Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference
February 6, 2009
George Martin, I want to thank you very, very much for your kind introduction, and thank you also for your leadership at NewPage,… and your kindness for taking me on a tour of NewPage, I believe this time last year? I want to thank everyone at NewPage for the good work that they are doing, embracing the green revolution and contributing to our goals in Maryland for promoting sustainability.
We have a mission statement in our State government, and the first line of that mission statement is to strengthen and grow the ranks of an upwardly mobile middle class. The work that this conference is doing, while certainly it is about sustainability and about our responsibility to the future, it’s also about strengthening and growing the ranks of America’s middle class. Making it grow again, making it upwardly mobile, embracing innovation, embracing the challenges of these times and turning them into opportunities.
On the way in, in the green room, (I don’t know why they call it the green room, there wasn’t much that was green in it, call it the blue-green room) I saw Leo Gerard and I said, ‘Leo how are things?’ He said, ‘Things are terrible.’ I said, ‘Yes, but they’re going to get better.’
So turn to your neighbor, tell them things are going to get better. Now turn to your other neighbor and tell them things are going to get better. Isn’t it good to have a President who’s actually on our side and trying to make this world and our country a better place?
I want to thank all my friends at the United Steelworkers, including my good friend Jim Strong, who’s here with us today and is on my speed dial. This conference is not only important but essential in an era when sustainability may very well prove to be the defining issue of our times. Your leadership, vision, and foresight to see the inherent connection that exists in this issue of sustainability is really, really important work, and understanding the connection between reviving our economy and rebuilding our country’s job base and healing our planet at the same time is something for which we as Americans – and really as citizens of an ever more interconnected world – should all be very, very grateful and mindful of.
As we discuss the very complex and challenging issues stemming from Global Climate Change and other environmental priorities, we’re very fortunate to have leadership at the national level who shares our commitment to progress on these important matters, and a President who so very eloquently pledged to “restore science to its rightful place.”
We saw this leadership demonstrated just yesterday, when he ordered the Department of Energy to raise efficiency standards for home appliances. And we see this commitment in the President’s American Recovery and Reinvestment plan – which will help those of us in the states move forward toward the goals we all share. Right now in the halls of the Senate, as Senator Mikulski told me by BlackBerry just a few moments ago, “We’re in hand to hand combat for our country’s future.”
We’re capable of doing great things as a people. We have always been capable of doing great things as a people. The American public just needs to be challenged, we need to be given the leadership, and yes, we need to invest dollars today to make a better tomorrow. Let’s get that Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed.
We’re also blessed to be able to tackle these challenges from the vantage point that we have, in our own perspective as we stand on our own cutting edge of history – a point in human existence when our own creativity and imagination have expanded the outer bounds of human achievement and potential as never before, and by exponents never imagined.
These factors are all the more important, because we live in times when our own human frailty and that compounding of the twin human propensities for self-destruction and hyper-consumption of the planet’s resources threaten our American and global way of life as never before. We must again become that Revolutionary people that we have always been.
There is as a result, a tremendous need right now for American leadership and innovation in what I like to call the three major issues of our times; you might call the “Three S’s of our Twenty-first Century Challenges” – What are those Three S’s? American leadership in security, American leadership in skills, and American leadership in sustainability.
Woven throughout each of those S’s is the inherent value and importance of unlocking, harnessing, and advancing green technologies, and the green jobs that those technologies promise… of discovering new renewable forms of energy, bringing them quickly to scale not just for ourselves, but for the entire world, and preparing our American workforce for the new realities of a knowledge-based global economy where the countries which lead in these green technologies are going to be the countries that are best positioned to expand opportunity and expand prosperity for their own people.
So the chosen topic of this conference, “Good jobs, Green jobs,” could not be more important. To this end, I wanted to spend our brief time together today sharing with you some of things we are doing in Maryland to unlock, to harness, and advance the potential of green-collar jobs and sustainable technologies.
The Maryland Greener Jobs Initiative
We take great pride in the centrality that the State of Maryland has played since the beginning of the Revolution; that central State, that middle State, that State that leads, especially and most importantly in times of adversity. In Maryland we have set a goal of creating at least 100,000 green jobs by 2015, and we are working across our State government – along with partners in organized labor, and in the private, academic, and non-profit sectors – to implement twenty action items which are designed to create new jobs, advance eco-friendly technologies, and provide more Marylanders with the skills they need to participate and maximize the benefits for their own families, of a green economy.
This Greener Jobs Initiative is centered around five core strategies:
Number one, guided by our belief that Maryland is uniquely positioned for growth in the sustainability sector, we are aggressively working to attract, expand, and retain green businesses. Our State is blessed to have some of the world’s leading institutions of science and discovery – public, private, and federal. NIH, Johns Hopkins, and the list goes on and on. We have an abundance of natural resources. We have one of America’s most highly skilled workforces – the result of having what Education Week magazine just two weeks ago has ranked as the #1 best public school system in the United States of America.
And we also had another result from College Board which declared that our high school students are also #1 in terms of our high schools students that take AP exams and the level of achievement of the students that take those AP exams. And the tremendous work that we’re doing in reducing the traditional achievement gap is really impressive.
As our Administration works to leverage these assets to attract new business opportunities to Maryland, we’ve made the sustainability sector one of three priority areas (along with technology and life sciences) – and actually all three tend to blend, don’t they? We’re moving forward aggressively to design and implement policies that guide State investment towards these areas. Recently, the Milken Institute moved Maryland up from 4th in the nation to 2nd in terms of life science and biotechnology, and increasingly the promise for green technologies, for renewable energies are things that are stemming out of a lot that research in life science and biotech and will continue to morph as well into agriculture and improving yields.
Number two, we are working with our existing industries to assist them in adopting more sustainable practices – helping them protect their own bottom line, helping our planet, creating jobs for Maryland-based companies that provide services like installing solar panels and retrofitting buildings to make them energy efficient. As the great communicator, Bill Clinton once said – these are going to be jobs that stay in America – he said, “if you want somebody to install a green roof, they’re going to have to go up on your roof.”
We are ramping up our efforts to promote our green certification program which not only helps hotels, resorts and other tourist venues cut down on their energy bills – but it also helps them market themselves and our State to a very savvy tourist population that continues to grow more environmentally conscious and when they go and have conventions and travel, they want to know that they can make a difference in the choices that they make. It’s top of the mind not only for Americans but also for citizens around the world.
We’re also increasing the web presence and marketing of green practices being adopted by Maryland businesses, to incentivize sustainability-initiatives and to share ideas and information so other companies can follow the lead of their peers.
Number three, we’re working on a number of different fronts to promote research, generation, and advancement of alternative energy in Maryland – which is helping to create jobs in the present and very importantly laying the groundwork for future job creation as these technologies progress.
We are the first state in our region, I do believe, to create a Clean Energy Center that is charged with the mission of fostering the creation of new green energy jobs, and transforming our energy economy by promoting innovation, supporting entrepreneurship, and moving forward toward the creation and adoption of more consumer-based products and services that will promote clean and renewable energy in Maryland.
On another front, we are among the first states in the nation to team with county, university, and municipal partners to use our pooled market power to jumpstart large-scale, commercial renewable energy projects. To this end, together with Montgomery County government, the University System of Maryland, and the City of Baltimore we’re offering clean energy suppliers long term contracts in exchange for building clean, renewable energy plants in the State of Maryland.
And what’s more, several of our Administration’s green initiatives have served a dual purpose of promoting sustainability while increasing demand for green-collar jobs.
Through what we call EmPOWER Maryland, we’ve set some of the most aggressive goals in the nation to reduce energy consumption by 15% by 2015. Moreover, we’ve raised our renewable energy portfolio standard to 20% by 2022 and created a “solar carve out” requirement to require a portion to be secured from solar generation. We’ve also created incentives for homeowners and businesses to utilize green energy. We’ve made energy audits available to every Maryland family to help them figure out the steps they can take in their own homes to reduce consumption and save on energy bills in these tough times. And we’ve set new green building requirements for all of our public buildings and all of our public schools.
Complementing these efforts is an initiative we call Smart, Green and Growing – Smart, Green, and Growing is designed to help awaken in the consciousness in our State, in our neighbors, our citizens, a renewed sense that we can choose through our own actions in the here and now to build a more sustainable future that all of us would prefer for our kids and our grandkids.
We are reaching out especially to younger Marylanders, the hope of the future. It has been my experience as the Mayor of the City of Baltimore and now as Governor, if you want to get to the adults, you get to the kids. How many of you were taught your computer skills by your children and grandchildren? We’re reaching out to younger Marylanders in the hopes that by fostering a deeper connection with nature, we can inspire more of our young people to seek out green sector positions when they enter the workforce. It might even inspire more and more to sign up for the rigorous courses, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, where they know they can make a difference for themselves and for others. Through Maryland's Partnership for Children in Nature we are working to promote the well-being of youth by accelerating environmental learning in our schools and expanding opportunities for outdoor experiences for every Maryland child, partnering with National Geographic and Field Scope.
And through our Civic Justice Corps, we’re providing at-risk youth with the opportunity to connect with our natural world, developing the skills that will prepare them to contribute to an increasingly green economy and also instilling in them not only the value of public service, but hopefully restoring their own soul by being out and in the beauty that is God’s planet.
Number four, we’re working to provide our existing workforce and future graduates with the requisite skills for green-collar jobs. As I mentioned, we are blessed with one of the most highly skilled workforces in the United States of America – it’s not by accident, we have the best public school system in America, and Forbes says we have one of the top three most highly skilled workforces in America, we are also making record investments in K-12 education and school construction – even in difficult economic times – and we have frozen at a zero percent increase – and hope to do it again for the fourth year in a row – zero percent increase in college tuition at University of Maryland schools
We’re also putting renewed emphasis on the teaching and learning of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, and it’s our belief that the STEM disciplines go hand in glove with the renewed commitment of CTE – Career Technology Education – if learning is truly something that is lifelong, if we know that we are constantly going to have to upgrade our skills, then we sure as heck better give all our children a decent shot at actually having a job when they come out of high school so that they can continue to become part of an ever more innovative and highly skilled workforce throughout their adult years.
We’ve also begun assisting several companies with trainings and through our Energy Administration we’ve trained 110 energy efficiency auditors and full-service contractors to conduct the audits.
In addition, we’re partnering with those of you in the organized labor community to implement green skills training into apprenticeship programs. In fact, just last week, about 18 leaders of our labor organizations in the State of Maryland came together around the same table in the Governor’s mansion and we talked about “How do we make real, this promise of green jobs? What are the steps that we need to take?”
We’re also working with our Community Colleges, which have some of the most nimble and effective administrators anywhere in the country -- those men and women that run the community colleges of the State of Maryland. Frederick Community College, for example, will be adding courses to its Building Trades curricula which will provide graduates with solar and geothermal technology skills. Anne Arundel Community College is establishing an Associates Degree program in green technology.
Finally, we are relentlessly measuring performance to share information, to track our progress, and when necessary to adjust tactics and strategies in pursuit of our goals, to and to redeploy resources. Later this year we plan to launch what we call the “Maryland Index of Sustainable Prosperity.” Why? Because we believe a core set of principles are essential to the pursuit of progress: setting goals, measuring performance, adjusting tactics and strategies, doing what Robert Kennedy referred to as that “rational application of human effort to human problems.”
When I was in high school, I was taught a very important lesson. I was taught a lot of things by the Jesuits, but this is one of those things that actually stuck with me, Arnold Toynbee’s theory of the progress of man. Which goes like this: “men and women as a society and as individuals, progress in response to adversity.” That we progress in response to adversity. “Where the adversity is too great, civilization either dies or moves away. Where it’s too little, civilization stagnates, rests back on its laurels, atrophies. Where you have the right combination of adversity and the rational application of human effort, you have progress.”
Well, we’ve got our fair share of adversity right now, but you know what? We also have the ability as no other group of people formed into a country have had before, of being able to apply human effort, science, technology, the diversity of talented people that have come from all over the globe because of that hope and that promise that America has always been, and that we continue to be.
There is a beautiful Native American proverb which states “How we treat one another is reflected in how we treat the earth.” How we treat one another is reflected in how we treat the earth. I believe that the corollary to that is that we can usher in a new era in the manner in which we treat one another, and also improve the manner in which we treat the earth, to create a new tomorrow, to work today for that better tomorrow. Which I submit to you is the greatest privilege we have in the title that all of us proudly hold, of American citizens.
Thanks very much.