My turn: Green jobs for a clean energy future

Posted: Monday, September 06, 2010

For decades it has been clear the way Americans produce and consume energy is not sustainable. Our addiction to foreign oil and fossil fuels puts our economy, our national security and our environment at risk.

We must make the commitment to clean energy sources and regain control of our energy future.

Alaska has flourished thanks to oil: the state produces about 8 percent of domestic oil, second only to Texas. No other state has such deep reserves of oil, natural gas and coal.

I also know how much of your own resources have been invested in green industries, and how critical these industries are to your future. Alaskans have been leaders in developing renewable energy projects.

More than 20 communities in rural Alaska have wind projects. Fleets of electric vehicles are used in areas of the state where shorter travel distances make use of EV's cost-effectiveness. And the biomass plants in Juneau serve as visible examples of the state's ingenuity in the development of a safe and sustainable energy future.

The Obama Administration also believes in these visionary efforts, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act constituted an unprecedented investment in the clean energy economy.

And the U.S. Department of Labor is training thousands of American workers in communities all across the country, including Alaska, for jobs in clean energy and other high-growth industries.

These programs are built on strategic partnerships. In Alaska, business, labor, bipartisan lawmakers and communities have worked hard to build a clean energy future while developing the state's abundant - but finite - natural resources.

By providing the training that will turn 20th century blue-collar jobs into secure 21st century green-collar jobs, we'll not only reduce our dependence on foreign energy, but also reenergize the American manufacturing sector. Americans want America to "make things again," and this administration is committed to ensuring that we emerge as the world leader in clean energy technology and jobs.

Each of us has a part to play in a new future that will benefit our great country. As we recover from this recession, the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of jobs - but only if we seize the moment and accelerate that transition. And that bold vitality of the Alaskan spirit will make the state a leader as the nation enters a new energy frontier.

Remember - the wind never runs out, you can't spill it on the shore and its jobs last for decades.

• Solis is the U.S. Secretary of Labor.

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