BlueGreen Alliance

Good Jobs, Clean Environment, Green Economy

By Lee Anderson, Director of Legislation and Policy for the BlueGreen Alliance.

For the last year and a half, while much of the world has been focused on two of the largest international trade agreements ever proposed—the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)—the United States has been simultaneously working on an under-the-radar trade agreement with a seemingly benign title, the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA). Working with 13 other World Trade Organization (WTO) members, the U.S., to hear the U.S. Trade Representative’s office tell it, has simply been negotiating the EGA in order to remove tariffs on hundreds of items deemed to be “environmental goods.”

So, what’s wrong with that, you ask? After all, wouldn’t it be great if environmentally beneficial things like clean energy technologies could be traded around the world as easily as possible? Well, maybe, but first we’d all have to agree what is meant by that innocent sounding term: environmental good. For instance, would you consider a yacht to be an environmental good? How about bulldozers, lasers or, my personal favorite, human blood? All those things, and many, many more items of uncertain relation to the environment are on a lengthy list of goods slated for inclusion in the EGA and, as a result, a removal of tariffs on their trade.

Posted In: Trade/Make it in America

EDITOR’S NOTE: After a hiatus we’re back! From here on out, the BlueGreen Source will now be a once-weekly recap of the news sent out on Friday mornings.


A top economist looks at how the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement could be used to undermine climate change protections. (Grist)


“On Oct. 14, I took part in a national day of action organized by the People’s Climate Movement. A diverse group of people banded together to talk about how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan can help Minnesota. The Clean Power Plan is an opportunity to become more energy independent, reduce the pollution driving climate change and impacting all of us—especially communities of color and low-income communities—and drive the growth of quality jobs in our state.” – Jamie Gulley is the president of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and the SEIU Minnesota State Council. (MinnPost)


Paris – Read this opinion piece from United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres about how the world is gearing up to tackle climate change. (The Guardian)

Posted In: The Source

The White House yesterday announced new commitments from 81 companies around the country to push for an international climate deal in Paris and to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to climate action. The companies that took the American Business Act on Climate pledge have operations in all 50 states and employ over 9 million people. 

The pledge is straight forward, it states: 

We applaud the growing number of countries that have already set ambitious targets for climate action. In this context, we support the conclusion of a climate change agreement in Paris that takes a strong step forward toward a low-carbon, sustainable future. 

We recognize that delaying action on climate change will be costly in economic and human terms, while accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy will produce multiple benefits with regard to sustainable economic growth, public health, resilience to natural disasters, and the health of the global environment.

Posted In: Climate Change

The following blog post is from Gretchen Goldman, lead analyst, Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. The original post can be found here.

Today, a new public poll was released showing Americans’ widespread support for chemical safety reform. The headline might not seem so remarkable but the data show an impressive level of support across demographics. Let’s dig in, shall we?

The poll was sponsored by the Union of Concerned Scientists, along with the BlueGreen Alliance, Center for Effective Government, Communications Workers of America, Greenpeace, and United Steelworkers, and conducted by Lake Research Partners. The poll surveyed 1,009 adults, including 794 likely 2016 voters and asked about chemical safety issues.

Across demographics, the majority of likely voters polled favored requiring chemical facilities to use safer chemicals and processes in order to protect communities.

Across demographics, the majority of likely voters polled favored requiring chemical facilities to use safer chemicals and processes in order to protect communities.

Posted In: Work, Environment and Public Health, Union of Concerned Scientists

Green buildings and more efficient building practices and materials have taken the construction sector in the U.S. by storm and a new study shows that a third of the U.S. construction market could be green by 2018. 

The growth of green in construction is a huge boon to the U.S. economy and to workers. The report from the US Green Building Council (USGBC) found that green construction has generated $167 billion in the U.S. over the last three years and will account for an estimated 2.3 million American jobs this year. 

By 2018, the study finds that green construction will account for more than 3.3 million U.S. jobs, which is more than a third of the entire U.S. construction sector. It will also generate $190.3 billion in labor earnings. In Texas alone, almost 1.26 million jobs in the green building sector are projected between 2015 and 2018.  

Posted In: Energy Efficiency

The following blog post is from Kim Glas, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance, and is cross-posted from the Huffington Post

It's expected that the House will soon vote on a bill to lift the long-standing ban on crude oil exports. We should take a step back and see how this 180-degree shift in policy will impact us all. Lifting the export ban would not only risk undoing recent gains in America's energy security, but would also threaten jobs, economic security and the environment.

The bill—H.R. 702—would amend the Energy Policy and Conservation Act and would prohibit any federal office from imposing or enforcing the ban on crude oil exports.

In terms of economic impact, lifting the crude oil ban would provide an incentive for companies to move refining offshore, which would impact jobs of the men and women employed at U.S. refineries and the communities that rely on the tax base generated from these wages. Refinery and related industry occupations are good paying, middle-class jobs. They support more than $1.8 million in value-added to the economy per employee, which translates to jobs that support families and sustain local economies and communities.

Cities in the United States are struggling with aging and failing infrastructure systems—ones that will likely be unable to withstand the severe impacts of climate change. We’ve seen this with Hurricane Sandy, and in Duluth, Minnesota, where the roads were washed away several years ago by the worst flood in Duluth’s history.
This problem is observed in today’s Star Tribune, with an editorial outlining what the mayors of two of the state’s major cities say is the biggest problem they have yet to fix: the cities’ aging infrastructure for street, sewer and related systems.
Building smarter cities will not only improve our infrastructure and make our cities more efficient, it can have a significant impact in the fight against climate change.
A new working paper from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate outlines the importance of building smarter cities as a strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In "Accelerating Low-Carbon Development in the World’s Cities," the Commission says that two-thirds of the global population will live in urban areas by 2050, and recommends that cities “commit to developing and implementing low-carbon urban development strategies by 2020,” calling for an aid package of $1 billion to unleash $5-10 billion in private investment. 
As reported by The Guardian:
“Putting cities on a course of smart growth – with expanded public transit, energy-saving buildings, and better waste management - could save as much as $22tn and avoid the equivalent in carbon pollution of India’s entire annual output of greenhouse gasses, according to leading economists.”
The report comes just a few months ahead of critical negotiations in Paris around a global agreement to fight climate change. The report’s contributors say that this strategy could help close the gap between currently committed reductions in greenhouse gases and that which is needed to limit the world’s global temperature increase to 2° C.
Building smarter cities seems like a no brainer. Building efficiency, transit, renewable energy and waste management are all strategies worth pursuing in cities in the United States and across the world.
But political will is needed to make these changes, both in Paris and here in the United States.  
Posted In: Minnesota, Infrastructure, Climate Change

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: The BlueGreen Source will be on hiatus until Monday, September 14.


Yesterday a federal judge in North Dakota blocked Clean Water Act protections just before it was set to take effect. The decision only applies to the 13 states that are a part of the lawsuit. (The Hill)


“We strongly believe that this investment is not, as some would say, an expenditure of money but a true investment that provides a return to the public in the form of economic growth along with the jobs that are created by that growth,” writes Oklahoma’s transportation secretary.


Message of hope – President Obama yesterday traveled to New Orleans yesterday on the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. In a speech he said, “Americans like you—the people of New Orleans . . . you’re what recovery has been all about.” (Washington Post)

Posted In: The Source


Despite the effort by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others to restore sediment and rebuild levees around New Orleans, rising sea levels continue to pose a threat to Louisiana. (Climate Central)


"We don't have time to waste. We don't have time to lose,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a press conference yesterday urging leaders to accelerate climate change negotiations.


Ten years later – President Obama travels to New Orleans today to mark the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. He’s expected to speak about the structural inequalities across the city that contributed to the severity of the destruction. (Reuters)

Posted In: The Source
The following post by Anthony DeAngelo has been cross-posted from the AFL-CIO NOW blog. The original post is available online here

Workers across the country have stood up in the past month to fight for better wages and working conditions.

More Americans Are Backing Worker Efforts to Speak Out: According to a new Gallup poll released last week, nearly six in 10 Americans stated they approve of labor unions. Efforts by working people to rally around issues ranging from raising wages to improved access to collective bargaining have led to the highest approval rating since 2008. In addition, millennials reported being more pro-union than any other age group, while the number of respondents who want workers to have more influence in public debate has risen 12 points since 2009.