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 sick.
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.