Archive for the ‘green jobs’ Category

Green jobs and cars offer hope for U.S. economy

February 6, 2009

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (above, far right) at the 2009 Washington Auto Show

The latest Labor Department buzz-kill report that Uncle Sam shed almost 600,000 jobs in January is beyond depressing. Could there possibly be a silver lining to this relentless economic attrition?

The people who work at I-GO, for our parent company the Center for Neighborhood Technology, and at other green-industry orgs and businesses across the nation think so.

Consider this: Even as the U.S. Senate drags its Bruno Magli heels implementing President Obama’s economic stimulus shot-in-the-arm (an arm—if we’re to torture this metaphor further—that’s showing some serious junky track marks lately), there are two fascinating trade shows taking place in D.C. that are giving off faint whiffs of optimism and future progress: the Good Jobs Green Jobs National Conference and the Washington Auto Show.

Check out the list of keynote speakers at the former, where more than 2,000 labor, environmental and business advocates are schmoozing to shape the national debate about investment in clean energy and green technologies.

When was the last time anyone saw the CEOs of the American Wind Power Association and the Alliance for Climate Protection mingling with the Teamsters and United Steelworkers unions? Strange bedfellows? Not in these radically changing times, folks. I prefer to see it as a hugely promising sign of collaboration between traditional industry and the emerging green vanguard.

Meanwhile, down the block, at the Auto Show, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (a questionable Obama-cabinet Illinois pol who probably isn’t going to wash that bad Blagojevich taste from our mouths any time soon) and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (who may prove just as toxic) are virtually red-carpet celebrities. The Big Three is kissing up to D.C. and giving the emissions-control folks all the green they want—as in green cars, not cash.

A US News & World Report article on the Auto Show’s website and another by Washington Post auto industry reporter Warren Brown make it clear that the balance of power and clout have left Detroit and entered the Beltway, presumably for the long haul.

Green cars are all the rage at the show, which prominently featured a Green Car Summit panel discussion and plenty of grinning greenhorns. Automakers and their lobbyists are working the levers to convince policymakers that Detroit is finally heeding the call to build more fuel-efficient cars:

It’s a radical change for an industry that once used its clout to prevent fuel-efficiency laws from passing. “Has the industry lost its power to say no?” Dave McCurdy, president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, asked the Post. “The industry is saying, ‘Yes, however. . . . Yes, let’s work it out.’ It’s a different starting point in the discussion. The nature of the industry has changed.”

Biggest sign of the times at the show: The Chevrolet Volt won the 2009 Green Car Vision Award given by auto enthusiast magazine Green Car Journal. The contestants it beat out included an electric version of the MINI Cooper (OMG, how cute would that be?) and Honda’s FCX Clarity, an all-hydrogen fuel cell sedan (Honda and Toyota—what can you say? ahead of the curve again).

The Volt sounds pretty awesome, though. From the Auto Show’s site:

“The Chevy Volt offers a bold and far-reaching approach that will bring an exceptionally fuel efficient model to consumers at reasonable cost,” says Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of the Green Car Journal and editor of GreenCar.com. “Besides being a great design, the Volt promises exactly what many consumers are asking for – a car capable of driving on zero emission battery power most of the time at pennies per mile, with over 100 mpg possible on longer journeys when electric power from its range extender engine-generator is needed.”

Here’s a slogan I’ll give Chevy for free: “Rock the Volt”

Eh? Pretty good, right?