In my opinion, 2009 may just go down in history books as “The Year of the Green Job.” Okay, perhaps that's a bit of a bold statement but allow me to explain. The green jobs movement has been around for years, but this year it really made a splash in the media among business owners, at educational institutions, and in neighborhoods across the country.

Prior to 2009, many people wouldn’t have had a clue what a green job was. Thanks in part to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Obama administration’s focus on green jobs, more Americans can actually answer the question, “What is a green job?”

Even the controversy over Van Jones' appointment as the White House Special Advisor for Green Jobs and his ultimate resignation helped bring the topic of green jobs into households across the country. So now that 2009 is coming to a close, I’m looking back to reflect on what I think were the top five green jobs stories of the year.

Van Jones’ appointment as White House special advisor for green jobs

When President Obama named green jobs activist Van Jones as the White House special advisor for green jobs, Americans began to take notice. What was once a topic reserved for people already active in the environmental movement quickly became a topic for everyone. What are these green jobs and why are they so important? This appointment set the stage for a flurry of activity that would help Americans understand the importance of green jobs and a green collar economy.

Van Jones’ resignation as White House special advisor for green jobs

When Van Jones resigned from his position with the White House, Americans on both sides of the political spectrum took notice. While some praised the ousting of this political “czar”, others were concerned that his departure would hurt the green jobs movement. However, Jones was a green jobs activist prior to 2009 and he will continue to be a powerful voice for green jobs in the years to come. Although there was much controversy surrounding his departure, the story quickly became one of the hottest green jobs-related news topics of the year.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Although the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) wasn’t dedicated solely to green jobs, the legislation was responsible for funding the Green Jobs Act of 2007 as well as other green jobs-related projects. Without the ARRA funding, the Green Jobs Act would still be unfunded and a variety of green jobs training programs would never have gotten off the ground.

The Spanish green jobs study

Shortly after green jobs starting making a regular appearance in environmental news pieces, news of a Spanish green jobs study was used to counter all of the points made by green jobs supporters. The Spanish study claims that for every green job created in Spain, 2.2 regular jobs were lost. Anti-green jobs activist latched on to this survey, and it continued to make headlines for months. Things eventually quieted down after several organizations worked furiously to debunk the data contained in the study.

Green jobs – A pathway out of poverty

A common thread among many of the green jobs topics I covered in 2009 centered on one important facet of good, green jobs — the ability for these jobs to provide a pathway out of poverty for under-employed and unemployed Americans, at-risk youth, and single mothers. The ARRA provided green jobs training opportunities for these population groups and now these communities should reap the benefits in the coming years.

These are my choices as the top five green jobs stories of 2009. If you had to choose your top green jobs story, what would it be? I’d love to hear from you.

MNN homepage photo: peanutpie/iStockPhoto

Top 5 green jobs stories of 2009
As 2009 comes to a close, it's time to reflect on the top five green jobs headlines of the year.