Paving the Way for New Green Jobs

Science leaves no room for doubt: climate change has reached the threshold of an existential crisis. As the recently published Fourth National Climate Assessment makes clear, our nation’s safety, health, and quality of life are increasingly at risk from the effects of human-caused climate change. These findings are reinforced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2018 Special Report, which issued a similarly urgent warning. It is critical that our nation enacts policies that lower carbon emissions and increase investment in renewable energy sources. And equally important, these policies must do right by our communities here in Upstate New York.

Bold action is necessary, and many of the folks I met on the campaign trail last fall are hungry for new climate policies. I was proud to vote in favor of creating a Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, a key component of the Green New Deal’s plan for reorganizing climate efforts in Congress. And now it is my responsibility to analyze the proposals approved by the panel — and also to put forward my own that reflect the needs of my District and our country.

Fighting climate change has not only a moral justification, but also an economic logic. Given the potential for exponential job growth in the renewable energy space, enacting ambitious climate proposals is essential to protecting both the quality of our environment and the economic health of our District.

To achieve our shared goals of drastically reduced carbon emissions, we need a menu of policy proposals that can get us there. That’s why, as the Select Committee takes shape and begins its important work, I am focused on ways to ensure our workforce is prepared for the shift to a new, green economy. Far too often, not enough emphasis is placed on helping workers whose livelihoods will be impacted by the reinvention of our nation’s energy sector. A successful transition must include a clear path for workers in the fossil fuel industry to pursue better paying, longer lasting, new green jobs.

To that end, I plan to introduce legislation that would require the Department of Energy to conduct a study identifying what green jobs are currently in demand — and will be in demand in the future — in the U.S. energy sector, and what skills are required to hold them. Distressingly, more than a decade has lapsed since any government agency authored a study of this nature. My bill would also establish a pilot program to award grants to community colleges and small businesses to provide job training in accordance with the study’s findings.

Our District is blessed with stunning natural beauty that is vital to the success of countless local businesses. The Delaware River, for example, generates more than $400 million in economic value to our region every year. To me, climate change is not only a global issue, but a critical local one: it endangers the natural resources upon which our community depends for recreational and industrial uses, threatens our farmers, exacerbates the Lyme disease crisis we already have, and hurts tourism.

As the new Congressman for New York’s 19th Congressional District and as the father of two young boys, I feel a solemn responsibility to do my part in ensuring that our children have bright futures and inherit a healthy and vibrant planet. Please know that I will be a steward of progressive environmental policies and economic growth at home in Upstate New York.

Congressman Antonio Delgado is the newly-elected representative for New York’s 19th Congressional District.