Green jobs could help Minnesota’s economy

As the nation faces pressing economic and environmental, Americans are calling for action to combat both issues at the same time. According to a survey released Nov. 12 by the Environmental Defense Fund, 58 percent of Americans think investment in new, clean energy technologies could create millions of jobs to help the country recover from the economic crisis. The Minnesota Green Jobs Task Force , formed by the state Legislature in the last session, researches the current green industry and will develop an action plan to help the Legislature and governor decide how to best advance MinnesotaâÄôs green industries. State Rep. Jeremy Kalin, DFL-North Branch, who is co-heading the group with state Sen. Ellen Anderson , DFL-St. Paul, said there is an opportunity to create thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue by building MinnesotaâÄôs green industries. Kalin said thereâÄôs been a call for more green initiatives at a grassroots level and some businesses have been taking steps to go green. But, he said, now is the time to start removing the remaining barriers to allow green industries to really take off. By focusing on building a green economy, Kalin said the state can address its environmental and economic issues at the same time. âÄúThere is certainly an opportunity in the next few years to turn this economy around as fast as we can in a sustainable way,âÄù he said. Kalin said he sees students as playing an important role in building green industries, serving as leaders and innovators as the industry grows. âÄúThere is definitely a role for young people to fill and make good money doing it,âÄù he said. Although green jobs are becoming more common, there still isnâÄôt a concrete definition of what a green job is, Richard Overmoyer , a researcher for the task force, said. In his teamâÄôs research, Overmoyer said they defined a green job as any job in an industry that is involved in producing green products, creating renewable energy, providing green services or promoting environmental conservation. Kit Batten , a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress , a Washington D.C. based think-tank, said that by investing $100 billion in the green economy over the next two years, an estimated 2 million jobs could be created nationwide. According to a September report released by the CAP, more than 37,000 jobs could be created in Minnesota alone if the $100 billion national investment went through. âÄúWeâÄôre talking about a major increase in job creation potential by investing in green strategies,âÄù Batten said. EcoWatch student group president Holly Lahd , a University senior in applied economics and environmental sciences, policy and management, said itâÄôs exciting to see green industries growing from a niche market into an important sector of the economy. Addressing economic and environmental problems at the same time is a good idea, she said, because there isnâÄôt time to put off environmental issues while the economy recovers. âÄúIâÄôm worried that the slow economy will be used as an excuse to not achieve our environmental goals,âÄù Lahd said.