The April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion killed 11 workers and resulted in a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst spill in United States history. Millions of gallons of oil have leaked into the Gulf, and over 78,000 square miles of fishing area have been closed. One bright spot amidst this tragedy is the increase in green jobs needed to clean up the oil and to figure out how to stop the leak. Environmental activists are hoping that the push for renewable energy as a result of the spill may create longer term green collar jobs.
Green Jobs Available in Several States
Since the spill, BP has hired over 25,000 workers to assist with oil clean up efforts. States such as Florida, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi have set up specific websites for residents looking for spill response work. Approximately 400 positions have become available in Florida’s Walton and Okaloosa counties alone.
Job positions include anything from marine scientists, to field technicians, to coastal modelers. Employers include state and federal agencies, but also private engineering and construction firms, oil and gas companies, and emergency response firms. Some universities are also starting to expand research opportunities to study the impacts of the spill on wildlife and the economy.
Florida’s Monroe County is preparing for any spill impact on the Florida Keys by recruiting up to 300 unemployed residents to become Qualified Community Responders (QCRs). Coming from all parts of the Keys, these workers will receive paid QCR training on hazardous waste management. Over 500 QCR’s are being trained in five other Florida counties.
Hazwoper Certification Needed for Many Oil Spill Cleanup Positions
Many employers are willing to train on the job. One major requirement to work on remediation sites is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazwoper certification. Hazwoper stands for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response. It corresponds to an OSHA standard that considers oil cleanup and containment an emergency response activity.
Workers that receive the Hazwoper training gain valuable skills. Topics of the training cover essentials such as toxicology, hazard recognition, medical surveillance, air monitoring, emergency procedures, and other areas. Workers who are temporarily visiting the oil spill site can do a 24 hour training; workers who will be on site everyday (considered general workers) must complete a 40 hour training.
Renewable Energy Cries Might Spur Green Collar Jobs in the Future
According to the green collar job advocates, Green for All, green collar jobs are ones that improve the environment, promote clean energy, and lift lower income individuals into the middle class. The oil spill has moved renewable energy advocates to pressure the government to address the dangers of relying on non-renewable sources and to expand the clean energy industry.
One long term goal for organizations like Green for All is to create a green economy. Currently workforce development programs exist to train youth and those currently unemployed or underemployed to work in green industries such as solar and wind energy production and energy conservation.
President Obama unveiled a plan to promote more clean energy jobs in January that would create 17,000 jobs. In his Oval Office address to the nation about the oil spill, he concluded by discussing America’s need to transition to using green energy sources and the jobs that are becoming available.
BP Oil Spill Brings Green Jobs and New Found Urgencies for a Green Economy
BP’s oil spill created a spike in job creation around the cleanup effort. Job websites post thousands of positions, many of which offer on the job training. Green energy activists are urging politicians to act now on moving towards a green economy with the hope that future employment growth can be in the green collar job sector.