A demonstrator for clean energy holds up a sign during a rally on Capitol Hill in Washington March 2, 2009. (REUTERS / Kevin Lamarque)

A group of small U.S. manufacturers and trade associations is endorsing a bill it says will boost the number of green manufacturing jobs in industries like wind and solar power in the United States. The Apollo Alliance, a California-based coalition of labor, business and environmental groups, said the companies support legislation sponsored by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, that would create a two-year $30 billion revolving loan fund for small to medium-sized businesses. It said the move is necessary because 70 percent of U.S. clean energy and efficiency systems are built abroad.

The group estimated Brown's bill would generate more than $100 billion in revenue for clean energy businesses and create 680,000 direct manufacturing jobs and nearly 2 million indirect jobs over five years.

Apollo supports the climate bill passed by the House of Representatives in June and wants to make sure strong incentives for green jobs will be included in the Senate's version of the bill. Democratic leaders hope that bill will be put to a vote in the Senate in October and signed by President Barack Obama late this year or in early 2010.

Apollo's support of the bill passed in the House reveals a growing divide between manufacturers on climate legislation. The National Association of Manufacturers opposed the climate bill saying it would increase costs on businesses and consumers.

Many incentives in Brown's bill for green jobs are similar to those in the legislation passed in the House.

The incentives in Brown's bill would build on funds from the stimulus bill which provided some $100 billion in investments for clean energy and transportation.

We consider the stimulus bill a down payment on the transition to a clean energy economy, said Sam Haswell, a spokesman for Apollo. It was an important first step, but the stimulus alone won't get us fully to a clean energy economy where we will become competitive on a global basis.

Haswell said the incentives would go a long way in states like Ohio and Indiana and other Midwestern states that have lost manufacturing jobs and whose workers could be retrained to make solar cells, wind turbines and batteries for cars.

The United States overtook Germany to become the world's largest wind energy producer last year but is losing that position to China, which is building some of the largest wind farms in the world.

Companies that endorsed Brown's bill include Infinia Corp in Washington state, which makes solar generating systems for utility scale power plants and whose supply chain consists of retooled Midwestern auto supply companies, and Heller Machine Tools LP in Michigan.