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Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks at the Green the Block Event at the White House, As Prepared

08/04/2009
Read the blog and see photos from this event.

As prepared for delivery.

I want to thank the Hip Hop Caucus and Green for All for spearheading this work.

It’s inspiring to stand with people who have given so much and worked so hard to make things better in their community. That’s extremely important on any day. But in days like these, it’s absolutely critical.

I grew up in the 9th Ward of New Orleans. I know that what’s happening to the national economy comes down even harder on the inner city. We have work to do to strengthen the foundations for prosperity in every community, and Green the Block has a role to play in that.

That’s because environmental challenges in our neighborhoods hold back economic growth. Poison in the ground means poison in the economy. A weak environment means a weak consumer base. And unhealthy air means an unhealthy atmosphere for investments. But restoring and preserving the environment in our communities is a way to create new opportunities.

In case after case, the things that make good environmental sense also make good economic sense. It’s good economic sense to make our neighborhoods healthier places to live and better places to set up a business. It’s good economic sense to cut the pollution that makes employees call-in sick, or causes them to stay at home with a sick child. It’s good economic sense to fix those problems by training someone in the community for a good paying job cleaning up their neighborhood.

When we put the environmental green on the block, we also put a lot more of that economic green on the block.

We want to do both.

I’m proud to announce today an award of more than $61 million to train local workers and fund projects to clean up brownfields sites – unsafe, contaminated sites that can be restored and reused for economic growth. What that means on the block is that people will have a chance to get training for a good job in their community. It means that the local residents will see their neighborhoods improve as dangerously polluted industrial lots get cleaned up and prepared for new development. The cleanup process puts people to work. And once that process is complete, the sites themselves can be put back to work.

They can become the homes to new business. They can be transformed into a park or a playground. Or they can be part of walkable communities that improve the health of the residents. Whatever shape the improvements take, the areas around them will be better places to live, and more attractive areas for businesses to bring their jobs.

We’re proud to be adding this to the many opportunities being created here today.

Let me close by saying how important it is that this effort reaches our young people. We’ve seen how much potential and power there is in the next generation. They elected a president – and they made it look easy. But with the economic challenges we face, we are in danger of leaving many of them behind.

That’s especially true of the young people in our inner city communities, where the already scarce opportunities have become even fewer. As we see the green jobs and clean energy economy growing, we have to show young people that they have a real stake in the debate. They have a chance to get those jobs, and to help rebuild their communities for their own future.

I’m proud to stand with Green the Block. I look forward to working with you as we rebuild our economy, create new jobs, and safeguard human health and the environment in every community.

Thank you very much.