Environmental Activist Gets a White House Job
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Author and activist Van Jones has a new job as President Barack Obama’s adviser on green jobs and energy initiatives. Jones, a strong advocate for environmental justice, is the founder of Green For All, an Oakland, California, organization that works to create green jobs in impoverished neighborhoods. Jones is also the author of the 2008 bestseller The Green Collar Economy.
Jones will be joining the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Nancy Sutley, CEQ chair, said, “Van Jones has been a strong voice for green jobs, and we look forward to having him work with departments and agencies to advance the president’s agenda of creating 21st-century jobs that improve energy efficiency and utilize renewable resources.”
According to a statement issued by Green for All, Jones’ White House job will involve “helping to shape and implement job-generating climate policy; working to ensure equal protection and equal opportunity in the administration’s climate and energy proposals; and publicly advocating the administration’s environmental and energy agenda.”
A handyman, not a czar
In an interview with Michael Burnham of Greenwire, Jones rejected the suggestion that he will become Obama’s “green jobs czar.” Jones said, “I’m the green-jobs handyman. I’m there to serve. I’m there to help as a leader in the field of green jobs, which is a new field. I’m happy to come and serve and be helpful, but there’s no such thing as a green-jobs ‘czar.’ ”
In his conversation with Jones, Burnham noted, “A Rutgers University report . . . suggests that most green job openings will not be new occupations, but rather traditional occupations with a new layer of ‘green’ skills and credentials; for example, laborers and building contractors who need specialized training and certification to perform home-weatherization audits.” Jones responded, “That’s one of the exciting things about this. Sometimes people think we’re talking about some exotic occupation from Mars that nobody’s ever heard of; that we’re talking about George Jetson or Buck Rogers when we’re thinking about green jobs. We’re not talking about solar ray guns; we’re talking about caulking guns as one of the major tools we’re going to need to be smarter with energy. Those are jobs our existing workforce, with a little training, can start doing right away.”
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