Van Jones' New Book Shows Environmental Protection and Prosperity Go Hand-in-Hand

Polluting industries like to say that making the air safer to breathe and the water safer to drink is a threat to economic growth. But in his new book, Van Jones confirms once again how false the old “jobs versus the environment” argument is. Instead, we can create jobs FOR the environment.

“We seem to forget that everything that is good for the environment is a job,” Jones writes in Rebuild the Dream.

Solar panels don’t put themselves up. Wind turbines don’t manufacture themselves. Houses don’t retrofit themselves and put in their own new boilers and furnaces and better-fitting windows and doors...Every single thing that is good for the environment is actually a job, a contract, or an entrepreneurial opportunity.

The facts are on Jones’ side. The solar industry employs more than 100,000 Americans, and its engineers are pioneering the next generation of clean technology. The wind industry generates 85,000 jobs, and there are more wind workers than coal miners in the United States.  And more than 150,000 Americans have jobs assembling clean cars—hybrids, electric cars, and other advanced vehicles that weren’t available 10 years ago.

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This is only the beginning. In the past few years, many states have passed renewable energy standards that require utilities to generate a portion of their power from clean sources like wind and solar. Goldman Sachs estimates that these standards will unleash an investment of $200 billion in new capacity over the next 10 years.

That means a lot more jobs and a lot more economic growth in communities across the country. And that’s why Jones says members of all political parties should embrace clean energy. From liberals to conservatives, from young graduates to seasoned business leaders, and from urban property owners to farmers and ranchers, Americans from all walks of life stand to gain from the clean energy economy.

I have known Van for several years. We met when he was advocating for clean energy jobs in urban communities like Oakland, California. Since then, he has served in the Obama administration as a green jobs advisor and launched Rebuild the Dream, a bottom-up movement calling for a sustainable economy, more jobs, accountability for Wall Street, and pathways to prosperity for more Americans. He also serves on the board of trustees for NRDC.

One of the things I admire most about Van is his ability to offer both insightful critiques of the status quo and inspiring plans for positive change. His latest book, Rebuild the Dream, not only reflects on his time in the White House, the rise of the Tea Party, and the emergence of the Occupy Movement, but it also lays out a concrete vision for creating millions of good-paying jobs that can deliver a cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous future for our nation.

Rebuild the Dream is an important and rousing book by one of America’s leading champions of the clean economy. Everyone will be inspired by this book, but I especially hope our elected officials read it and learn from it.