Commentary: EPA's Jackson sounds hopeful note on green energy

On her travels around the country, Lisa Jackson, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, often talks to people who want their cities to jump on the clean energy bandwagon.

Monday, Jackson visited Sacramento for the first time. She met Gov. Jerry Brown and state environmental officials. She attended a Greenwise Sacramento event hosted by Mayor Kevin Johnson, and she took part in a roundtable with CEOs of area businesses.

Her message is clear: Moving aggressively to clean energy is not only good for the environment, it is a national security issue and it is an economic growth priority.

The United States should absolutely "own" the green technology sector, she said emphatically in a meeting with The Bee's editorial board.

While careful not to play favorites, Jackson says the Sacramento region does have a leg up in becoming a leader in green tech jobs. It isn't just pursuing solar power or wind energy, but has a broad initiative that includes rural areas. A major university – UC Davis – is solidly on board. Many business leaders understand the economic potential and are eager to tap into it. It's the capital of a state that has been a leader on the environment.

That synergy, Jackson says, doesn't exist in many other places. Here's hoping she's right.

Sacramento's economic mainstays have been real estate and state government. If you haven't noticed, those sectors are struggling, and their immediate prospects are iffy.

For the region to recover more quickly and get unemployment below double digits, it has to diversify. The green technology sector – research, manufacturing, energy efficiency, and the like – could be a major pillar.

To read the complete editorial, visit www.sacbee.com.