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Senate Committee Passes Bipartisan Duckworth Bill to Train Veterans for Careers in Innovative Sectors of the American Energy Industry | U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois

November 19, 2019

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — Bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee unanimously today and will now be considered by the full Senate. The Energy Jobs for our Heroes Act would help ease the transition back to civilian life for servicemembers and strengthen the economy by connecting employers in the fast-growing solar, wind, nuclear and cyber energy industries with talented, highly-skilled Veterans who possess the needed training and credentials to succeed.

“Our nation has experienced an exponential growth in clean, renewable energy. I believe there is tremendous opportunity for our Veterans to find good-paying jobs in these fast-growing sectors,” said Duckworth. “I’m glad my colleagues passed my bipartisan legislation—which would help servicemembers and Veterans transition back into civilian live while also helping clean energy companies find highly-skilled and dedicated workers— out of committee today, and I’ll keep working to make sure it becomes law.”

“I am pleased to hear this important legislation has cleared a key hurdle,” said Graham. “This legislation will help veterans find jobs and boost the clean energy economy. If there was ever a win-win, this is it.”

“Our Energy Ready Vets Program will connect our veterans, who are already uniquely qualified to succeed in cutting-edge industries, with the clean energy industry that is quickly growing and seeking high skilled workers,” said Bennet. “For years, Colorado has been working to ensure our veterans have the necessary skills and training to compete in the 21st century economy while also creating pathways for them to enter the clean energy industry. I’m thrilled to see the Senate follow Colorado’s lead and pass our bipartisan bill out of committee – we’ll continue working together to move this bill forward in the Senate.”

“I’m a strong advocate for advancing clean energy solutions, and this important bipartisan legislation not only strengthens our renewable energy sector, it also bolsters opportunities for qualified veterans to transition into the civilian workforce,” said Gardner. “Military experience provides invaluable education, leadership and education skills and I’m pleased the committee has approved this bipartisan legislation to help connect our heroes with this rapidly expanding sector of our economy.” 

The bipartisan Energy Jobs for our Heroes Act—which was re-introduced this March by Duckworth, Graham, Bennet and Gardner—would direct the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to partner with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to develop the “Energy Ready Vets Program” to provide Veterans with training and credentials to secure good paying jobs in the low-carbon and zero-carbon emissions sectors of the energy industry, such as wind, solar and cyber-energy fields. The program would be led by an Administrator with military experience and offer Veterans and members of the Armed Forces six-month internships to gain hands-on training and skills. It would also establish a labeling program that recognizes companies that are hiring graduates of these programs in order to encourage them to hire Veterans.

The Senate also unanimously passed an amendment that was introduced by Bennet, Gardner and Duckworth last year and became law as part of the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act of 2019 to lay the groundwork for the creation of an Energy Ready Vets training program. That amendment required the Departments of Energy and Defense to evaluate which military installations could effectively partner with colleges and private companies to train Veterans and servicemembers to enter the cybersecurity, energy and artificial intelligence workforces.

The U.S. military has been a leader in developing clean energy technology. The Army, Navy, and Air Force have set a goal, which the Navy has already achieved, of developing one gigawatt of renewable energy to power their installations by 2025 – enough to power about 700,000 U.S. homes. As a result, many servicemembers and Veterans already have the technical skills that make them great fits for the wind and solar industries, both of which employ Veterans at higher rates than the rest of our economy. According to the Department of Energy, Veterans make up 11.5% and 11.1% of the wind and solar workforce respectively. 

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