Creating green jobs is the first order of business for the White House Task Force on Middle Class Families.  Led by Vice President Joe Biden, the Task Force held its inaugural meeting on Friday in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania.

“At a time when good jobs and good wages are harder and harder to come by – it is critical we find new and innovative work opportunities for middle class families,” said Biden. “That’s why we’re here today – to learn and listen about how investing in green jobs can help build a strong middle class.”

“Information from the President’s Council of Economic Advisers indicates green jobs pay 10 percent to 20 percent more than other jobs,” Biden said.  “Building a new power grid, manufacturing solar panels, weatherizing homes and offices and renovating schools “are just a few of the ways to create high-quality green jobs that strengthen the foundation of this country,” he added.

Biden said in a commentary published in the Philadelphia Inquirer that work such as weatherizing 400,000 row homes in Philadelphia would have a positive impact on jobs and the environment. “Biden’s Push for Green Jobs for The Middle Class”>Investing in green jobs also means keeping up with the modern economy,” he wrote. “At a time when good jobs at good wages are harder and harder to come by, we must find new, innovative opportunities.

“Building New Power Grid”>”Building a new power grid, manufacturing solar panels, weatherizing homes and office buildings, and renovating schools are just a few of the ways to create high-quality green jobs that strengthen the foundation of this country,” he wrote.

The $787 billion stimulus bill signed by President Obama on Feb. 17 provides $22.5 billion for green investments, including $5 billion to help people weatherize their homes and $500 million for a federal green-job-training program.

“Investing in green jobs also means keeping up with the modern economy. At a time when good jobs at good wages are harder and harder to come by, we must find new, innovative opportunities,” the vice president said.

Last month, President Barack Obama announced more than $20 billion for investment in a cleaner, greener economy, including $500 million for green job training.

In addition to running the Middle Class Task Force, Biden is also charged with heading the Recovery Act Implementation.

John Podesta, president and chief executive officer of  the Center for American Progress and served as President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, made the first presentation of the day.  He spoke to the task force about green jobs in general and how they could help the middle class.

“Our energy and climate challenges offer us an opportunity to invest in new infrastructure, new buildings, new business models and new skills for American workers. I call this the energy opportunity,” said Podesta.

He was followed by Fred Krupp, President of the Environmental Defense Fund, who demonstrated a new interactive map of key industries with the potential to create new jobs as a result of investment in clean energy, particularly in states hit hard by industrial losses.

“When I see less carbon, I also see more jobs,” he said.

Krupp also offered a new report, entitled  “Manufacturing Climate Solutions” prepared by the Duke University Center on Globalization, Governance and Competitiveness that identifies low-carbon technologies that can produce green jobs and help combat global warming.  shows the most promising technologies to be LED lighting, high-performance windows, recycling industrial waste energy such as exhaust heat and combustible gases to generate electricity, auxiliary power units for trucks, concentrating solar power, a new way of treating hog wastes by turning them into clean soil nutrients,  and heat pump water heaters.

Van Jones, president and founder of Green for All and author of the New York Times bestseller, “The Green Collar Economy,” who also participated in the meeting, told the task force that green jobs will offer an opportunity in the United States.

“The country is facing a challenge of historic proportions. It is a challenge to retrofit and repower a nation, something that has never been done. It is a technological challenge, it is a legislative challenge, it’s a business challenge. But it’s also a moral challenge,” he said.

“This green movement, this green wave, has a moral responsibility to be a green wave that lifts all boats. We are the first generation of Americans to build a green economy that Dr. Martin Luther] King, Jr. would be proud of, ” he said.  “There is a moral principle to green the ghetto first, to give young people the chance to put down that handgun and pick up a caulking gun.”

Leo Gerard, President of the United Steelworkers of America and founding member of both the Apollo Alliance and the Blue Green Alliance also made a presentation.   He made a commitment promising that the Blue Green Alliance  will is develop a Green Jobs scorecard to help evaluate the impact of projects paid for by the Recovery Bill.

Pat Eiding, president of Philadelphia’s AFL-CIO, applauded the new initiatives. “The labor movement talks about good green jobs providing workers a career and not just a job. Organized labor is a natural fit in this coalition because we share common goals: we both care about the environment and want to create training, development and career opportunities that provide good wages with benefits.”

Change to Win chair Anna Burger issued the following statement about the first meeting of the Middle Class Task Force :

“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed earlier this month includes a significant investment for projects both big and small that will rebuild our country and create the high-paying jobs of tomorrow. These jobs represent a clear path to a stronger middle class and a stronger American economy that will benefit everyone. Change to Win unions across the country welcome this opportunity to continue working with communities and employers to find green ways to do millions of jobs that strengthen the foundation of this country. Today is an important step forward for businesses, communities and workers to come together to create a greener and stronger America.”

Joining the discussion were political leaders from all over Pennsylvania, including  Gov. Rendell, Mayor Nutter, and  Sens. Arlen Specter and Bob Casey  and Reps. Chaka Fattah and Robert Brady.  Members of the Obama Administration’s cabinet,  other members of the task force and top White House staffers participated as well.  They included: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis,  U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Shaun Donovan,  Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Carol Browner, assistant to the president for energy and climate change and assistant to the president, and domestic policy advisor, Melody Barnes.

You can watch the panel discussions at the Middle Class Task Force Web Site or you can go there to read the live blog of the meeting.  The Vice President’s full remarks from the opening of the meeting are also now available. The Task Force has just made public its first staff report, “Green Jobs: A Pathway to a Strong Middle Class,” which you can read in full.

Related:

Listen to a  Ashley Milne-Tyte, a correcspondent on American Public Media Marketplace explain the correlation between therise in the green jobs sector and the future of the middle class and why green jobs are expected to grow fast in coming years.

© 2009, Tracey de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Tracey de Morsella (323 Articles)

Tracey de Morsella started her career working as an editor for US Technology Magazine. She used that experience to launch Delaware Valley Network, a publication for professionals in the Greater Philadelphia area. Years later, she used the contacts and resources she acquired to work in executive search specializing in technical and diversity recruitment. She has conducted recruitment training seminars for Wachovia Bank, the Department of Interior and the US Postal Service. During this time, she also created a diversity portal called The Multicultural Advantage and published the Diversity Recruitment Advertising Toolkit, a directory of recruiting resources for human resources professionals. Her career and recruitment articles have appeared in numerous publications and web portals including Woman Engineer Magazine, Monster.com, About.com Job Search Channel, Workplace Diversity Magazine, Society for Human Resource Management web site, NSBE Engineering Magazine, HR.com, and Human Resource Consultants Association Newsletter. Her work with technology professionals drew her to pursuing training and work in web development, which led to a stint at Merrill Lynch as an Intranet Manager. In March, she decided to combine her technical and career management expertise with her passion for the environment, and with her husband, launched The Green Economy Post, a blog providing green career information and covering the impact of the environment, sustainable building, cleantech and renewable energy on the US economy. Her sustainability articles have appeared on Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation, Chem.Info,FastCompany and CleanTechies.