Senator Bernie Sanders toured a home construction site in Burlington where workers are learning new skills and using the latest energy-efficiency technology in a project that could be a model for "green collar jobs" of the future. "As we move forward to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reverse global warming, we can create millions of good-paying jobs. But, we will not be able to move as fast as we should unless we have a well-trained workforce knowledgeable about energy efficiency technologies, as well as sustainable energy," Sanders said.
"The goal of my workforce development legislation, which was adopted last week in the Senate, is not only to create good paying jobs, but to help people lower their energy costs. There are estimates that, properly retrofitted, the average home can cut energy consumption by 40 percent. This will mean significant saving in fuel bills."
The Senate this week resumes debate on an energy bill after passing an amendment by Sanders and Senator Hillary Clinton to train workers in new technologies associated with energy-efficiency and renewable energy.
The work site Sanders visited is a project by Burlington's Community & Economic Development Office and Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity, with reconstruction work by ReCycle North, a Burlington-based non-profit organization, and technical assistance on energy efficiency by Burlington Electric Department.
"The young men and women who construct this housing will help relieve poverty by providing not just a house, but one that will save money on energy bills while keeping the inhabitants safe and comfortable," said Thomas Longstreth, executive director of ReCycle North. "Energy efficiency must become a new engine for economic development, and Senator Sanders amendment will jump start that engine."
Beth Sachs, executive director of the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, said, "The urgency of global warming impels us to move much more quickly and creatively than we have up to now. The technologies are ready, but we need a trained workforce to deliver them. This amendment bridges that gap."
Bracken Hendricks, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., said "it is time to recognize that jobs and the environment go hand in hand. We cannot have one without the other. The Sanders-Clinton Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Worker Training Program is a critically important measure that will help ensure both our energy independence and economic security as our nation builds a clean and prosperous future for all Americans."
Clean Water Action, Earthjustice, Public Citizen, The Sierra Club, The Union of Concerned Scientists, business organizations, the AFL-CIO, The Apollo Project and other labor groups backed the Sanders-Clinton Amendment.