EPA Programs Receiving Funding Under the Recovery Act
Please give us some examples of the types of shovel ready jobs that are available to help reduce the unemployment rate?
The shovel-ready jobs under the Recovery Act are mainly bread-and-butter, wastewater, and gentle-water operations. You can think about new pipes in the ground; you can think about the 20-year local wastewater treatment plant.
You’ll see renewable energy, solar, and wind projects starting to come to life with the recovery logo and you’ll see lots and lots of opportunities for energy efficiency, retrofitting schools, retrofitting churches, retrofitting homes in our communities. All of those are opportunities for new jobs. They might not need shovels, but [they’re] hammer and nail ready.
President Obama’s Green Job Act aims to create three million new jobs. In the green collar job market, what will employers want to see in terms of experience?
In certain jobs people will need a high level of skill, so obviously technical training. There is a need for engineers of many different kinds. I read an article the other day that mechanical and civil engineers, a lot of disciplines like that are seeing upticks. Nuclear engineers. There’s lots of talk about how we don’t actually have nuclear engineers being trained in this country right now.
When you’re getting that training and somebody is paying money and getting training, you should be asking how does this relate to the green economy?
Will the EPA support minority involvement in trends in green practices? Will there be a push to encourage minorities to study environmentalism?
Absolutely. I certainly hope that if nothing else my being here shows minority students that there is an unlimited future for them in the environmental movement. It is an incredible opportunity in terms of building a career and one that makes you feel good every day about the work you are doing.
I would certainly hope that one of the legacies in my time here at EPA is that we literally changed the face of the environmental movement as people see it in this country. Environmentalism is not something that [is just for] the people with money, although we certainly appreciate the leadership of folks who support environmental causes. But for anyone who cares about the air that their children breathe and anybody who cares about pollution in their community, the right to a clean environment is almost as basic a right as any other that we have.
How will the Department of Energy and the Department of Labor be held accountable for making certain that small, disadvantaged, or minority owned businesses or low income residents will get a fair share of green contracts?
The president has made it clear that he intends to hold each agency accountable for opening up these historic opportunities to people of color and small businesses. The challenge here is that people are losing jobs as we speak, so people keep talking about new jobs. I think the president has said we also have to count all the jobs that will have been lost and that is a hard number to measure.
I think that means there will be changes across every single sector. Not in one sector. We will know we [have achieved that goal when we see] real integration of black owned businesses and women owned businesses.