Rep. Frank M. Kratovil Jr. joined a panel of representatives from environmental organizations last week to discuss a shift toward clean energy, which he said could expand the job market and stimulate the economy.
About 100 residents gathered at Broadneck High School in Annapolis Wednesday night for a town hall meeting in which they questioned Kratovil, along with clean energy experts, about the benefits of switching to a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.
"Our region is filled with men and women who are dedicated to finding new technologies that promote environmental health," said Kratovil, a District 1 Democrat. "The purpose of meetings like tonight is so interested parties and citizens have the opportunity to work together to revitalize our economy and promote cleaner energy in Maryland."
Ben Goldstein, a research associate for the Center for American Progress who served on the panel, said the need for skilled labor to construct windmills and new electrical transmission systems and retrofit buildings would yield numerous jobs.
The stimulus bill signed into law last week, which Kratovil voted for, includes more than $30 billion for energy initiatives, including renewable electrical energy and advanced battery technology. The package provides $5 billion for weatherization assistance, which increases the energy efficiency of buildings with features such as better windows, roofing and pipe protection. Twenty percent of that money is to be used for job training.
Kratovil said the meeting served as the beginning of "an ongoing dialogue on how we can best protect our environment, reduce global warming, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and grow our American economy at the same time."
Justin Ready, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party, said government spending does not serve as a feasible long-term solution to unemployment rates.
"There's a disconnect between rhetoric of creating jobs and actually enacting policies that would allow businesses, especially small businesses, and entrepreneurs to create jobs," he said.