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Biden hails green jobs; Sierra Club opposes energy bill

"Biden hails green jobs; Sierra Club opposes energy billBy Reid Wilson via The Hill)Vice President Biden on Wednesday reiterated the Obama administration's
commitment to building the nation's renewable-energy capacity, an effort he
says will create thousands of new jobs.""We're not just looking for jobs, we're looking for decent jobs,"" Biden
told business and environmental leaders gathered on Capitol Hill. ""These
are the kind of jobs that allow people to get to the middle class.""Delivering remarks at a green jobs summit held by the Senate Democratic
Steering and Outreach Committee, Biden cited studies showing green-collar
jobs pay 10 to 20 percent more than ""traditional"" jobs and noted jobs
installing and creating new energy-efficient buildings cannot be outsourced
overseas.But the Obama administration's early relationship with environmental groups
has not been smooth. Groups that spent millions to help Obama get elected
have been disappointed with some decisions the Interior Department has
made, including de-listing a threatened species of wolf in the Northern
Rockies and allowing some expansion in offshore drilling.The same day Biden made his remarks, a key environmental group announced it
would oppose energy legislation that passed a Senate committee, calling it
watered down beyond acceptable levels.The energy bill ""needs to be significantly strengthened as it moves to the
Senate floor, where we believe there is majority support for considerably
stronger clean-energy policies,"" said Sierra Club Executive Director Carl
Pope in a statement announcing the group's opposition to the bill.The vice president highlighted the administration's new spending on
high-speed rail lines, which will amount to $8 billion allocated in the
economic stimulus plan. Biden also pointed to wind farms as a source for
new jobs, especially those established off the East Coast.Biden, who once fought with his home state to install wind farms off the
coast, said attitudes have changed as governors up and down the coast look
for job-creating initiatives.""I got every governor on the East Coast calling me and saying, 'Joe,
windmills, windmills, windmill farms,'"" Biden said. The stimulus package
alone, he said, would allow the U.S. to double its renewable-energy
capacity in three years.Introducing Biden, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) cast the push
for green jobs as a revolution aimed at changing the fundamental nature of
the economy.""Today, we're firing the first shots of a clean-energy revolution,"" Reid
said. ""We already have the tools at our fingertips to create green jobs. We
already have the cutting-edge technology and Americans' ingenuity.""""We're on the edge of a big shift, a shift we need to make to meet these
challenges, a shift to a clean economy,"" Biden added. ""It's not just the
jobs being created, but the impact on the environment is going to be
staggering if, we in fact, if this is leveraged into us finally having a
21st-century transportation system in America. And from it will flow new
technology.""Reid reiterated his commitment to passing global warming legislation this
year, while Biden promised business leaders they would have a partner in
the White House as they make their push.A spokeswoman in Reid's office said the majority leader plans to bring the
energy bill up later this year, though it will likely come up after the
August recess.The summit came the same day the Senate Energy and Natural Resources
Committee passed the upper chamber's version of energy legislation by a
15-8 margin. But despite widespread buy-in to the summit from the
environmental community, some pro-environmental groups are not thrilled
with the legislation.The Sierra Club said the bill's Renewable Energy Standard falls short. The
group also criticized provisions allowing the government to purchase liquid
coal and tar sands oil, and allowing more offshore drilling.""While it makes positive strides in setting new ener"