DENVER — Vice President Joe Biden and two Cabinet secretaries unveiled a national program Tuesday to train workers for "green jobs" that will make public housing more energy-efficient.
Biden, Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced the plan in Denver at a meeting of President Barack Obama's task force on the middle class.
Donovan said some of the $4 billion from Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus plan that was budgeted to renovate public housing will be spent to create jobs for making the dwellings more energy efficient.
Solis, another task force member, said $500 million will be distributed as grants for training workers. That sum includes $50 million for communities battered by job losses and restructuring in the auto industry.
Investing in public housing will improve its quality, reduce energy costs for residents and the government and create jobs for people who live in the units and their neighbors, Donovan said. Some of the stimulus money also will be used for basic repairs and maintenance.
The energy, education and labor departments also announced a partnership to help link the unemployed with jobs, training and education opportunities.
Led by Biden, the task force has been working since January on policies to help America's middle class. A report it released in February said green jobs pay up to 20 percent more than other jobs and can't easily be transferred overseas.
Obama has argued that putting an environmental focus on the economy _ reducing dependence on foreign fuel, developing domestic energy alternatives and addressing climate change _ can help pull the U.S. out of its worst downturn since the Depression.
"How could we possibly lead in the 21st century without a fundamental change in our energy policy?" Biden said Tuesday.
"It necessitates the jobs that will get us there," he added. "Green jobs are good jobs."
Associated Press writer Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.
On the Net:
Middle Class Task Force: http://www.astrongermiddleclass.gov