Hooray! This week Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis (CA-32) officially became the most important environmental heroine you’ve never heard of.

Solis, a Latina Congresswoman from Los Angeles, introduced the Green Jobs Act of 2007 (H.R. 2847). The Act represents a smart, far-sighted effort to fight pollution and poverty at the same time by creating federally-funded job training within the green economy.

Guess what? On Wednesday, the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee passed her bill by a bipartisan vote of 26 to 18. This is the first step in the House toward providing job training every year for about 35,000 U.S. workers (and would-be workers) in green and clean industries.

The Act would help to meet green industry’s demand for a skilled "green-collar" workforce in areas like solar panel installation, building weatherization, wind farm construction, etc. And it will help create green pathways out of poverty for those seeking job opportunities in the booming green economy.

Similar legislation was offered as an amendment to H.R. 6 by Sens. Sanders and Clinton and passed by voice vote this month.

For decades, Congress has been bogged down in a stale debate: "Should we grow the economy or protect the environment?"

Solis is leading the Congress to embrace a new approach. She is saying: "Let’s grow the economy by protecting the environment."

For more information about the Green Jobs Act, you can contact Megan J. Uzzell. She is Congresswoman Solis’ awesome Legislative Director (megan.uzzell[at]mail.house.gov).

And to learn more about Congresswoman Solis’s work, please visit her webpage or view clips of Congresswoman Solis at work.

We at the Ella Baker Center — as well as the National Apollo Alliance, Center for American Progress, the Workforce Alliance, and many other organizations — are proud to support Congresswoman Solis, Congressman John Tierney (D-MA), Congressman George Miller (D-CA), and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as they lead this important effort.

Here is the press release George Miller’s office put out yesterday:

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EDUCATION & LABOR COMMITTEE

Congressman George Miller, Chairman

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Press Office, 202-226-0853

House Labor Committee Passes Legislation to Prepare Workers for ‘Green Collar’ Jobs to Fight Global Warming

Democrats Defeat Republican Amendment on Wasteful Coal-to-Liquid Process

WASHINGTON, D.C. — By a vote of 26 to 18, the House Education and Labor Committee passed legislation today to help train American workers for jobs in the renewable energy and energy-efficiency industries — industries that are key to U.S. and world efforts to combat global warming.

“By helping to create good-paying jobs in industries that are likely to continue to grow for years, this bill would take a good step towards making the American economy more competitive,” said Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the chairman of the committee. “And by helping green industries to grow by providing them with a strong supply of well-trained, highly-skilled workers, this bill would remove one of the barriers that slows our progress in confronting the serious dangers posed by global warming.” 

The Green Jobs Act of 2007 (H.R. 2847), introduced by Reps. Hilda Solis (D-CA) and John Tierney (D-MA), authorizes up to $125 million in funding to establish national and state job training programs, administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, to help address job shortages that are impairing growth in green industries, such as energy efficient buildings and construction, renewable electric power, energy efficient vehicles, and biofuels development.

“Training our workers in renewable energy industries will help reinvigorate America’s economy and improve our global competitiveness,” said Tierney, a member of the committee. “The recent announcement of potential layoffs at the Lucent plant in Massachusetts evidences that we must take immediate steps to strengthen and diversify our manufacturing sector by creating good, new jobs and preparing people to take advantage of them.  I am pleased that, with today’s Committee action, our bill is on the path toward passage in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

The Green Jobs Act would also help identify and track the new jobs and skills needed to grow the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries.  Among other things, this effort would link research and development in the green industry to job standards and training curricula.

The new job training programs would create jobs that put workers on a path to financial self-sufficiency. Funding for these programs could be used to pay for the occupational training itself, as well for support services for workers while they are in the training, like child care.  Priority for these training programs would be given to veterans, displaced workers, and at-risk young people.

“As a nation that was built on innovation and technology, I know that we can achieve the goals of becoming energy independent and reducing our global warming emissions. But the strength of our nation’s economy depends on the availability of a highly skilled and well-trained work force,” said Solis. “This legislation is an opportunity to advance not only the energy security of our nation, but also the economic security of our families. Through targeted job training efforts, we can support both our nation’s innovation and technological leadership and lift people out of poverty.”

During the committee’s consideration of the bill today, Democrats defeated a Republican amendment that would have extended the bill’s provisions to the highly wasteful practice of turning coal into liquid. The coal-to-liquid process is both economically and environmentally inefficient. Fuel from liquid coal produces more than double the amount of heat-trapping pollution that conventional petroleum-based fuels produce.

“Turning coal into liquid fuel takes us in the wrong direction in our efforts to fight global warming and it wastes enormous amounts of water — a precious commodity in my home state of California,” Miller said today. “Renewable energy and energy efficiency are the keys to addressing global warming while also creating good jobs and strengthening our economy.”