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Friday, April 04, 2008

Green Jobs: 28 Years Of Promoting Green Collar Employment

PRESIDENT'S CORNER. By Norris McDonald. I joined the environmental movement in 1979, founded AAEA in 1985 and I am proud of our long history of promoting green collar jobs. I was a research assistant for the Energy Conservation Project at the Environmental Policy Center (now Friends of the Earth) in the early 1980's and was lobbying Congress for more money for weatherization assistance during the Reagan Administration. I later became Director of the Project. I was the principle author of the Federal Shared Energy Savings Act signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. We audited and weatherized hundreds of homes in Washington, DC in the 1980's. I also trained at and worked with Water Management, Inc to fix water leaks all over the Washington Metropolitan Area. We used a Washington Gas grant to install high efficiency furnaces in public housing in the late 80's. We also started an intern program to place minority students at mainstream environmental organizations. AAEA and I have been working for Green Jobs at the local and national levels for over a quarter century. (More History)

In the 1990's we took green jobs to the water by operating creek walks and boat tours of the Anacostia River, Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. We partnered with Seafarer's Yacht Club, America's first Black boat club, to conduct river clean ups during Earth Days. In the 21st Century we have gone international by establishing offices in Nigeria and China. Currently we are promoting a recycling partnership between the richest majority Black county, Prince Georege's County, and Pedreira, Brazil. We hope this Sister City Program agreement will promote green jobs and other types of cooperation between the U.S. and Brazil. AAEA believes green jobs can create needed employment for 'at-risk' youth and veterans. Finally, AAEA worked for the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act, which included the Green Jobs Act of 2007. This legislation included $125 million to assist with training for 35,000 people. Green jobs will be crucial in mitigating global warming, which is the most important environmental issue facing the world today.

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