Energy Bill Includes Amendment for Green Training at Community Colleges

from Wildlife Promise

A new amendment to the 2009 energy bill is designed to fund job training at community colleges in renewable and alternative energy fields.

This amendment, sponsored by Senator Wyden (D-Ore.) would authorize $500 million ($100 million per year for five years) to ensure that workers are ready to create, install and maintain wind, solar, biomass and geothermal projects. Once passed, the bill authorizes the Department of Energy to fund programs at 1,200 American community colleges, with half of the funds going towards schools who already have strong programs in place

A letter sent on Monday by National Wildlife Federation to Senators Bingaman and Murkowski, Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, supported the inclusion of provisions for community colleges and stated, "This amendment would establish a community college-based training and education program for sustainable and alternative energy technologies such as wind energy technicians, energy auditors, geothermal energy technicians, and energy efficient construction."

Organizations such as NWF and the American Association of Community Colleges also point out that this amended bill supports education and training for workers in sustainable agriculture and farming. Recent articles in ClimateEdu and the Chronicle of Higher Education have explored the issue of teaching sustainable agriculture, but focused on liberal arts schools like Warren Wilson College and the University of Montana. Community colleges have largely stayed out of the farming arena (Central Carolina Community College being one of a few notable exceptions), but may soon be able to take advantage of federal funds for such projects.

However, such a day is still far off. The New York Times reports that the bill is still in early drafting stages, and due to the inclusion of mandatory limits on carbon emissions through a cap-and-trade market, lacks Republican support.