Illinois Greenpeace observed Earth Day by erecting six wind turbines on a bridge across Michigan Avenue in the “windy city” of Chicago. Nicole Granacki, Greenpeace Illinois field organizer, told the World the project “underscores the crucial role wind must play in cutting global warming pollution” while generating “millions of jobs.”

Granacki spoke to this reporter by cell phone as scores of people stopped to admire the turbines looming over a busy downtown Chicago street. “We’ve had a great response from people walking by,” she said. “They stop to take a look. We hope it stirs wide interest.”

She praised President Obama for including tens of billions of dollars in his economic stimulus package to create green jobs and provide incentives for conversion to green energy. She also cited a draft bill in the House by Reps. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) that would require coal-fired electric utility companies “to pay for their pollution and level the playing field for clean energy sources like wind and solar.” She added, “For over a decade, our politicians have been silent on the issue of global warming. With a new administration and a new Congress, the time to transition to green energy and a green economy is now.”

Van Jones, President Obama’s Special Adviser for Green Jobs, told reporters April 21, “This Earth Day is for everybody, for those of us who are concerned about the natural world but also for laid-off workers, for home owners and business owners.”

Across the nation, he added, “you’re seeing people begin to get the actual benefits of the (Obama) recovery package” that includes $80 billion to create green jobs and promote clean energy.

Jones, founder of Oakland-based “Green for All,” praised a project in Kansas City using $200 million from Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to retrofit and weatherize 150 blocks of blighted and low-income neighborhoods. “They’re calling it a ‘Green Impact Zone,’” said Jones. “It shows you can fight pollution and poverty at the same time….There’s a wingspan on these jobs that goes from the GEDs to the PhDs. Caulking guns are an equally important part of the agenda as are solar panels.”

The United Steelworkers and the Blue-Green Alliance teamed up to produce four TV ads that began airing in time for Earth Day in rustbelt towns in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. In one of the ads, steelworker John Fetterman stands in front of the Bell Market in Braddock, PA. “When this place opened, Braddock was a thriving steel town with plenty of jobs,” Fetterman says. “But when the mills closed this town suffered. We need a cap on carbon pollution. It will create jobs. There are 250 tons of steel in a wind turbine.” He turns to four fellow steelworkers in their hardhats. “You can take care of that can’t you?” he asks.

This Earth Day marks a turning point in the environmental movement with union workers speaking out more clearly and loudly than ever before for “good jobs, green jobs” and a clean energy economy. A recent report by the Alliance estimated that “a serious commitment to renewable energy could create 820,000 new good-paying manufacturing jobs across the country.” The report broke down that potential on a state-by-state and county-by-county basis. CNNMoney reported that already there are already more workers employed in the wind sector than in the coal industry.

A similar TV ad airing in Ohio and sponsored by the Apollo Alliance, calls on that state’s Republican Sen. George Voinovich to “support a domestic green jobs bill that will help put Ohioans back to work in well-paying clean energy jobs.” The ad points out that since 2007, more than 100,000 manufacturing jobs have vanished in Ohio. Apollo Alliance Chair Phil Angelides says, “We can’t let the next generation of energy jobs be in oil fields on the other side of the world….Ohio is poised to lead the transition to a clean energy economy.”