On February 22, 2019, Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL-1) Introduced the Blue Collar to Green Collar Jobs Development Act of 2019 in the House. The bill directs the Department of Energy, through a reauthorized and renamed Office of Economic Impact, Diversity and Employment (formerly the Office of Minority Economic Impact) to establish and carry out a national program to improve education and training for jobs in energy related industries, including manufacturing, engineering, construction and retrofitting jobs.
The program would provide direct financial and technical assistance to educational institutions, workforce development boards, nonprofits, and apprenticeship programs so that they may develop and implement training programs for energy related jobs. In carrying out this program, DOE is directed to collaborate with the Departments of Education, Commerce and Labor and the National Science Foundation to develop best practices for the educational institutions and organizations to use in carrying out their training programs. The guidelines are to help workers develop the skills necessary to work across a range of energy industries, from energy efficiency, renewable energy and community energy resilience, to energy-related manufacturing, utilities, oil and gas, and coal.
Subject to the availability of appropriations, DOE is also instructed to carry out a grant program that would enable certain businesses to pay energy-related workers while they receive training to work in renewable energy, energy efficiency, or grid modernization.
When he introduced the bill, Representative Rush stated that "As the energy sector changes to address climate change, it’s critically important that we not only invest in clean energy infrastructure, but also a diverse workforce that can build it.” This sentiment--and the bill he authored--addresses concerns that workers in traditional energy sectors, such as coal miners and those working in fossil-fueled power plants, will be adversely impacted when and if the US economy transitions away from dependence on fossil fuels. The bill has received support from electric power companies,
A hearing on the bill was held before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Energy on April 10, 2019, and, after a mark up, it was forwarded to the full House Energy and Commerce Committee on May 16, 2019.