On August 2, 2019, Representative Antonio Delgado (D-NY) introduced the Green Jobs & Opportunity Act to encourage the creation of a clean energy economy in the United States. The bill enlists the Departments of Energy and Labor to draft a comprehensive report on current and future clean energy jobs, funding clean energy job training programs, and creating a National Advisory Committee on Clean Energy Technology. The bill was co-sponsored by 36 Democratic representatives, but no Republicans.
In the preamble, the bill refers to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) statement that the world must reach net-zero global emissions by 2050 to avoid the most adverse impacts of climate change. The bill is conscious of the necessity of the clean energy sector’s success to this goal, and aims to prepare the United States workforce for a smooth transition to clean energy.
The bill requires the federal government to take three distinct steps to help with this transition. First, it requires the Departments of Labor and Education to collect current and future data regarding labor shortages within the clean energy industry, for positions such as skilled technical personnel, electric power engineers, transmission engineers and other occupations under the agriculture, forestry, electricity utility, manufacturing, wholesale, professional, business services, and operation and maintenance industries. The Departments of Labor and Education would have to publish a report on this within 120 days of the bill’s passage, and on a quarterly basis thereafter. The bill also requires the Department of Labor to submit an annual report on projected trends and shortages in the clean energy industry for the next 10 years.
Second, the bill requires the Department of Labor to establish a grant program for educational and other institutions to establish training programs for any occupation that the report has found unprepared for the transition to a clean energy economy. To be eligible to receive these grants, an entity must be an institution of higher education, a postsecondary vocational institution, a secondary school, a bureau funded school, a labor organization, a registered apprenticeship program, or an education and training provider. Although the bill does not specify how long the grant program will last, individual grants will be issued for a one-year period and have a maximum award of $2.5 million.
Third, the bill creates a private-public National Advisory Committee on Clean Energy Technology (“Advisory Committee”) within the Department of Labor. The Advisory Committee would include representatives from private and non-governmental sector organizations, such as employers, labor organizations, educational institutions, and environmental organizations that support and utilize clean energy technology. They will be joined by representatives from the Departments of Labor, Education, and Energy. Appointments to the Advisory Committee position will last for three years. The bill calls on the Advisory Committee to make recommendations to the Sectary of Labor on all matters related to the administration of the bill.
This bill has received minimal attention so far, and would need the bipartisan support it is currently lacking to get passed. However, it is representative of efforts in both the House and Senate to get the conversation started on how to prepare US workers for the transition from a fossil-fuel dependent to low-carbon economy.