When the President’s Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed last month, $500 million was allocated to funding the 2007 Green Jobs Act (an increase of 400% over the original allocation). Since the creation of green jobs was one of the UUA’s Legislative Objectives for the 111th Congress, we were thrilled. But we also knew that getting the money was only a small part of what needs to be done. Just as important is how the money would be spent. Who would be in charge.
With that in mind, we could not possibly be happier to hear that Van Jones has been confirmed to be the Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. (Green Jobs Czar has a ring to it, but that’s not his actual job title nor is it accurate.)
In our opinion, no one could be more qualified than Van Jones. Van is the founder of Green For All, an organization devoted to environmental justice with whom the UUA works in partnership. Van is author the the best-selling book, “The Green Collar Economy: How one solution can solve our two biggest problems,” which the UUA has helped to promote. And UUs are still talking about Van’s Ware Lecture at General Assembly last year. Entitled Prepare to Govern, Van talked about a “Green New Deal” and challenged UUs to shift from protesters to leaders. To say that his presentation was well-received would be an understatement. The audience erupted into a standing ovation and Van ran into the crowd exchanging high-fives until he was finally engulfed in a group hug from young adult UUs.
Largely in response to Van’s lecture, Advocacy & Witness (of which the Washington Office is a part) made funding for the creation of green jobs a legislative priority for the 111th Congress. At the time when we set these priorities, we didn’t necessarily think it would be easy to accomplish, but we knew it had to be done, for the sake of the planet and for economic justice. Then Barack Obama was elected president, and the economy showed that it desperately needed restructuring… and all of the sudden, almost everyone is talking about a green economy, including the White House. When the Obama administration talked about lifting families out of poverty through green jobs, we all knew who had the new president’s ear and were grateful for it.
Now that it’s official, all we have to say is: Congratulations, Mr. Van Jones! Thanks for everything you’ve done so far. And we look forward to working with you as our nation continues transitioning towards an economy that is more just, more equitable, and more green.