With the economy on the minds of millions of Americans, President Obama
continues to make job creation this administration's top priority. Today
the U.S Environmental Protection Agency is following through on that
priority by supporting the creation of good, green jobs for Americans
across the country.
The EPA is awarding more than $6.2 million in workforce development and
job training grants to 21 communities nationwide. Organizations
receiving grant support -- ranging from a state environmental agency to
community-based groups -- will use it to train job-seekers, giving them
the tools they need to manage, assess and clean up contaminated
properties known as brownfields. In addition to providing marketable
skills, part of the grant funding will help place those newly trained
workers into available employment -- creating a straight line between
our investment and new jobs.
The environmental, health and economic benefits of brownfields cleanups
are extensive and long-lasting. Brownfields sites are places like old
gas stations, closed smelters and other industrial and commercial
properties that have been left too contaminated to be safely
redeveloped. The training programs supported by today's grants will help
graduates revitalize these sites with skills like solid waste
management, underground storage tank removal, green construction and
clean energy installation.
But this is about more than just creating jobs for one or two cleanup
projects. The workers trained under these grants will be strengthening
the conditions needed for healthy, sustainable job growth in their own
communities. Rather than sitting idle and posing threats to the health
of local residents, the revitalized sites can be safely transformed into
parks or new economic developments. Since its inception, the brownfields
program has sparked the transformation of once-abandoned and
contaminated lands into business centers, recreational areas and other
developments. That renewal sparks job creation, economic growth and
healthier, stronger communities to raise a family and start a business.
The public and private partnerships fostered through the brownfields
program have helped create more than 70,000 new jobs. And, as of June 1,
2011, the brownfields job training program alone has trained and placed
almost 5,400 people in full-time, sustainable jobs.
Under President Obama's leadership, we will continue to push for good,
green jobs in communities across the nation. It makes perfect sense to
seize the abundant opportunities to put people to work protecting the
air we breathe, the water we drink and the lands where we build our
communities. We can get the important economic benefits of new jobs,
while we help make our communities better places to raise a family free
from health risks, or to start a business knowing that problems in the
environment aren't going to turn away customers or make workers call in
In other words, we can show that we don't have to choose between
breathing clean air and drinking clean water or creating good jobs. We
can do them all at the same time.
Lisa P. Jackson is the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.