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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

From Rust Belt to Green Belt

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Wisconsin is front and center in a regional push to create 820,000 new jobs producing cleaner energy technologies. The Green Jobs for America Campaign joins the United Steelworkers (USW), the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Blue Green Alliance, a partnership of the USW and Sierra Club, in a commitment to clean, renewable energy, energy independence and a move away from fossil fuels.

“Wisconsin is poised to grow green jobs in this new energy economy,” said Rosemary Wehnes, associate representative of the Sierra Club Midwest, in a statement announcing the campaign. “We have the manufacturing base and skilled workers who could retool to produce components for solar and wind installations. The potential is there to grow 35,133 new jobs in Wisconsin.”

But companies like Magnetek Inc. in Menomonee Falls, which manufactures wind power inverters, are already producing green components. Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that not only are “green jobs” good for the environment, but they also provide job security for a stressed workforce. “We’re talking about architects and engineers, drywall and lighting contractors, electricians and carpenters,” Beinecke said in the statement. “Everything from construction to computing. And these are jobs that cannot be shipped offshore, and pay lasting dividends to the American economy.”

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently named Milwaukee as one of 25 “Solar America Cities,” and awarded the city $200,000 “to develop a sustainable solar infrastructure” to benefit residents and businesses. The DOE is also assisting cities with solar financing options and incentive programs.

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