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Van Jones rejoins American Progress to lead Green Opportunity initiative

By Joe Romm  

"Van Jones rejoins American Progress to lead Green Opportunity initiative"

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I have long been a fan of Van Jones (see “Van Jones and the English Language).  I was delighted when the President picked him to be green jobs adviser last March.

The agenda of the people who smeared him is a matter of public record “” see Fox News blurts out its agenda: “Now that Jones has resigned, we need to follow through”¦. First, stop cap-and-trade, which could send these groups trillions,” and then put “the whole corrupt ‘green jobs’ concept outside the bounds of the political mainstream.”

So I’m delighted to report that, “Today the Center for American Progress announced that Van Jones is rejoining the center as a Senior Fellow and leader of the Green Opportunity Initiative, a new CAP project,” as a CAP press release explains.  Here’s the rest of the PR, followed by WashPost interview:

“We are thrilled that Van Jones is joining us to spearhead a ‘green opportunity’ agenda to develop the policies and strategies that will ensure the clean-energy future brings not just climate stability and energy security, but also broadly shared economic prosperity,” said Kate Gordon, Vice President for Energy Policy at CAP.

In this role, he will work in close coordination with CAP’s existing Energy Opportunity team to develop a clearly articulated agenda for expanding investment, innovation, and opportunity through clean energy and environmental restorationŽ¯especially for low-income and minority communities. Van will guide CAP in its efforts to advocate for rebuilding the American economy and creating millions of jobs through new investments in clean-energy technologies.

“Van is a pioneer in the effort to promote a clean, sustainable economy that works for all Americans,” said John Podesta, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress. “I’m proud that he’s coming back to CAP to focus on creating economic opportunity in distressed communities through the Green Opportunity Initiative and that he will be giving voice to those issues once again.”

From March to September 2009, Van worked as the special advisor for green jobs at the White House Council for Environmental Quality. In that position, he developed policy recommendations to help implement the Obama administration’s commitment to clean-energy jobs and pioneered the administration’s policy approach to making America’s homes more energy efficient. He is the New York Times bestselling author of The Green-Collar Economy, the definitive book on green jobs. Van is also the founder of Green For All, the national organization working to get green jobs to disadvantaged communities.

Van was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2009. He received his bachelor of science degree from The University of Tennessee at Martin in 1990, and his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1993.

Here are excerpts from his Post interview Tuesday:

Van JonesOn his past as a left-leaning environmental activist:

I am probably the biggest champion of free market solutions for America’s problems, period… I understand these problems well enough to understand the only way we’re going to be able to solve them is by unleashing innovation and entrepreneurship and market-based forces.

The journey that I took to get to these positions had a lot of stages and phases in it. I understand that they would raise some eyebrows for people who were trying to figure out who this president is, and who I am, and I accept that. When you step forward and try to show leadership, then to some extent, everything’s fair game.
I don’t have any bitterness or anger about the situation. The good thing about being an American is you’re free to think whatever you want, and you’re also free to change your mind. That’s my story..

On how he views his future role in American politics:

God willing I’ve got ten or twenty years, thirty years, three decades more work to do. And it’s my hope and belief that people will judge me based on that work. And that work is about fighting for American jobs, and fighting for people who aren’t likely to get jobs, to be able to have the dignity of work.

A lot of people in American politics have had interesting political journeys and come to a place that is useful to the country, and I think I’m one of those people.
I’m getting back engaged because we have this huge jobs crisis, people are pulling their hair out saying, ‘What can we do?” and I think I can make a contribution. We do not need to have this unemployment rate the way it is.

On his one-year upcoming stint at Princeton’s Center for African American Studies and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs:

My main area of focus will be economic opportunity for the disadvantaged in this whole green economy. To me, that’s where we have the most work to do, and the most opportunity to do good work.

The movement around the environment and clean energy is at a very different inflection point, where we’re no longer just thinking about the trees and the birds. We’re thinking about deep economic questions, and what we don’t have a full grasp on is all the policy tools we’re going to need to repower the country and to make sure we don’t lose out to Asia and the jobs of the future, and to make sure places like Appalachia and Watts have a chance to be part of it.

On the prospects for a climate and energy bill:

I have a lot of confidence in the wisdom of people like [South Carolina GOP Senator] Lindsey Graham, Senator Graham, and others, who don’t want to see America lose out on the jobs that we will lose out on if we don’t have smart climate and energy policy. I primarily look at smart climate and energy policy a solution to the jobs crisis. I don’t think that either political party is going to be happy to cede the jobs of tomorrow to, at this point, Asia. The only way to have to jobs of tomorrow is to produce the products of tomorrow.

I think right now there’s a lot of uncertainty and I would say volatility in the American public because we have tough problems that haven’t been solved.

When the food fight is over, there’s one spot of clean common ground in American politics and that is the need for us to be leading on energy, clean energy, and for us as a country to be more secure with all those jobs.

When all’s said and done, that is going to be the common ground. I’m confident we’re going to get there because I don’t think America is going to be willing to pass this one up. I think at the end of the day, common sense will prevail, and the common ground will be in the direction of clean energy.

What would you say to people who were offended by the fact that you signed a petition suggesting the US government was behind the Sept. 11 attacks?

I learned a tough lesson on that one. First of all, I believe that 911 was a conspiracy — by Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. And nobody else. Period. That’s what I have always believed. What happened with me was that a group came up to me at a conference six years ago. They said they represented 911 families and wanted me to help them. I said, “Sure! Happy to help!”

Unfortunately, I didn’t know what their agenda was. So then they went and added my name, without my knowledge, to this awful, abhorrent language they had on their Web site — which I never saw, which they never showed me, and which I don’t believe in. I never saw the Web site, didn’t know it was there. And so my name just sat there on this obscure little Web site, for years and years, until someone discovered it. Then it became a huge scandal, with everyone saying I “signed” this awful petition. At first I was confused, thinking, “Did I sign something crazy at some point, without reading it carefully?” But it turns out that I never signed anything. I just gave them verbal encouragement, and they ran with it.

That said, I take responsibility for not having been more diligent in doing my homework before offering support of any kind. That was a big mistake. You just can’t do that. If you are going to be a leader and a public servant, you have to be more careful than that. So I accept the responsibility for the outcome.

‹ Why the NYT’s criticism of DOE’s weatherization program misses the point

My response to Dr. Judith Curry’s unconstructive essay ›

12 Responses to Van Jones rejoins American Progress to lead Green Opportunity initiative

  1. Hesitant Liberal says:

    Hopefully his drop from grace has taught this community organizer some humility. Good to have him back on the team.

  2. Richard Brenne says:

    Van Jones rocks! Congratulations to Van, CAP and all! Everyone should have a job of some kind, while collecting unemployment, welfare, whatever.

  3. SL says:

    This is beyond exciting. He is an innovative thinker and we need more creativity in policy and politics these days.

  4. Tim L. says:

    Great news!

  5. Rick Covert says:

    Van Jones, WELCOME BACK!

    You should have never been given the boot. OK, you weren’t given the boot but the President’s staff ‘dissed you big time just because some blithering idiot with an old drug habit and without the benefit of rehab called you some names on his TV show. What a pathetic state our politics has become when some drug addicted lunatic can chase you out of a position where you could done so much to build this new green economy. I’m looking forward to the green, renewable energy future.

  6. Wit's End says:

    Van Jones, you have been sorely missed. You have a very significant role to play!

  7. Jackson says:

    Van Jones, know that your leadership of our Green Jobs Corps. is sorely needed and appreciated. We look forward to building the new economy with you.

  8. Ted says:

    See NYCCAN.org where their names are posted.

    Bill Doyle, Father of Joey Doyle and leading 9/11 family advocate:

    “We have two planes fly into the towers and all of a sudden they get blown up within an hour and a half – that’s impossible.”

    Q: “With your 7,000 members, I’m sure you’ve talked to most if not all of them. Run the gamut, what percentage, a guesstimation, would you say believe 9/11 is an inside job, to some extent?”

    Bill Doyle: “Maybe half, maybe. It’s probably 50-50.”

  9. Alex 77 says:

    Joe –

    I commend you for stepping up to celebrate Van Jones’s return, and in turn attaching your good name and reputation to this fine man who was falsely smeared.

  10. If I were religious, or lived long ago, I would conclude This is Sign from Above!
    Now, my view is that we now have a better chance to deal with present, immediate future and long term global problems including Global Warming.
    1. The new Green Economy and Technology requires worker’s pay to be competitive in the world market. Otherwise, we cannot compete with foreign goods made with cheap solar and wind energy and we begin the decline of the largest economy in the world, and the growth of Asia. We need ALL levels of workers but without Low Income Workers, only the top level prosper, for a while.
    2. California college student population is going down, teacher’s salaries are so high that State tuition is higher than some private Universities.
    3. Oil industry workers are losing jobs and those that depend on their income are also in trouble.
    In short, we need to focus, not only on the jobs at the top of the scale but at all levels. The larger base is the one that keeps the nation viable. All need to remember that for ten years, the top technical jobs have been reserved and filled by foreigners at the rate of 100,000 a year, each of them sponsored by a high-tech company.

    In sum, we have been undermining our industry but the Green Economy will be the new “New World” that gives us another chance. My hope, and prayers are with you, Van Jones! May God and The Force be with you!

  11. One more item, if I may….
    It was the Federal Transportation Admin that stopped a $500 Million project that would make the worst WPA project in The Great Depression look like a marvel of technology and efficiency.
    This wasteful local project would use $300 Million in bank loans that will later lead to higher fares that impact the most the Low Income Workers that keep the SF Bay Area airports viable and most other jobs.

    Even worse, the 3-mile elevated tram would put out of work those in the two bus lines that serve the airport from many locations, which may be the doom of the few airlines left (they lost 5 airlines and two thirds its traffic in the last eight years).
    The part that seems incomprehensible is that, at best, two minutes in travel time might, or not, be saved by travelers arriving one hour before departure time for Security Check. Unbelievable! Evidently, “they” only use private jets.
    The Contra Costa Times informed us that $70 Million will now go to help restore bus services that will make it possible for job seekers to reach most of the Bay Area, apply for many jobs and, later, be able to commute to work without use of a car. The Ultimate in the Green World.

  12. Mac says:

    He’ll be more effective outside the beltway.