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Going green may bring job boom in state

Sep 10, 2008 - Joe Napsha - The Pittsburgh Tribune - Review McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Pennsylvania could gain about 86,000 jobs by investing in clean energy technologies, according to a report released Tuesday by a coalition of labor and environmental groups.

The report shows that the development of wind, solar and other clean energy plants and other facilities in the state could create jobs for electricians, carpenters, computer software personnel, installers, mechanics and metal fabricators, said Bracken Hendricks, a senior fellow for the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank.

Hendricks, project manager for the report, said the jobs estimate is based on an analysis of a suggested $100 billion investment nationwide in clean air technologies.

United Steelworkers President Leo W. Gerard, whose 850,000-member union is part of the coalition involved in the report, said the jobs creation by clean technologies is a reality.

"We revived three (steel) plate mills that make plate for windmill turbines," Gerard said yesterday in advance of a South Side town hall meeting where he and other speakers were to discuss the report.

"Green Jobs for the Steel City" was the theme for the meeting.

The government's push to get automakers to build fuel-efficient vehicles in the United States will help sustain a range of jobs in the steel, glass and parts industries, Gerard said.

To reduce carbon emissions, the nation can retro-fit buildings with American-made products, that will create "millions of jobs," Gerard said.

The USW participated in the release of the report produced by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Other groups involved were the Blue-Green Alliance, Sierra Club, Clean Air Council, Union of Concerned Scientists, PennFuture and PennEnvironment.

The report's premise is that a two-year, $100 billion "green investment" program could generate two million jobs nationwide, or nearly four times more than if the same amount were spent in the oil industry. Work to retrofit buildings for energy efficiency, expand mass transit and freight rail, and build "smart" power grids, plus wind, solar and biofuels facilities, could be funded.

The program could be paid for, the report said, with proceeds from auctions of carbon emissions permits to industries.

Under the cap-and-trade system, companies would be given a limited number of emissions allowances every year, and those companies could sell those allowances to other polluters whose plants may not be in compliance. Caps could be set to control emissions, and businesses could trade the permits.

But, the number of emission allowances would be cut every year, which would force industries to cut emissions of carbon dioxide.