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That's what she said

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Van Jones Urges Boulder to Embrace the Green Collar Economy


By

At the 2011 PLAN-Boulder County Annual Dinner on March 2, Van Jones told a packed banquet hall at the Hotel Boulderado that the most dire threat facing America right now is not climate change, but increased diversity coupled with decreased prosperity. However, he hastened to add that diversity at all levels is not something the country should fear, but rather embrace and regard as a unique source of strength. He claimed that prosperity could be restored, at least in part, by expanding renewable energy industries.

Jones declared that coal mining now provides 80,000 jobs. While hailing coal miners as “heroes who keep our lights on,” he also predicted that the number of coal mining jobs will drop to 40,000 in the foreseeable future. In contrast, he contended that the solar energy industry now also provides 80,000 jobs, but that that number could be quintupled in the next few years. He also forecast that the number of jobs in the wind energy business could be quintupled in the near future. He commented that, unlike the oil and coal industries, the solar and wind industries do not cause oil spills or destroy mountain tops or valleys.  Jones called upon Americans to “look up into the sky,” not “down into a hole,” for their energy future.

Jones remarked that liberals need to assert their love of the United States as vigorously as do conservatives. He also implored liberals not to demonize or attack the right-wing, but to seek energetically areas of cooperation.

He praised the City of Boulder for its energy tax and climate action program. In contrast, he criticized the United States Congress for its unwillingness to curtail greenhouse gas emissions through either regulations, a cap-and-trade program, or a carbon tax, and observed that it has been “missing in action.” Jones also commended the city for its current efforts to obtain a much higher percentage of its electricity from renewable sources than Xcel has in the past provided.

Jones is a globally recognized, award-winning pioneer in human rights and the clean energy economy and the best selling author of the definitive book on green jobs, The Green-Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems. Although best known for his promotion of green jobs, Jones has spent nearly two decades as a civil rights activist, community organizer, and lawyer working to improve urban America. He is the co-founder of three successful, non-profit corporations: Color of Change, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and Green for All, the national organization working to increase green jobs in disadvantaged communities.

At the Annual Dinner the PLAN-Boulder County membership elected the current members of the Board of Directors and officers to a term of another year. The following awards were also made:

Boulder City Manager Jane Brautigam received the PLAN-Boulder Award for  extraordinary leadership in the city’s climate action program, evolving relationship with Xcel, the passage of the Utility Occupation Tax last fall, and the passage of the SmartRegs ordinance.

Allyn Feinberg, who has served on the Boulder City Council and numerous City of Boulder and non-profit boards, received the Jim Crain Award for her work over the years in advancing the causes of environmental preservation.

Clean Energy Action co-founder Leslie Glustom received the Gilbert White Award for her dedicated effort to use scientific information to alert the public to the dangers of natural hazards and a changing environment.

For the first time in recorded memory, PLAN-Boulder solicited sponsors for the Annual Dinner. Roche Colorado was the most generous sponsor. Namaste Solar and Independent Power Systems also provided major support. PLAN-Boulder is also grateful to Clean Energy Action, RenewablesYes.org, the Hotel Boulderado, the Boulder Book Store, Renewable Choice Energy, and a number of friends and board members for their financial assistance.

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