By Barbara Kessler

The United Steelworkers have been busy constructing a new green future for themselves, building wind turbines, for instance, at existing mills that might otherwise be suffering in the economic downturn. Now the labor group wants to, shall we say, buttress that future, by promoting green energy and jobs all around.usw.jpg

Working with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, the USW today announced an American green jobs initiative that will promote renewable energy and independence from fossil fuels, an endeavor that could create more than 820,000 new green jobs nationwide, according to the press release.

“What is really exciting about this campaign is the opportunity to create jobs, help fix our broken economy and contribute to solving the biggest environmental challenge of our generation at the same time,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard.

The Green Jobs for America education campaign hopes to show that investing in clean energy is the best way to fight global warming, bring energy costs under control, create new well-paying jobs and stoke the economy.

The effort will be coordinated by USW, Sierra Club, NRDC and Blue Green Alliance (a partnership of the USW and Sierra Club) organizers in 12 states, many of which are known for either having steel plants or producing the iron ore for steel; but they also have a bright future in new energy technology. According to a Blue Green Alliance study, these states stand to gain more than 250,000 jobs in manufacturing wind turbine and solar power equipment.

Those states: New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, Missouri, Virginia, Tennessee, Florida, Oregon, and Nebraska.

Blue Green Alliance Executive Director David Foster said that green jobs are not only those that produce a green product designed for a specific environmental purpose but also repurposed existing jobs, such as when steelworkers turn their expertise toward making wind turbines.

“The green revolution isn’t just creating new and different jobs,” Foster said. “It’s revitalizing and creating new investment in a lot of the jobs we already have.”

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