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Tsongas, Keating, and Grijalva introduce legislation supporting American energy jobs

Tsongas, Keating, and Grijalva introduce legislation supporting American energy jobs

WASHINGTON – March 14, 2018 – Today, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Congressman Bill Keating (D-MA), and Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) introduced the Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act, legislation to educate and train a new generation of American offshore wind workers. 

The new federal grant program created by this legislation will assist colleges and universities, state and local governments, unions, and nonprofits develop curricula, internships, health and safety programs, and other activities deemed appropriate by the Secretaries of Energy, Labor, Interior, and Education to develop an offshore wind workforce. The bill prioritizes grants to community colleges, organizations that service minority populations, and those helping workers from other industries transition to the offshore wind industry.

Congresswoman Tsongas said:“Our nation is in the midst of a clean energy revolution. More and more of our electricity is being generated by renewable energy and clean energy jobs in Massachusetts have grown by 81% since 2010. Massachusetts was among the first states to participate in federal offshore wind lease sales and the industry offers tremendous opportunities for home-grown energy production and job creation across the entire Commonwealth. Our legislation helps ensure that local workers are fully trained and ready to pave the way for growth and innovation in this rapidly growing clean energy industry.”

Congressman Keating said:  “Despite this Administration’s attacks on clean energy, there are plenty of hard-working Americans who are ready, willing, and able to train in the wind industry. And many of them are in my District.  We are proud in Southeastern Massachusetts to have one of the first off-shore wind energy sites and we are even prouder that the jobs created here will benefit many industries and many communities.  Our region welcomes offshore wind and its proven track record of creating long-term, high-paying jobs and this legislation will help us meet our goal of ensuring that we have a well-trained, local workforce ready on day one.”

Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee Raúl Grijalva said:  “We need to focus our efforts on clean power instead of dirty fossil fuels, and that’s what this bill does. The American people already want renewable energy and don’t trust Big Oil to do the right thing for the environment. Wind power is a huge part of building the cleaner, more sustainable economy we all deserve, and it can play an even bigger role with the right support.”

The Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act is endorsed by a number of national and Massachusetts-based offshore wind energy experts:

Mike Langford, National President, Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO

“The UWUA applauds the introduction of the Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act, recognizing the bright future of off-shore wind energy production along the Eastern seaboard, and around the world. By equally supporting a wide variety of workforce development strategies targeted at this growing energy sector, including union training and apprenticeship programs, this bill points the way to a future of high-quality, middle-class jobs in off-shore wind.  Emerging energy technologies will continue to grow and, more than ever, our nation needs the leadership shown by this bill to build the worker and community-supporting clean energy economy of tomorrow.”

Christopher Niezrecki, Ph.D., Director, Center for Wind Energy, University of Massachusetts Lowell

“The proposed legislation to establish an offshore wind career training grant program will help the U.S. offshore wind industry address the immediate need for trained workers during the first phase of deployment.  The bill will help ensure the U.S. is well positioned to be a leader of a robust offshore wind energy industry.”

Paul Vigeant, Managing Director, New Bedford Wind Energy Center

“America is on the cusp of creating a new base industry in offshore wind. These are well-paying jobs here in the US and we need a trained workforce to successfully capture this unique opportunity. Resources to train a new workforce are critical to make that a reality.”

Rick Kidder, President and CEO, South Coast Chamber of Commerce

"The city of New Bedford was once known as the city that lit the world in whaling days, and now through our partners at Bristol Community College's Offshore Wind Center and intelligent legislation that is bringing new industry to our region, we can be so again. We are grateful to Congresswoman Tsongas and our own Congressman Bill Keating for their forward looking legislation to support alternative energy training through Bristol Community College for our community and region."

Massachusetts Senate President Pro Tempore Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton), founding chair of the Massachusetts State Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change

“We must educate, train and prepare our workforce for a true clean energy future. Offshore wind is a multibillion-dollar industry right within our grasp, one that will bolster our economy and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. As a legislator in the coastal state of Massachusetts, I understand the benefits that offshore wind provides for my state and, indeed, the rest of the country. Our workforce must be prepared to meet the needs of this supply chain. I commend Congressman Keating for his federal leadership on legislation that will help protect our economy, environment and public health.”

Kim Glass, Executive Director, BlueGreen Alliance

“The offshore wind industry holds great potential for creating quality, family-sustaining jobs while producing clean, renewable energy. The nation’s first offshore wind farm in Block Island, Rhode Island, alone put 300 people to work. As more wind farms spring up off America’s coasts, demand for the highly skilled workers needed to complete these innovative projects will grow as well. Rep. Tsongas’ Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act will play a significant role in providing the skills needed for workers to break into this growing field.”

Nancy Sopko, Director, Offshore Wind, American Wind Energy Association

“This bill will help launch a new generation of American job seekers into highly skilled careers. We can repeat the success of the land-based wind industry, now supporting more than 100,000 American jobs, by ensuring the U.S. workforce stands ready to harness this new ocean energy resource.”

Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation

“Offshore wind energy presents a tremendous opportunity for America to make our energy supply cleaner, more wildlife-friendly, and more secure. Investments like those driven by the Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act are vital for making offshore wind energy a reality for America and ensuring that good-paying jobs are created in the process.

United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard

“We cannot overstate the value that investing in clean and renewable energy has the potential to bring to the U.S. economy. We can create thousands of family-supporting, community-sustaining manufacturing jobs in America by addressing the causes of global climate change with urgency.”

Michael Brune, Executive Director of Sierra Club

”We applaud Rep. Niki Tsongas for her leadership on this bill, which is vital to bringing offshore wind energy development to the United States. Offshore wind energy already provides affordable clean energy around the world. Expanding offshore wind energy in the United States will not only cement our country's leadership as a clean energy leader, but provide living wage jobs, protections against fossil fuel pollution, and help dozens of coastal cities meet their climate commitments. It’s a cutting edge industry that belongs in the United States and we congratulate everyone involved in the process to make this bill possible."

From David W. Fenton, Business Manager & Financial Secretary IBEW Local 223

“International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 223 looks forward to the upcoming job opportunities in the off shore wind industry.  We applaud Congresswoman Tsongas and Congressman Keating with this offshore wind career training grant program bill.  This bill will allow the citizens of Southeastern Massachusetts the opportunity to begin the process of working in the off shore wind industry.  IBEW Local 223 members have already worked on land based wind turbines and realizes that training for off shore wind projects is needed for this new industry in the United State.  We thank Mr. Keating and Ms. Tsongas for trying to jump start the off shore training programs needed for the region.”

David Holt, Consumer Energy Alliance

“Consumer Energy Alliance is a nationwide grassroots organization that supports policies ensuring affordable, abundant and reliable domestic energy supplies. With nearly 300 affiliates and over 500,000 members nationwide, we are committed to supporting an all-of-the-above energy policy that includes all forms and sources of energy. Workforce development and STEM education have long been high priorities for Consumer Energy Alliance and its affiliate members. H.R. 5291 the Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act will authorize the resources necessary to educate and train individuals for employment in the offshore wind industry. The development of education and workforce programs such as the one included in this bill will help enable a new generation of workers to meet the challenges and realize the benefits associated with the development of American energy. Education and training will benefit workers seeking well-paying jobs, and the resources harnessed will benefit families and small business throughout our country."