Yesterday, I had the honor of representing Secretary LaHood and the Department of Transportation at the 2011 Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference. This forum seeks to share ideas for building a strong, competitive economy--with good jobs--that also works to reduce global warming and address other environmental problems.
And nowhere is the possibility for progress greater than in the transportation sector, which accounts for two-thirds of the United States’ oil use and contributes one-third of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.
When we talk about good jobs and green jobs, I cannot imagine a strategy more appropriate than the development of an American high-speed intercity rail network. Accessible to more than 80 percent of the nation, this 21st century network will help alleviate congestion on our roadways and in our skies, increase convenience for travelers, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The necessary rail upgrades will also improve the efficiency of freight movement in America.
And dozens of companies in the rail business are ready to build plants and hire American workers. Should they be awarded contracts, 30 suppliers and manufacturers have already committed to locate or expand their base of operations in the US. And they'll be building our rail networks with American workers using American-made materials.
It's also clear that nearly every aspect of the Federal Transit Administration's mission involves good jobs in a green industry.
Earlier this week, FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff and I were in Raleigh touring a new Capital Area Transit operations and bus maintenance center. This LEED-certified facility sets a new standard for tranist agencies across the country. And the expanding CAT fleet means more North Carolinians are using transit as their preferred way of getting around. Again, we're talking about good jobs constructing the new center, good jobs keeping CAT buses on the road, and a Raleigh area where every transit user means less foreign oil and lower emissions.
CAT facility at night, courtesy goodnightraleigh.com
And the CAT facility is only one example. We recently signed a TIGER grant agreement with the City of Tucson for the Modern Streetcar Project. This 3.9 mile transit line will offer an environmentally friendly transportation option to more than 125,000 people who live, work, or attend college along the route. There will be good jobs in construction, good jobs manufacturing the streetcars, good jobs operating the new line, and good jobs as businesses near transit stations see increased traffic.
DOT’s partnership with the EPA, state governments, industry, and environmental groups in raising the fuel economy standards for passenger cars and light trucks to 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016 is also a win for the economy.
GM, Ford, and Chrysler are already working with colleges and universities to develop courses to train and retrain the engineers who will be expected to develop tomorrow's electric and hybrid cars. These three companies are looking to hire thousands of engineers.
In Detroit, they understand that to win the future in a world of delicate environmental balance and increasingly scarce resources, American businesses have to be more innovative. Greening themselves is not just a strategy to protect our environment, but to compete in a global economy.
And that translates to good, green jobs here at home.