BlueGreen Alliance

Good Jobs, Clean Environment, Green Economy

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A blaze at a chemical warehouse near Houston caused area schools, businesses and residents to evacuate. The warehouse was full of hazardous chemicals—pesticides and petroleum additives were being stored in the building. (Click2Houston)

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“... this kind of thinking— his myth that government is always the enemy; that forgets that our government is us—it’s us; that it’s an extension of us, ourselves—that attitude is as corrosive to our democracy as the stuff that resulted in lead in your water. Because what happens is it leads to systematic neglect. It leads to carelessness and callousness,” said President Obama during his visit to Flint this week.

WHAT’S TRENDING

CWA day of action a success – Striking Verizon workers and those supporting them held massive protests on a day of action, including protesting the company’s shareholder meeting. (The Hill) 

Former mayors weigh in on climate – The former mayors of New York City, Paris and Rio speak out about what cities can do to act on climate change. (The Guardian) 

Posted In: The Source

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Yesterday was Workers’ Memorial Day—the day where we mourn the fallen on the job and work together to fight for the living. Our Charlotte Brody was interviewed about workplace hazards, getting carcinogens out of the workplace, and how we’re fighting for safer workplaces to protect workers and their communities, as well as the environment. Watch it here.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“Many American workers, and countless people around the world, are in danger from heat in the workplace. Climate change is turning up the temperatures and creating real problems in our workplaces, and in the future it’s only going to get worse if we don’t take action to address it and its impacts,” said BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Kim Glas in a blog about a new United Nations report that highlights the danger climate changes poses to workers.(Medium)

WHAT’S TRENDING

Mayors on methane – A group of U.S. mayors called on the Obama administration to introduce new standards to cut methane emissions from existing facilities in the oil and gas industry. (The Hill)

Posted In: The Source

The following blog is from Rob McCulloch Director, Infrastructure Programs at theBlueGreen Alliance and Melanie Houston, Director of Oil and Gas Policy for the Ohio Environmental Council.

On April 8, labor and environmental advocates hosted Senator Brown and local union members and  elected officials for a roundtable discussion about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new methane standards for the oil and gas industry. The discussion focused on how we can create critically needed jobs and improve working conditions for workers while also providing important environmental protections for Ohio’s at risk communities. Most in the room agreed that this can be accomplished by fixing leaks and reducing methane emissions in the oil and gas sector. The roundtable was held at the Noble County Health Department in Caldwell, Ohio.

Posted In: Infrastructure, Climate Change

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March was much hotter than average in the Lower 48 States and Alaska. It was the fourth hottest March on record and—for the first time in recorded history—every one of the 357 climate division in the Lower 48 and Alaska was warmer than normal. (Washington Post)

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“The house tells the story of a century of courageous activism by American women… I want young girls and boys to come here—10, 20, 100 years from now—to know that women fought for equality, it was not just given to them.

“I want them to come here and be astonished that there was ever a time that women could not vote. I want them to be astonished that there was ever a time when women earned less than men for doing the same work,” said President Obama as he declared the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum a national monument.

WHAT’S TRENDING

It is what we thought it was – States with laws to require a certain amount of their energy come from renewables have been successful and the costs of moving to clean energy have been small. (Midwest Energy News)

Not that it’s a bad thing but… – President Obama’s swift action to join the Paris Agreement may make it very difficult for the next president to get out of it. (Washington Post)

Posted In: The Source

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A long-delayed rule to protect workers from the harmful impacts of silica on the job has finally been issued by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). The BlueGreen Alliance’s Executive Director Kim Glas said of the rule, “After 40 years of regulatory delay, this rule could save nearly 700 lives and prevent 1,600 cases of silicosis a year. Silica dust has been a known carcinogen since the 1970’s; exposure to the mineral can cause a multitude of illnesses including silicosis, lung cancer, kidney disease, and respiratory diseases.” (The Hill & BlueGreen Alliance)

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“Flint residents, who are majority black or African-American and among the most impoverished of any metropolitan area in the United States, did not enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards as that provided to other communities.” – An excerpt from a report from the Flint Water Advisory Task Force.

WHAT’S TRENDING

Race and environmental justice – This editorial discusses the role race played in the Flint water crisis in the wake a damning report that highlights the failures of the Snyder administration and other officials that lead to the crisis. (New York Times)

More on that report – The 116-page report slammed the state’s response to Flint and highlighted the utter failure of the state’s Emergency Manager law that allowed the decision to switch the city’s water from the Detroit Water and Sewage Department to the Flint River. (Detroit Free Press)

Posted In: The Source

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Efforts in the Senate to get aid to Flint to deal with its water crisis continue to be stymied by a hold placed on the legislation by Senator Mike Lee of Utah. (Detroit News)

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“He’s not a very pragmatic man and I don’t know that he understands how fundamental some of this stuff is… I think he’s got two problems. One is that he’s not looking towards the future, and the other one is that he’s so hung up on his ideological fixations that he can’t see the pragmatic need to do something,” said Nibley City, Utah Mayor Shaun Dustin of Lee’s hold on the Flint aid bill.

WHAT’S TRENDING

Expanding Medicaid to Flint – The U.S. Department of Human Services announced it will expand Medicaid coverage to about 15,000 low-income resident of Flint to help treat the impacts of the water crisis. (The Hill)

Pipeline safety bill clears Senate – A bill to fund the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) through 2019 passed the Senate with unanimous consent last night. The BlueGreen Alliance’s Executive Director Kim Glas said, “The Safe Pipes Act expired six months, ago and it’s about time Congress is taking action. We encourage the House to follow the Senate's lead and swiftly reauthorize the Safe Pipes Act, which will help to reduce methane emissions, address climate change, and create quality jobs for American worker” (The Hill & BlueGreen Alliance)

Posted In: The Source

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Donations to help with the Flint water crisis have totaled $7 million so far. Several unions, including the United Association (UA) and Service Employees International Union, and environmental groups have been doing tremendous work to help people out. As of earlier this month, the members of UA Local 370 have visited over 3,500 homes, totaling over 8,000 hours of volunteer work to install water filters at no cost to local residents. (MLive & Michigan Radio)

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"The climate challenge we live and its human roots impact us all,” said Pope Francis during his trip to Mexico.

WHAT’S TRENDING

Opposition grows against TPP – The top Democratic lawmaker on the House Ways & Means Committee, Congressman Sander Levin (MI), has come out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. Earlier this week, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon also announced his opposition. (Washington Post & Portland Tribune)

Also on Flint – A study of 500 large communities in 48 states found that Flint residents paid some of the highest water bills in any community in the country for their polluted water. (Reuters)

Posted In: The Source

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Graphic courtesy of Climate Central.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that 2015 was officially the second-hottest year on record in the U.S. The temperature was 2.5 degrees above the 20th century average.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“We’re not just going to stay with what we’ve already done. We’re going to look for other opportunities,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on her agency's plans in 2016.

WHAT’S TRENDING

All bluster – The House will take up a bill next week designed to block an EPA clean water rule. President Obama is expected to veto the bill if it comes to his desk. (The Hill)

Posted In: The Source

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Last weekend, the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change was wrapped up and it has now been signed by nearly 200 nations. The BlueGreen Alliance’s Executive Director Kim Glas said, “This is a proud moment in world history and a strong step forward to solving the biggest challenge of our time. While not perfect—the Paris Agreement urges a just transition for impacted workers and underscores the obligation to protect human rights.” (New York Times & BlueGreen Alliance)

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“…exporting oil will cost U.S. refinery workers their jobs. The oil they would have converted to gasoline and other products will, instead, be shipped overseas to be refined, and then hauled back to the United States as gasoline. The ban on exporting U.S. crude helped save jobs at two refineries in Philadelphia just four years ago.” – former United Steelworkers International Vice President Gary Beevers.

WHAT’S TRENDING

Budget – The House passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the government through September. (Politico)

Lead – In Flint, Michigan, there is a water crisis due to the amount of lead in the water. (Washington Post)

Posted In: The Source
A jet-lagged, but hopeful, Michael Williams at the COP21 climate negotiations in Paris.

The following post is from Michael G. Williams, Vice President of Strategic Development for the BlueGreen Alliance. 

Greetings from Paris. Week two of climate negotiations is now underway! All signs still point towards a comprehensive agreement, which is not a huge surprise given the amount of work put in beforehand to get us this far. Week two is typically the change from the dog-and-pony show to serious negotiations. As such, I thought it would be useful to take a look at each of the five key principles we released last Monday. Let’s start with the issue we’ve had as a priority at the COPs since the BlueGreen Alliance’s founding: Just Transition.

We sent a letter to Todd Stern, the lead negotiator for the United States, succinctly describing our position. In short, we need explicit language on just transition in the operative part of the agreement. This means that when each country submits its contribution every two years or so describing how they are taking on the challenge of climate change, they also have to describe how they are taking into account the impact of workers and communities.

When the negotiations started, we had exactly that. In the operational portion (Article 2) of the draft negotiating text was direct reference to just transition and decent work, as part of a paragraph that captured core issues to broader civil society, notably gender equality and human rights. (FYI, for more background on just transition, there’s no better place to go than the International Trade Union Confederation.) Frustratingly, as the first week bore on, our language along with references to other portions of the human rights ask was taken out amidst arguments involving the United States, Norway, Saudi Arabia and a number of other countries. 

Posted In: Climate Change