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The Inaugural Middle Class Task Force Meeting on Green Jobs
March 17, 2009, Volume 55, No. 25

The University of Pennsylvania hosted the February 27 inaugural Middle Class Task Force Meeting, chaired by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. The town-hall meeting focused on Green Jobs as a Pathway to a Strong Middle Class. Penn was selected as the site because of the University’s leadership role in sustainability.

“At Penn, we recognize the impact of a research institution of our size and acknowledge that our management of utilities, construction, transit services and recycling extends beyond our campus and has global consequences,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann, who in 2007 was the first Ivy League president to sign the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (Almanac February 13, 2007).

As part of the Obama/Biden administration’s interest in reforming how the United States creates and consumes energy, the focus of the meeting, held in Irvine Auditorium, was on jobs that contribute to environmental quality improvements.

Vice President Biden and six cabinet secretaries and task force members heard from panelists in two afternoon sessions: Green Jobs: What Are They and How Can They Help The Middle Class? and Creating Green Opportunity: The Roles of Stakeholders.

Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter discussed the role of the commonwealth and the city in building a greener economy. Labor and business leaders addressed their roles in creating green jobs and training workers for those jobs.

Also participating were Pennsylvania’s US senators, Arlen Specter and Robert P. Casey Jr., and Philadelphia-area US House of Representatives members Chaka Fattah, Robert A. Brady and Patrick J. Murphy.

The task force is evaluating what investing in green jobs will mean for middle class families and is promoting the creation of green jobs. The task force heard from panelists who discussed what kinds of green jobs are available and how they can help the middle class, and the role of government, business and labor in creating these jobs.

During their visit to campus, Vice President Biden, the cabinet secretaries and task force members had a chance to see the innovative ways the University is conserving energy and creating green jobs by touring Penn’s operation command center in the Left Bank building. President Gutmann and Mayor Nutter hosted a reception following the panel discussions.

The federal officials who participated included Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Melody Barnes, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.

For more information see www.AStrongMiddleClass.gov.

Related: Penn's Green Institutional, Academic Initiatives Highlighted

Almanac - March 17, 2009, Volume 55, No. 25