Philadelphia gets serious about the environment

May 4, 2009 7:07:15 AM PDT
Officials want the city to become the greenest in the nation by 2015.

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Mayor Michael Nutter was greeted with cheers as he unveiled the ambitious plan today. It is called Greenworks Philadelphia.

"Whether you have a G.E.D. or a Ph.D., we will have a green job opportunity for you in Philadelphia," said the mayor. "Greenworks isn't just about carbon reduction. It's also about poverty reduction."

People are already training to fill the 15,000 jobs that it will take to make the city green.

Greenworks goals include:

*weatherizing aging homes for poor families;

*planting 300,000 new trees;

*making locally grown food more accessible;

*creating more park & recreation spaces; and

*reducing city government's energy use by 30%, for saving of $36 million a year.

Environmental author Van Jones calls it a dream come true.

"My dream," he said, "is about having a green economy and having poor people with good jobs, a paycheck and purpose, fighting pollution and poverty at the same time."

Cash from cost-cutting energy savings will help fund some Greenworks projects. Millions will come from federal stimulus money and dollars that are earmarked for local environmental work. The prospect excites some Philadelphians.

"The idea of using people who maybe don't have a job and training them to put in storm windows, more energy efficient windows and systems is a great idea," said Mark Alexander of South Philadelphia.

Vanette Jordan of North Philadelphia said she is excited about "the thought of not just green collar job training which is important and worth working for, but changing the way people think."

The mayor acknowledges that paving a green road to the future will not be easy. But he is determined that Philadelphia will be first to show the nation what a successful green city looks like.

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