The name is the Apollo Project. And no, it’s not about Bush’s trip to Mars. It’s about jobs and cleaner energy.

The name takes its inspiration from President John F. Kennedy’s Apollo space program, though. That’s because, according to the Apollo Alliance – a coalition of trade unions, environmental and business groups, urban and faith-based communities – Kennedy’s plan was “big, bold and fast,” which is what’s needed for the creation of U.S. jobs and renewable energy.

Apollo’s 10-point program for “goodjobs and energy independence” is like a breath of fresh, clean air in an age fraught with the destruction of millions of manufacturing jobs, wars for oil, and environmental degradation.

Seventeen international unions, representing 10 million workers, have endorsed the project. It calls on the government to invest $300 billion over 10 years in renewable energy development and the “greening” of factories, buildings, cars and transportation with higher energy efficiency. Through this massive public works initiative, the Alliance says over 3 million jobs will be created.

According to a new report by the University of California at Berkeley, investing in renewable energy sources creates more jobs than spending on coal, gas and petroleum exploration. It also helps to stem the alarming changes in our environment, including global warming.

Report co-author Daniel Kammen, a professor in the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley, said “three to 10 times the number of jobs” could be created by investing in renewable energy, such as wind and solar, instead of fossil fuels.

Writing in the Cincinnati Enquirer, Machinist Union president Tom Buffenbarger said, “For workers in states like Ohio [which has lost over 150,000 manufacturing jobs] the Alliance’s plan holds special promise.”

For example, he wrote, most workers who had been employed at GE’s Evendale plant have skills and training that could easily be adapted to producing high-performance wind turbines, fuel cells and other advanced energy technologies.”

With unemployment skyrocketing, jobs creation is a major presidential campaign issue that cuts across many lines – race, gender, blue, white and pink collars.

“People are working three jobs to make ends meet,” Larry Fauver, Youngstown AFL-CIO president, told the World. “Minimum wage jobs are what’s created. Nothing is being done to stop the job loss and create good-paying jobs here.”

Fauver told the story of a federal building built in downtown Youngstown with imported steel. Youngstown and the surrounding area were legendary for steelmaking until the devastating plant closings in the ’70s and ’80s and the present-day steel company bankruptcies. “A federal building! They slapped a tariff on, but that didn’t create any jobs,” Fauver said.

The Republican’s recent energy bill and Vice President Cheney’s intimate links to the energy industry more than suggest this administration is not interested in “clean” energy. The GOP’s energy bill gives more than two-thirds of its $23 billion in tax breaks to the coal, oil and gas industries. The Apollo Alliance calls for investment that will provide clean energy jobs for workers in the coal and oil industries.

Jobs and the environment are major presidential election issues. The Apollo Project brings the two together. Currently, Sen. John Kerry is campaigning on ending tax subsidies for corporations that send jobs to lower-wage countries. Fauver said Kerry was just in town campaigning for jobs and the all-important Ohio vote. Ohio is a “battleground” state, narrowly going to Bush in the 2000 election.

“The mood was upbeat. Kerry said things can’t turn around in one day. But with a change in the administration he can close tax subsidies for corporations that take jobs overseas,” he said.

Bush is campaigning on his tax cuts to the rich, falsely claiming they will create millions of jobs. What Bush’s tax cuts have done is balloon the deficit without creating the good-paying jobs that are needed.

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the nation’s infrastructure, which includes energy grids and public schools, rates a D+ and will need over $1 trillion dollars in investment over the next 10 years to be brought up to an “adequate” level. The Apollo Project seems like a good start.

Terrie Albano is editor of the People’s Weekly World. She can be reached at talbano@pww.org.

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