Growing excitement around green jobs

We will be hearing many stories like this one over the next several years.

When Rita Bryer sees 300-foot-tall wind turbines sprouting up from the prairie near her home in western Oklahoma, she can’t help but wonder about the view from the top, where blades the size of semi-trucks spin.

“Out here, you can see the wind turbines from 10 miles away,” she said. “Think about how far you’ll be able to see when you’re at the top.”

So, partly out of curiosity, partly because she wants to be part of something new, the 51-year-old is leaving behind a career of odd jobs and oil-field work.

She’s going back to school to become a wind turbine mechanic — one who’ll have to scale the turbines to make repairs.

Across the country, people like Bryer are looking to the renewable energy sector in hopes its “green-collar jobs” will offer them stability in this shaky economy. Some are signing up for community college or apprenticeship programs that train students to be wind turbine mechanics, solar panel installers, fuel-cell engineers or energy efficiency experts. Video Watch how the green economy is growing in Pennsylvania ยป

Government support has rallied excitement for the prospect of a green jobs corps, as President Obama’s stimulus package puts about $20 billion into greening the economy, according to the White House.

n his recent speech to Congress, Obama said the U.S. will double its supply of renewable energy in three years. To do so, he’s calling on a new class of workers to be trained in environmental fields. Green jobs training programs will get $500 million from the stimulus.

The transformation of our energy industry to greener technologies will be critical for our economic recovery along with our national security. The idea is simple – having mechanics and technicians maintaining windmills and installing solar panels here in the United States is better for our economy than having workers working on Saudi oil rigs. The energy is cleaner, more Americans are employed, and American wealth isn’t shipped overseas.

It’s stunning to me that Republicans are ceding these arguments to Democrats.

  

Good riddance

George W. Bush’s farewell tour has been just as pathetic as his actual presidency. In several days, we’ll finally be able to turn the page on one of the worst presidencies in American history.

As I’ve said repeatedly for the past 6 years, Bush’s failures have little to do with ideology and instead can be traced to his utter lack of competence. He screwed up practically everything he touched.

The Republican Party helped him along. Most Republicans are so consumed with partisan bitterness that George W. Bush still gets an approval rating in the 70 percent range with Republicans. Republicans also went along with massive spending and deficits and an ill-conceived war that has crippled our nation.

I’m very optimistic about Barack Obama’s ability to chart a new path for our country that will return us to peace and prosperity. Many Americans share this optimism according to the polls. Obama’s leadership skills have been on display throughout the transition, and thus far he’s been impressive.

I expect Obama and his team to hit the ground running on Wednesday. They face huge challenges, and yet they will not shrink from doing big things like health care reform and transitioning to a green economy.

  

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