Muckraker: Grist on Politics

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has been named chair of the newly formed Green Jobs and New Economy Subcommittee of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the senator announced on Thursday.

“Today we face the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. There is no better moment to move forward aggressively on energy efficiency and creating new sustainable energy and creating jobs in the process,” Sanders said in a statement. “The potential for job growth in this area is bigger than almost anything else I can think of.”

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Sanders has coauthored two pieces of legislation on green-collar jobs — a green-jobs training program and the Energy and Environmental Block Grant program, both of which were signed into law in 2007.

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In other green jobs news, labor secretary nominee Hilda Solis finally got the approval of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on Wednesday. Her confirmation had first been delayed by an anonymous hold from a Republican committee member, and then was further delayed when her husband’s tax problems came to light. The Senate is expected to vote on her confirmation before it adjourns for Presidents’ Day recess.

Both Sanders and Solis will have plenty of work to do on green jobs. The economic stimulus plan that the House and Senate have agreed on includes $500 million for green jobs programs through the Workforce Investment Act.

More musical chairs

The Environment and Public Works Committee and the Energy and Natural Resources Committee both announced their new subcommittee chairs this week, which will also be of interest to political spectators.

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On Environment and Public Works, Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) is taking over the chairmanship of the Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health Subcommittee, Ben Cardin (D-Md.) will assume leadership of the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) will head the Oversight Subcommittee. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) will maintain his chairmanship of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, and Tom Carper (D-Del.) will stay head of the Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee.

On Energy and Natural Resources, Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) has been named as the chair of the Energy Subcommittee. First-termer Mark Udall (D-Colo.) is going to head up the Subcommittee on National Parks (see our interview with him here). Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) will lead the Subcommittee on Water and Power, and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) will remain the chair of the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests.