Green economy would create jobs in Maine, says nationwide report

Posted Sept. 09, 2008, at 8:42 p.m.

A new report says more than 9,000 jobs could be created in Maine by making investments in a “green economic recovery program” that aims to reduce dependence on oil and fight global warming.

The report, released Tuesday, predicts that investing heavily in weatherizing homes and businesses, development of alternative energy, and mass transit would produce more than 2 million jobs nationwide. Investments should also be made in expanding freight rail and constructing more efficient electrical grid systems, the report stated.

The authors with the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts are calling for $100 billion investment nationwide through tax credits, federal loan guarantees and direct government spending.

The report was embraced Tuesday by a coalition of Maine businesses, labor leaders and conservation organizations.

Dylan Voorhees of the Natural Resources Council of Maine said putting the focus on energy and the environment will strengthen the economy, increase energy independence and fight global warming. Voorhees said it makes sense for Congress to address energy and environmental problems together because they are so closely linked.

Bruce Roy, secretary-treasurer of the Maine AFL-CIO, said the investments will help revitalize communities struggling to deal with job cuts at local mills, a slowdown in the construction industry and rising fuel prices.

“It’s also about retooling and investing in jobs we already have,” Roy said in a statement. “Putting up a wind farm creates jobs for machinists, truck drivers, electricians, and laborers. Making buildings more energy-efficient requires roofers and insulators. These are skills that many Maine workers already have and skills that others can be trained to do.”

Steve Konstantino of Maine Green Building Supply in Portland said his business — selling energy-efficient lighting, solar energy systems and other green building products — has doubled during the past year. Konstantino said now is the time for Maine to get plugged into the “clean energy economy.”

The report’s authors predicted a $100 billion investment over two years nationwide would create 9,132 jobs in Maine, reducing the unemployment rate in the state by more than 1 percentage point.

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