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Globe Editorial

Green jobs: New messenger, same message

September 9, 2009

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Van Jones is gone, but the Obama administration should keeps the lights on in his office. The White House had tapped Jones, a Bay Area environmentalist, to push for jobs to protect the environment, particularly in cities desperate for employment. Jones resigned this week after his name turned up on a petition espousing a ridiculous conspiracy theory about the Sept. 11 attacks.

Even so, Jones’s mission of “greening the ghetto’’ remains a valuable one. The Center for American Progress this week estimated that energy efficiency programs being debated by Congress could create 120,000 jobs a year. Jones was the leading voice saying that men in inner cities could replace their guns with caulking guns and go from jail cells to putting solar cells on tops of homes.

There’s a reason Jones was one of Time magazine’s “environmental heroes’’ in 2008 and a lead speaker at Fortune magazine’s green conference this year. Just last month, Jones told the Washington Post that the search for ecological solutions often focuses on “space-age technology, way off in the future,’’ when blowing in insulation and replacing windows and furnaces are just as important. In his vision, grunt workers in the field of energy efficiency could grow into crew managers, and then owners and investors. It was a rare vision with a rare voice.

A new messenger is in order, but the message needs to be heard.

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