Van Jones talks up green jobs

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Van Jones

Van Jones isn’t one to mince words.

Speaking to a roomful of clean-energy advocates the former Obama Administration staffer and green jobs promoter said, "You have a tough year ahead of you."

Jones was in Portland Tuesday, delivering a speech at the University of Oregon's White Stag building that coincided with President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. Before that he met with some 30 business leaders, elected officials and renewable energy advocates to share his perspective on policy and the political environment as it pertains to clean energy.

His hosts for the roundtable were Climate Solutions and the Oregon Environmental Council, two organizations backing energy efficiency in Oregon as a path to green jobs and better energy management.

Jones, author of the 2008 book "The Green Collar Economy," said the end of stimulus spending and the rocky economy combine to make it imperative to create jobs by supporting energy efficiency even more urgent.

"If not now, when?" Jones asked. "We all love Martin Luther King this time of year. I think we should build a green economy that Dr. King would be proud of."

The onetime special adviser to Obama on green jobs, Jones resigned in September, 2009 after controversy arose over his past political activities.

It's not difficult to see that Jones can be controversial. On Tuesday afternoon, he took on the environmental movement’s elitism — pointing out that Whole Foods is known as "Whole Paycheck" and saying that sustainable living shouldn't be reserved for those who can afford it — and taking on the regulation-laden and subsidy supported energy market.

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