EPA’s Jackson Urges Blacks Not to Miss the Green Boat

Administrator wants to flood communities with eco-friendly information

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.

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  • Great interview.

  • Great article. I totally agree with Administrator Jackson in that African Americans should join the green movement. I believe there’s been a misconception that going green is a “white” thing, but that is rarely the case. Van Jones has been a vocal advocate for environmental justice for some time. If you have not read his book “The Green Collar Economy,” I suggest that you do. It will really open your mind to the concept of environmentalism and how it would solve both our problems of climate change and unemployment. I’m currently the campus sustainability officer at Virginia Wesleyan College, so I’m very much in support for the “green” movement, whether it’s recycling, or conserving energy.

  • Vince Macintosh

    Typical article, could have been written by any of the previous admins. Van Jones has been vocal but has not been in EJ long and has not TMK run any type of for profit business – not exactly the best qualifications. The only thing new here is more focus. Much of this was first proposed o in the 70s incl solar, wind, geothermal, etc. Then as now, price is set by the world market and consumers in the US make choices based on self interest, custom, and competition (all of which are reflected in marketing). A few greens, and (much fewer in number) people of color who have led the way in EJ and in the environmental movement overall have and do participate in the green economy. Where was Lisa Jackson and Obama all those/ these years. Johnny and Jane come lately to the party. I love t youth, the energy and fresh take on tried ideas but then there is reality. The recovery money will mostly go to established companies since it has to be spent right away and they will hire those already in the workforce who have the skills for those basic industries. There will be much oversight of these funds and risky new ventures will not see much of the overall pot. Look deeply into who ownes and who is buying up and into the green economy and jobs – the companies will be familiar and the MOs. I think there are a lot of good hings happening and that can happen and I’ve been black and green for a long long time. something we don’t seem to do is to look inward and respect history. Building a business takes time and energy. It takes a clear coherent message and the ability to address a need with something tangible. It takes specifics. Like many times before this is yet another opportunity. Let’s hope like before it’s not wasted, abandoned, or shortchanged. Support local business that practice sustainabilty regardless of the color of the owner, practice a sustainable lifestyle and reduce and reuse and buy products that contribute to that but only buy as much as you need and will use. Demand more from you elected and tax supported officials and agencies local, national and international. And, follow the money both upstream and downstream don’t be fooled by words. have they walked the talk and for how long.

  • I am so excited about going green. I have an innovative idea. But I am afraid of putting it out there. I have some, but limited business knowlegde. Although the market has been tapped. There room for growth in this going green service.
    I would like some one to direct me to where I should start. Some one suggested the SBA. I have to put my business plan together.

    Any thoughts Ypettaway@bellsouth.net

  • Interesting read. There is currently quite a lot of information around this subject around and about on the net and some are most defintely better than others. You have caught the detail here just right which makes for a refreshing change – thanks.