Gardner introduces bill to prepare U.S. military veterans for clean energy jobs

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) on March 26 cosponsored a bipartisan bill to support both the nation’s military veterans and America’s clean energy sector.

“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,” Sen. Gardner tweeted on March 27.

The Energy Jobs for Our Heroes Act of 2019, S. 876, lead sponsored by U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), would amend the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to require the U.S. Energy Secretary to create a program to prepare veterans for careers in the energy industry, including the solar, wind, cybersecurity, and other low-carbon emissions sectors or zero-emissions sectors of the energy industry, according to the congressional record. Gardner’s Democratic colleague from Colorado, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, also cosponsored the measure. 

“The Energy Ready Vets Program will ensure veterans, who are already uniquely qualified to succeed in cutting-edge industries, have the necessary skills and training to compete in the 21st century economy,” said Sen. Bennet last week. “Our bill builds on the work states like Colorado have been doing for years to support service members transitioning to civilian life and to create more pathways for workers to enter the clean energy industry.” 

Sen. Gardner said that, “Military experience provides invaluable education, leadership and education skills and this bill will help connect our heroes with this rapidly expanding sector of our economy.” 

If enacted, S. 876 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, which would train and credential veterans in the low-carbon and zero-carbon emissions sectors of the energy industry, according to the lawmakers’ statements.

Among other provisions, S. 876 also would call for the program to be led by an administrator with military experience and would offer veterans and members of the Armed Forces six-month internships to gain hands-on training and skills, according to the summary. 

Last year, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved an amendment Sens. Gardner and Bennet sponsored in the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act of 2019, H.R. 5895, which became law on Sept. 21, 2018.

Their amendment laid the groundwork for the Energy Ready Vets Program by requiring DOE and DOD to evaluate which military installations could partner with colleges and private companies to train veterans and service members to enter the cybersecurity, energy and artificial intelligence workforces.

S. 876 has been referred to the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for consideration.