke is the president of NRDC and has worked with the organization for more than 30 years. Prior to becoming the president in 2006, Frances was the executive director for eight years, during which time NRDC's membership doubled and the st... READ MORE >

This is a good start. I'm most concerned with Southern Appalachia, where coal is the only economic engine driving the workforce. But it is so destructive that it is entirely unsustainable. Developing green jobs there is vital to not only the local economies but to the larger economy as well.

We need to develop economies that take into account local sustainability initiatives as well as being eco-sensitive. In my mind, this is the only viable alternative for the future.

I am so glad that someone is finally blogging about something important. I am a soon to be graduate, and I want to find a well paying job where I can help the planet and animals. Can you give me any ideas? Shoresdestiny@yahoo.com