DOE initiatives launch as part of Clean Energy Investment Summit

Read the full story in Biomass Magazine.

The Department of Energy has announced several new and expanding initiatives as part of the administration’s Clean Energy Investment Summit, including the launch of a Clean Energy Impact Investment Center, which will work to make the department’s resources more readily available to the public, including to mission-driven investors.

Funding opp: Using Educational Networks to Increase Schools’ Adoption of Integrated Pest Management

Proposals due August 10, 2015
Download the full RFP.

The Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) is soliciting proposals from eligible parties for an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cooperative agreement to provide financial assistance to an eligible organization to provide education, training, resources, and technical assistance to increase Integrated Pest Management (IPM) implementation in kindergarten to 12th grade (K-12) public and tribal schools nationwide.

Biden promotes private sector clean energy investments

Read the full story in The Hill.

Private sector investors should do more to boost spending on clean energy technology, Vice President Joe Biden said on Tuesday.

The White House announced $4 billion in private sector pledges on Monday to support green technology and launched a new Department of Energy (DOE) program to facilitate research and development. Speaking at a White House clean energy summit, Biden said more needs to be done — from the government, but especially among private investors — to create new low-carbon energy technology.

Underfunding of Research Offers States an Economic Opportunity

Read the full story in Governing.

When trying to grow the economy, it’s really tempting for elected officials to spend the public’s money on things that have an immediate impact on jobs and wages. What better way to endear yourself to your constituents than to be the driving force behind a new shopping center or luxury hotel that not only brings jobs but also increases local spending? It’s certainly a lot sexier than spending money on research for some scientific mumbo-jumbo that most people haven’t heard of — especially when you can’t guarantee that research will yield any significant results.

It may be unsexy and it may be risky, but it also may be the best way for states and localities to drive innovation and economic growth. At least that’s the hunch of a growing number of think tank analysts. As the federal government spends less on research and development, they say, states could have a key role to play.

EPA Training Grants Create Job Opportunities Across the Country

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today the selection of 19 communities in 17 states and territories for approximately $3.6 million in Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) grants. Each grantee will receive up to $192,300 to operate environmental training programs to clean up Brownfields sites in economically distressed communities.

“EPA’s job training program advances economic development by creating job opportunities for workers to serve in their own communities,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “Many graduates—including ex-offenders and veterans– secure meaningful employment that protects the environment and promotes economic development in some of our neediest communities.”

On Friday, May 22, Assistant Administrator Stanislaus announced one of the EWDJT grants to St. Louis Community College to highlight the cross disciplinary environmental training EPA supports under the program. With the grant funding, St. Louis Community College plans to train 69 unemployed and underemployed individuals, and place 55 of those in full-time employment in the environmental field. Each student will receive 240 hours of core training in hazardous waste remediation; lead and asbestos abatement worker; mold remediation; lead renovator, repair, and painting; underground storage tank removal; stormwater management; and other advanced safety and ecosystem restoration coursework.

Participants who complete the training will earn 19 federal, state, or university certifications. St. Louis Community College is targeting underemployed and unemployed residents of the St. Louis metro area, including St. Louis City and County in Missouri and East St. Louis, Illinois. Recruitment efforts will focus on individuals living in areas affected by hazardous waste sites. Key partners include St. Louis Development Corporation, Eastern Missouri Laborers District Council, Connections to Success, St. Louis City and County Workforce Investment Boards, YouthBuild of St. Louis, among other environmental and community-based organizations.

The EWDJT program provides communities the flexibility to deliver training that meets the varying local labor market demands of the environmental sector in their communities. Graduates develop a broader set of skills that improves their ability to secure, not just short term contractual work, but full-time, sustainable employment in the environmental field. As a result of this funding, unemployed and under-employed individuals acquire training and certifications in a variety of environmental skills, such as: lead and asbestos abatement, Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response, environmental health and safety, wastewater treatment, stormwater management, brownfields assessment and cleanup, electronics recycling, Superfund site-specific cleanup, Freon removal, emergency response, oil spill cleanup, native plant re-vegetation, and integrated pest management. As a result of this training, some graduates of the EWDJT program secured employment in activities related to the response and cleanup of the World Trade Centers in New York following the attacks of September 11, Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Sandy, as well as the BP Oil Spill. Since the program’s inception in 1998, EPA has funded 256 job training grants exceeding $54 million. More than 13,900 individuals have completed training, and of those, more than 10,000 have secured employment in the environmental field with an average hourly starting wage of $14.18. This equates to a cumulative job placement rate of 72 percent.

The EWDJT program was developed in the 1990s, as a result of recommendations raised by environmental justice leaders suggesting that the EPA support environmental training to help benefit local residents, and from an EPA realization that often times local residents were not benefitting from local remediation and cleanup activities due to the lack of a locally trained workforce in their communities. Rather than filling local, environmental jobs with professionals from distant cities, these grants help to provide an opportunity for local, unemployed residents to secure careers that make a visible impact cleaning up their communities. Graduates of the program obtain employment within their communities, areas which may be affected by blight, economic disinvestment, and solid and hazardous waste sites.

These grants support training programs that recruit, train, and place unemployed and under-employed residents of waste-affected communities with the skills and certifications needed to secure employment in the environmental field. Projects are funded based on the comprehensiveness of the training curriculum, the likelihood that graduates will obtain employment, strong public-private partnerships, and diverse community-based organization and employer involvement.

EWDJT grants are awarded to a broad range of communities with multiple indicators of need, including communities affected by the closure of manufacturing facilities, communities affected by natural disasters, communities designated as Housing and Urban Development “Promise Zone Communities,” (http://www.hud.gov/promisezones) Economic Development Administration “Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership” designated communities (http://www.eda.gov/challenges/imcp), and HUD/Department of Transportation/EPA “Partnership for Sustainable Communities” (http://www.sustainablecommunities.gov) designated communities. The program also serves unemployed, dislocated workers who have lost their jobs as a result of manufacturing plant closures. By gaining training through the EWDJT program, these individuals have re-entered the workforce, and many have secured employment working at other manufacturing facilities throughout the U.S. Some graduates have also participated in the cleanup and remediation of former manufacturing and auto plants, such as the cleanup of the “Chevy in the Hole” site in Flint, Mich.
(http://www.epa.gov/region5/cleanup/chevyinthehole/index.html).

Grantees announced to receive funding today, include:

  • Zender Environmental Health and Research Group (Anchorage) Alaska
  • Fresno Area Workforce Investment Board, Calif.
  • City of Richmond, Calif.
  • Denver Indian Center, Inc., Colo.
  • West End Neighborhood House (Wilmington) Del.
  • Florida State College at Jacksonville, Fla.
  • OAI, Inc. (Chicago) Ill.
  • Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board (Lawrence) Mass.
  • St. Louis Community College, Mo.
  • CLIMB Community Development Corporation (Biloxi) Miss.
  • The Fortune Society, Inc. (Long Island City) N.Y.
  • Rose State College (Midwest City) Okla.
  • Oregon Tradeswomen (Portland) Ore.
  • PathStone Corporation, P.R.
  • Tarrant County College District, Texas
  • Great Lakes Community Conservation Corps (Racine) Wisc.
  • Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board, Wisc.
  • Coalfield Development Corporation (Wayne County) W.Va.
  • Groundwork Providence, R.I.

For more information on brownfields grants, including EWDJT grants, by state, please visit http://cfpub.epa.gov/bf_factsheets/index.cfm

For more information on EPA’s brownfields program, please visit http://www.epa.gov/brownfields

U.S. Department of Agriculture Announces $235 Million Available for Innovative New Conservation Partnerships

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced an investment of up to $235 million to improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability. The funding is being made available through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). This will be the second round of projects funded through RCPP. Pre-proposals are due July 8, 2015.

How to fight climate change: Invest in inner cities

Read the full story at Mother Nature Network.

BlocPower aims to be an online investing platform where individuals can earn a good return while financing energy-efficiency retrofits and solar power projects in distressed, inner city neighborhoods.