Coal Tattoo

Obama DOL: Helping W.Va. workers find ‘green jobs’


Yesterday’s release of the report detailing the expected decline of Central Appalachia’s coal production has generated continued discussion here on Coal Tattoo about the subject of a regional economic transition that would involve more “green jobs.”

Well, today we got at least a little bit of an answer from the Obama administration, in the form of a $6 million grant to the state’s Workforce West Virginia program to help about 1,600 West Virginians find employment in environmentally-friendly jobs.

My buddy, Gazette business editor Eric Eyre, has the story here. According to Eric:

The grants will directly benefit veterans and workers recently laid off in West Virginia, Solis said.

As part of the grant, about 70 people will receive certification for jobs at water and sewer plants, and 60 people will receive wind energy technology certificates across the state.

The money also will train current and future workers in the construction and bio-mass/bio-power industries. Training will be offered in retrofitting and installation, and “green” entrepreneurship. 

Two new community college programs focusing on clean energy jobs will be created.

This grant to West Virginia is part of $190 million in “green jobs” grants announced by the Department of Labor today. Project summaries are available here. In a press release announcing the grants, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis (above) said:

These grants will help workers gain access to good jobs, while supporting the sort of statewide energy efficiency strategies that play a crucial role in building the green economy of the 21st century.

But here’s one thing I noticed … About a month ago, Obama Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced federal funding to help American Electric Power with its big carbon capture demonstration project over in Mason County.  Chu held a conference call with local media to discuss the project, and coalfield politicians — including Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Gov. Joe Manchin of West Virginia — were falling all over themselves to join in that conference call and get quoted about “clean coal.”

Today, Eric listened in to the labor department’s “green jobs” announcement conference call. He tells me that no West Virginia political leaders took part … Are they in favor of green jobs, or just supporters of “clean coal”?