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Washington House Passes Bill to Create Green Jobs

The Washington State House has voted to establish a comprehensive "green economy jobs growth initiative" that aims to increase the number of green jobs to 25,000 by 2020. "Green jobs" is the term used to describe the good-paying, sustainable jobs that are created through environmentally sensible projects. For example, increased energy efficiency requirements will require work retrofitting buildings all across America with solar panels, insulation and other weatherizing materials. The federal Green Jobs Act of 2007, which authorized $125 million per year to create green jobs worker training programs, was included in the recently enacted Energy Independence and Security Act.

The Washington bill, HB 2815, is yet another example of states taking the lead on fighting climate change, by requiring the state to limit greenhouse gas emissions to 50% below 1990 levels by 2050 with a provision to study the emissions reductions and make recommendations on whether they need to be updated. The bill also requires the state Department of Ecology to adopt broad statewide goals to reduce annual per capita vehicle miles traveled by 50% by 2050. As we highlighted in our recent Dispatch, vehicle miles traveled are the greatest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. 

Green Jobs, Good Jobs: In addition to the obvious environmental benefits, the Washington State approach to green jobs has the potential to reverse the draining of jobs out of our economy. The Apollo Alliance and Urban Habitat released a report that highlights the types of jobs that are created in energy efficiency and green buildings, renewable energy, and renewable fuels. In renewable energy, for example, solar power creates 22.4 jobs per megawatt of energy expended and wind power creates 6.4 jobs per megawatt. In contrast, natural gas power creates less than 1.1 job per megawatt. Plus, the jobs that are created are good-paying jobs that can offer the opportunity of union apprenticeships and long-term secure employment. As Becky Kelley of the Washington Environmental Council said, "There is tremendous opportunity for Washington businesses and Washington workers. There are good jobs to be had. There's economic development to be accomplished. That's a very hopeful message."

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