With lobbyists and lawmakers milling about Capitol Hill attired in festive emerald hues, a coalition of interest groups decided St. Patrick’s Day was a perfect opportunity to roll out an organized push for “green jobs” in the Tennessee General Assembly.
Legislators will start considering a bill that would help funnel federal dollars to the state to try stimulating the energy-efficiency industry. The legislation, which is expected to go before House and Senate committees next week, would build a task force devoted to helping the state attract federal dollars for green energy jobs.
“These are the jobs of the future. This is what we have to be aiming for. This and more,” said on of the proposal’s chief sponsors, Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga.
After several weeks of working potential wrinkles out of the legislation, Burke said the bill is now ready for primetime and he’ll be making its passage a priority beginning next week.
Clad in green clothes and stickers, representatives of the Green-Collar Task Force of Nashville and Davidson County, said the additional jobs would help address the state’s high unemployment and put money back into the economy.
“Green jobs are especially good because they cannot be easily outsourced, say, to Asia,” said Jerry Lee of the AFL/CIO. “If you put up solar panels, you can’t ship a building to Asia and have them put the solar panels on and ship it back. These jobs have to be done in the United States.”
House bill sponsor and Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, said he didn’t know how many green jobs would be created, but speculated it could be thousands within three or four years.
Tennessee is “uniquely positioned” to house jobs in energy efficiency because of the work being done at the state’s universities, he said.