Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson learns about proper attic weatherizing from Benson A. Johnson, who teaches sealing techniques at Southface Energy Institute’s Southeast Weatherization and Energy Efficiency Training Center in downtown Atlanta.
An Obama administration official came to Atlanta on Tuesday to give a $300,000 grant for "green jobs."
But those jobs, it turns out, might be considered quite dirty. The group awarded the money, the Center for Working Families in Atlanta, will train 40 people to remove contaminants from homes, from asbestos to lead paint.
It's not your typical "green job" -- which conjures up images of installing solar panels or wind turbines. But cleaning up contaminants is as important for public health, said Lisa Jackson, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She said the EPA considers green jobs anything that "protects people's health from pollution” and creates healthier communities.
For Khari Hunt, the grant means his group can train people to clean up contaminated homes. The grant specifically is for preparing unemployed people for jobs in construction, remodeling and brownfield cleanup.
They will learn how to remove lead and asbestos from homes, sample soil, recycle demolition debris, and conduct an energy audit. Some green building techniques are included in the training as well.
Hunt hopes to use other grants to create a spinoff group that would employ the trainees to fix up homes in the Mechanicsville and Pittsburgh neighborhoods in Atlanta.
“There’s no lack of work,” he said.
Asbestos and lead removal, added the EPA’s Jackson, "is a skill, and one for which people pay handsomely.”
“We don’t have to choose between clean air and green jobs. We can do both,” said Jackson.
She used a news conference at the Southface Energy Institute to announce $6.2 million in training grants to 21 organizations nationwide. This is the first grant for the Atlanta group.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed thanked the EPA for the grant, saying “expanding green jobs couldn’t come at a better time.”
Since 1998, EPA has awarded more than $35 million under the Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Program. Of the more than 6,600 people trained, 4,400 found full-time work in an environmental field with an average hourly wage of $14.65, the EPA said. The training targets unemployed people from low-income areas.
The program also was used to train Gulf Coast residents to clean up after the BP oil spill and those who helped at the World Trade Center after 9/11.
The members of the state ethics commission, eager to bring order to one of the most disordered corners of state government, hired a “receiver” last week to heal their agency and then did they only thing they could.
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