The energy industry is the third-largest industry in the U.S. and is projected to continue to grow. An estimated 60 percent of energy sector job growth will occur in skilled and technical jobs, and many of these jobs will occur in the clean energy sector. Of the entire energy sector, energy efficiency jobs are the fastest-growing, adding 133,000 new jobs in 2017.
However, the energy sector remains less diverse than the national workforce, and simultaneously, many employers in the energy efficiency industry are having trouble finding enough qualified workers. The Blue Collar and Green Collar Jobs Development Act — which has attracted bi-partisan political support — can help correct this inequity and bridge that gap by increasing training opportunities for women, people of color, veterans, and workers transitioning from other energy fields.
It is also critical that the federal government lead the way when it comes to both energy efficiency and creating a more diverse and equitable energy sector. That is why I also plan to introduce legislation to ensure that minority business owners and entrepreneurs can participate in the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP). This multi-billion-dollar, taxpayer-funded program helps Federal agencies identify funding and contract assistance for energy efficiency and renewable energy management projects.
There are literally thousands of federally-owned office buildings, courthouses, post offices, and the like that must be retrofitted in order reduce emissions and increase energy savings. However, it is equally important that these lucrative, government-backed deals are not only being awarded to the same ‘good old boys’ networks of yesteryear.
In our haste to address the real and present threat posed by climate change, we must not allow minorities and other vulnerable communities to be economically left behind. As Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Energy, I will ensure that all Americans share in the prosperity of a cleaner and greener economy.
–Congressman Bobby Rush, the Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Energy
Congressman Bobby L. Rush represents the 1st congressional district of Illinois and is the second highest-ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where he chairs the Subcommittee on Energy.