BlueGreen Alliance

Good Jobs, Clean Environment, Green Economy

Posts About Infrastructure

This crosspost is from Callum Beals, an editorial intern at Sierra. You can find the original here

April 10, 2014

Chinatown station on the LA Metro Gold LineThe American Public Transportation Association is partying like it's 1956. That's because Americans took 10.65 billion trips on public transit systems in 2013 -- numbers not seen since the 1950s. In its annual ridership report, APTA stated that more Americans were using trains, buses, and subways as an alternative to commuting to work by car.

The 2013 numbers narrowly surpassed the post-1950s high of 10.59 billion in 2008, when gas prices ballooned. According to APTA, what makes the 2013 numbers so exciting is that gas prices are lower now than they were in 2008.

Public transit powerhouse New York City saw a 4.2% heavy rail ridership increase. More surprisingly, Los Angeles posted a 4.8% heavy rail increase coupled with a 6% light rail increase for 2013.

The LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is betting big on public transit as the future of the area. "It has to be," said Marc Littman, the LA Metro's deputy executive officer of public relations. "Mobility is the linchpin of the economy."

By the end of 2014, the LA Metro will have started construction on multiple new heavy and light rail projects that will become operational over the next decade. "Voters in LA are so fed up with traffic that in 2008 they voted to tax themselves three times over," said Littman. The taxes he is referring to are all part of Measure R, a 2008 county ballot that will award around $40 billion of taxpayer money to traffic relief and transportation upgrades over the next 30 years.

While traffic reduction was undoubtedly at the forefront of voters' minds, so too was an increasing environmental consciousness. "You can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 20 pounds of COper day," says Littman. "We've tapped into people who are fed up with traffic as well as those that are environmentally conscious."

This green rider is exactly who APTA believes is behind 2013's surge in public transportation ridership. In an interview with the Associated Press, APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy proclaimed, "People are making a fundamental shift to having options for getting around. This is a long term trend. This isn't just a blip."

Quantifying the affect of environmentalism on increased public transit ridership is difficult, but the fact that 2013's levels resemble those of the 1950s can't be ignored. With the rise of the automobile and suburbia, public transit has long been a secondary option for commuters.

Littman believes that Americans, especially Los Angelenos, want a return to a sprawling public transit infrastructure. "In Los Angeles, there were more than 1000 miles of track 100 years ago, and people want it back. It's kind of like that baseball movie [Field of Dreams]. If you build it, they will come."

To get involved with local public transit projects, visit publictransportation.org

--Image courtesy of iStockphoto/Merkuri2

Callum Beals is an editorial intern at Sierra. He recently graduated from UC Santa Cruz, where he studied history and literature. He enjoys hiking, camping, and waking up at ungodly hours to watch soccer games.

Posted In: Infrastructure, Transportation, Sierra Club

We all have a general awareness about the power of severe weather—that it can cause a lot of damage and that it can destroy millions of dollars of property in a matter of minutes or seconds, for example. What we didn’t know was the full extent of what it is all costing us. A new report out by Climate Central reveals some sobering facts that show just how prevalent and destructive extreme weather has been over the past few years, and how we need to so something about it. 

Sticker shock 

Climate change is getting worse. Weather-related events caused 80 percent of all outages between 2003-2012. Michigan led all of the states with 71 major weather related outages. Michigan residents certainly paid for it too—to the tune of $277 million—which is what it cost to repair all weather related damages in the state last year. All in all, from 2011-2012 Americans spent $188 billion in repairs on extreme weather damages. 

Apart from having clean water, electricity is a basic need that we all depend on. When outages are interrupting our lives more and more frequently, like they are today, it’s time to talk more about what we can do about it.

Map of Hurricane Sandy 


A basic need we can’t do without 

According to the Climate Central report, “The U.S. electrical system is one of the country’s most critical infrastructure components. Distributing electricity to homes, businesses, and industry, as well as large sections of the transportation sector, the bulk power system is a vast and interconnected grid that people depend on in all parts of their daily lives.” 

One of the ways we can address this problem of power outages is to strengthen the electric grid in the first place. Making the repairs that will prevent widespread power outages in the future will create jobs and stimulate growth in communities. Looking at Minnesota alone, an investment of $400 million per year on electricity infrastructure over the span of five years is creating or sustaining an estimated 5,200 jobs throughout the economy each year. 

Power outages aren’t simply an inconvenience. They cost us lost time and money that adds up and holds back the economy over the long term. Weather-related power outages cost Americans between $20 and $55 billion per year. That’s all money that could be much better spent boosting our bottom line.

America's electricity network
Courtesy of mapoftheweek.blogspot.com

 

The problems that plague the electric grid are indicative of so many of our infrastructure systems like inefficient water management systems, crumbling roads and bridges and much more. It’s time to repair the electric grid so that when the power goes out we don’t also lose access to clean water, so that strong winds and down power lines don’t pose the same threat they do today, and to get to work on the greater vision to Repair America. Join us today!

Posted In: Infrastructure

The following blog post is by Susan Diegelman, Director of Public Affairs for AT&T. 

We recently marked the fourth anniversary of the National Broadband Plan, a roadmap created to bring broadband connectivity throughout the US. Connectivity is a necessary resource for everyone in this digital age, but many Americans continue to have difficulties obtaining access. Once we meet the plan’s stated goals, we will have increased the availability of affordable, high-speed broadband service in all areas of the country. Many of the Plan’s goals align with BlueGreen Alliance's Repair America objectives to modernize America’s infrastructure, and in so doing revitalize America’s economy and address pressing energy and climate challenges. We applaud the FCC, both on the Plan itself and on the progress made so far. 

In the plan, the FCC characterized broadband deployment as "the great infrastructure challenge of the 21st century." Any American with broadband connectivity can access a wide variety of opportunities, from higher education to Internet entrepreneurship to telecommuting jobs. Broadband also delivers increased opportunities for convenient health care, civic engagement, educational enrichment, and social and professional networking, as well as easy access to news, information, and entertainment. But in addition to these benefits to individuals and communities, many people don't realize that increased access to enhanced broadband service can also help our planet. Advanced broadband technologies enable vital benefits for public safety and national security, and especially for our environment. Expanding access to modern broadband connectivity across the country will help create a cleaner, greener America and a more efficient and competitive economy. 

Implementing policies that encourage the expansion of advanced high-speed broadband networks will promote safety and sustainability—enabling energy, water, and gas utilities to identify leaks, and monitor performance. In the transportation sector real time information is already helping individuals avoid and transportation systems reduce congestion and travel-related carbon emissions, while vehicle to vehicle communication will improve safety and efficiency of vehicle operations and design. Upgrading our old energy networks and transitioning to smart grid technologies – in energy generation, transmission, distribution, and in our homes—will help us will help us fight climate change by enabling new efficiency opportunities, and new ways to connect and use renewable energy, electric vehicles, and smart appliances. It will also help us make our energy systems and communities more resilient. Overall, advanced broadband and communication technologies can help jump-start a new era of healthier and greener economic development. 

Since the adoption of the National Broadband Plan, the United States is closer to reaching many of its objectives, including several important speed and availability goals. The FCC has accomplished substantial progress in a short period of time, and we're confident that they will achieve even more going forward as long as the focus now shifts to designing rules that create the right environment for broadband to thrive and expand. Working to protect consumers while also adopting smart rules that encourage innovation and incentivize additional private investment will be vital to achieving those nationwide broadband connectivity goals.   

On that front, exciting progress was recently made when the FCC approved the concept of broadband network beta trials, which would allow for real-world testing of these advanced all-broadband networks in limited geographic areas. These trials represent an opportunity for industry leaders, policymakers, and consumers to work together to identify the challenges of these new technologies and create solutions. So far, one major provider has stepped up with a proposal to do just that, and we hope that other carriers will soon get on board and help pave the way forward to a greener America. 

With so much at stake, we encourage the FCC to continue down its path toward the right policies for broadband deployment. Only when our entire nation and all consumers can access broadband can we really reap the full benefits and rewards of energy efficiency and clean economic prosperity.


Posted In: Broadband, Infrastructure

The following blog is written by Hillari Howard, communications intern for the BlueGreen Alliance.

New Yorkers learned many hard lessons from Hurricane Sandy, and the need for better, stronger infrastructure was one of them. Recent efforts by the New York Public Service Commission (NYPSC) stand as an example of how utilities can better prepare for the effects of climate change. The other states should follow in the footsteps of New York as we prepare to face increasingly severe weather in the coming years.

We can learn from what happened during Hurricane Sandy, where eight million residents lost power, as did crucial institutions such as Bellevue Hospital, which had to evacuate its more than 700 patients.  Throughout this, utility workers were crucial in helping the city weather the storm. But unfortunately, we also learned some utility companies, like Consolidated Edison (ConEd), must do more to take better care of the utilities we rely on and ensure there’s an adequate number of workers to fix the failing system.

New York City officials and residents are making sure they’re better prepared next time. For example, the New York Public Service Commission introduced the Storm Hardening and Resiliency Collaborative to address four areas of improvement: storm hardening standards, alternative resiliency strategies, natural gas system resiliency, and risk assessment/cost-benefit analysis. This collaborative is designed to strengthen the infrastructure systems, make them more energy and cost efficient, and ensure they utilize the most modern technologies and alternatives.

The NYPSC mandated ConEd, the largest electricity provider in New York, to form a Storm Hardening and Resiliency Collaborative in an effort to prepare their utilities for future climate change. ConEd responded by preparing a Storm Hardening and Resiliency Collaborative Report which contains Collaborative results and future plans, including the goal of using newer infrastructure models such as non-wire alternatives, like microgrids. Microgrids provide electricity to a small group of facilities without the use of major power lines, so when a storm knocks out the power, this group of residences or businesses will still have electricity. Microgrid pilot projects, like those in Connecticut or Brownsville in Brooklyn, are saving ratepayers money and creating more resilient and efficient grids.

Likewise National Grid, an electric and gas company, is working to create sustainable energy solutions and support economic growth while preparing their systems for the future. In March 2014, they began expansion of the Interstate Reliability Project (IRP) in Rhode Island to increase the dependability of the area’s electric transmission system. In Massachusetts, National Grid is working to withstand expected climate change by continuously upgrading their infrastructure. Doing their best to prevent power outages during storms, National Grid will invest over $2 billion in electricity and gas infrastructure over the next five years.

Most people may not expect utility companies to come to mind when they think of the climate change-related challenges we face. But climate change is expected to produce increasingly severe storms, like Hurricane Sandy, rising sea levels, heat waves, and larger storm surges, and it is the utility companies  that must run to the rescue after severe natural disasters like these. The utilities’ opinions and insight on how to sustain our systems are imperative when modernizing infrastructure. For this reason, ConEd joined with Columbia University and similar organizations to research and strategize long-term utility resilience.

After a series of natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, the NYPSC is strengthening their utilities. The Center for Climate Change Law, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Environmental Defense Fund petitioned the NYPSC to require utilities to factor in the long-term threats posed by increasing climate change in their infrastructure and service delivery planning. In turn, NYPSC instructed ConEd to research and apply the newest technologies to defend its utilities from anticipated climate change damage. The Commission’s Order endorses $1 billion in storm hardening and resiliency.

Many of America’s major cities are located along the coast, making them susceptible to hurricanes, rising sea levels, and other climate change related events. We should all follow the examples set by New York and utility companies along the East Coast to prepare for more dramatic weather events, because it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Posted In: Infrastructure

The following blog post is from Susan Diegelman, Director, Public Affairs, AT&T.

Machine-to-machine (M2M) technology and the broadband networks that deliver its value are revolutionizing how we are shaping a greener environment. Thanks to M2M solutions, cars have become more than just machines that help us get from point A to point B and our building systems have never run more efficiently. If deployed en mass, M2M technology could provide solutions to America’s infrastructure challenges.  

The proliferation of broadband technology and M2M solutions has enabled us to more efficiently carry out green building practice; creating safe, healthy, sustainable and intelligent buildings. During the "Smart Buildings Make Happy Workers" panel at the Good Jobs Green Jobs Conference, U.S. Green Building Alliance detailed how their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings, have helped make “green buildings” into a standard practice. Several practices that were considered revolutionary at the start of LEED are now common practice and some are even now standard building code—lessening the overall impact the commercial building sector has on the environment.

A panel discussion on connected cars and their environmental benefits recognized that new options have arrived for vehicles that increase fuel efficiency and lessen environmental impact. Many of these M2M advancements address reducing harmful emissions, a priority at both state and federal levels of government. This event also highlighted additional connected car benefits, like improved design, more options for safety and security, and other choices that enhance efficiency of transportation as a whole.

Broadband enabled vehicles and smart building technologies provide significant environmental benefits with real-time data gathering, processing and analysis through M2M connectivity. Put quite simply, M2M is fueling innovation. The road to a greener future will be powered by a next-generation broadband infrastructure that covers every corner of the country and delivers the internet-based services and functionalities we need for 21st century living. 

To build, improve, and expand that advanced broadband network, our country will need skilled workers, private sector investment, and modern regulations that encourage continued innovation and help us move forward. Better informed vehicles and smarter buildings can accelerate our path to a cleaner environment, but the right infrastructure must be in place to fully unlock that potential. 

Posted In: Broadband, Infrastructure, Energy Efficiency

The following blog was originally posted on the Sierra Club's "The Planet" blog.

Good-Jobs-Green-Jobs

Last week more than 1,300 business, labor, environmental, and civic leaders -- including some 100 Sierra Club staff, volunteers, speakers, and community partners -- took part in the seventh annual Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference in Washington, D.C.

The conference, whose motto is, "Where Jobs and the Environment Meet," focused on repairing the infrastructure Americans rely on every day -- our water systems, electrical grid, transit, road, pipelines, and schools -- with an eye toward environmental sustainability and family-sustaining jobs that cannot be outsourced.

Michael-Brune-keynoteThe Sierra Club is one of the primary sponsors of the conference, along with the BlueGreen Alliance, the United Steelworkers (USW), and Alcoa.

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune (right) was among the keynote speakers on the conference's opening day. "We need to recreate our economy with clean energy that takes the place of fossil fuels," Brune said. "Everybody here knows it’s going to be a challenge to do that. But we must. The ultimate rewards for all of humanity when we achieve that goal will be greater than we can imagine. The Sierra Club is 100 percent committed to creating an economy that is 100 percent powered with clean energy."

BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director David Foster, who emceed the conference, said that "to some of our critics, 'good jobs, green jobs' is a quaint notion; that you can have both good jobs and a clean environment. But you can't solve a 21st-century problem like climate change with the 19th-century infrastructure that caused it. The theme of this year's conference -- Protect, Produce, Prosper -- sums it all up: We can create all the jobs we need and fix our environmental problems by repairing America."

A secondary theme that ran through the conference was the growing income disparity between the very wealthy and all other Americans, and how the middle class will benefit from the creation of good, green jobs. "One thing 20th-century America taught the world is that a lot of wealth in a few hands is never going to be as productive as a lot of wealth in a lot of hands," Foster said.

Leo-GerardAlso speaking at the opening plenary session were USW President Leo Gerard (at left), AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Gerard recalled that when the USW and the Sierra Club joined forces to create the BlueGreen Alliance seven years ago, their shared concerns were carbon emissions, chemical safety, and trade. "Then you come back seven years later and you see what we've done," he said. "The membership of the affiliate organizations in the BlueGreen Alliance represents 14 million Americans. Imagine what we could do to advance our agenda if we mobilized that membership."

Trumka followed, saying that the biggest challenges facing our society are climate change and restoring economic prosperity. "I'm here on behalf of the labor movement to tell you we remain committed to stopping runaway climate change," he said. "There is no other path for our children and grandchildren. We must keep up the fight for generations to come. The people who want to solve climate change must engage with the people whose jobs are at stake. The challenge of climate change can only be solved when we find a formula of clean energy that meets every day people's needs."

The conference officially kicked off the evening before with a panel discussion featuring Brune, Gerard, Jim Harrison of the Utility Workers Union of America, Rick Terven of the United Association, and Marc Norberg of the Sheet Metal Workers Union of America.

"Addressing climate disruption is an opportunity, not just an obligation," Brune asserted. "We have to be big and bold in our ambition to build a clean-energy economy that works for everybody."

Gerard emphasized how a concerted effort to upgrade America's infrastructure fits into the equation, citing the most recent Infrastructure Report Card from the American Society of Civil Engineers that gave America's infrastructure a grade of D+. The report card was mentioned frequently throughout the conference.

All the panelists were united in their belief that creating good jobs and a clean environment are not in conflict. "We don't have to decide between protecting the environment and good jobs," Harrison said.

The next two days featured three plenary sessions and more than 50 workshops organized around nine basic themes: Climate Resiliency and Adaptation; Creating Good, Green Jobs; Energy; Health and Safety; Manufacturing; Repairing our Democracy; Schools; Transportation; and Water Systems & Pipes.

Good-Jobs-Green-Jobs

Brune, Gerard, and Foster penned a welcome letter to conference attendees, entitled Uniting to Repair America. "Climate change will not solve itself," it read in part. "Good jobs will not miraculously appear to resolve our country's unemployment and inequality crisis. Good Jobs, Green Jobs is an opportunity to talk with old friends and make new connections, listen and learn about how others are finding ways to Repair America, and share your own efforts to address climate change and create good jobs in your home state."

Joining Brune in giving a keynote speech on Day One of the conference were EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, United Autoworkers President Bob King, and U.S. Congresswoman Donna Edwards of Maryland. Keynotes on Day Two were given by U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison of Missesota, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkeley of Oregon, and National Wildlife Federation President Larry Schweiger.

Ilana Solomon, director of the Sierra Club's Responsible Trade Program, participated in a moderated panel discussion at the Day Two plenary session about how trade agreements like the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership can undermine our communities and our environment and should not be fast-tracked to approval.

Sierra Club staffers and volunteers who sat on workshop panels included Solomon, Labor Program Director Dean Hubbard, New Orleans organizer Darryl Malek-Wiley, My Generation campaign organizer Allen Hernandez, Beyond Coal director Mary Anne Hitt, federal campaigns representative Liz Perera, Our Wild America campaign representative Jackie Ostfeld, and clean-energy activist Al Weinrub.

On the eve of the conference, the Sierra Club released a new report, "Workers, Communities, and the Clean Energy Economy," laying out a vision for workers in the transition to a clean-energy economy. Brune, Foster, and Gerard were joined by United Auto Workers President Bob King, Utility Workers of America President Mike Langford, and Communications Workers of America Senior Director George Kohl in a press conference announcing the report. The leaders stressed that now is the time for working families and environmentalists to come together around a strategy that can end the economic and environmental abuse of our planet and its people.

Posted In: Clean Energy, Infrastructure, Sierra Club

America is a connected by pipelines. Whether they deliver the water we drink, the natural gas that many rely on for energy, or transport waste and stormwater to be properly treated, America’s pipelines and basic infrastructure play a vital role in our lives and economy.

Many of these critical infrastructure systems have been neglected for too long, and major investments are needed. Every day there are an estimated 850 water main breaks in North America, and significant portions of America’s natural gas pipelines are more than a century old and built from materials such as cast iron and unprotected steel that are much more prone to leakage than advanced materials available today. All of this means wasted energy, wasted resources and excess carbon and greenhouse gas emissions.

Now is the time for America to invest in repairing the basic infrastructure systems we use every day. Waiting is not an option, and these investments will mean the creation of thousands of good, family-sustaining jobs all across the United States.

Those jobs will be the topic of the Water and Pipes track at the Good Jobs, Green Jobs ConferenceThe workshops will include:

Fix It Now – Rebuilding Our Cities’ Aging Pipelines (RECAP)
Monday, February 10, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Translating the Value of Infrastructure Investments
Monday, February 10, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Creating Jobs and Modernizing Water Systems Through Green Infrastructure
Monday, February 10, 3:40 PM – 5:10 PM

Green Stormwater Infrastructure: Creating Jobs, Benefitting the Community, and Building a Diverse Environmental Movement
Tuesday, February 11, 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

This blog is the ninth in a series of blogs discussing the various workshop tracks that will be happening at the 2014 Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference. Please check back and see the full workshop list for more information.  

Posted In: Infrastructure

The following blog is by David Foster, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance.                                                                                  

During the State of the Union speech, President Obama said, “Opportunity is who we are. And the defining project of our generation must be to restore that promise.” If our collective hope is for prosperity, one of the ways we can get there is by restoring the strength of the systems we rely on to get us back and forth to work, supply our power, keep us safe from floods when storms rage, and make sure we can communicate with each other. To put prosperity within our reach we need a strong infrastructure to build upon. 

It all boils down to something the president said in the State of the Union “…in today’s global economy, first-class jobs gravitate to first-class infrastructure.” 

Beneath sneaker soles and car treads, under the sidewalks and roads we travel everyday, beneath manhole covers, overhead on a vast network of wires, and even under the kitchen sink, a vital network of systems maintains our quality of life. If we take clean drinking water, electric power at the flip of a switch, or heat in the winter for granted we’ll soon be left without them. 

Beyond that, infrastructure investments and economic growth are one in the same. According to Steven Landau, a researcher in Boston at the Economic Development Research Group, weak transportation infrastructure alone will shave 0.2 percentage points off economic growth this year. On the other hand the return on investment can’t be beat: every $1 billion spent creates around 18,000 jobs. These aren’t just any jobs; in many places they’re considered the best job in town. 

And, let’s be clear. Investing in our transportation infrastructure doesn’t just mean roads and bridges, it also means investments in transit. One example is John Desm, who works at New Flyer in St. Cloud, Minnesota—a regional center. New Flyer is the leading manufacturer of heavy-duty buses in the U.S. and Canada. For 11 years, John has worked as an assembly technician. He inspects the buses that are all built to order and makes sure they meet customer standards before leaving the facility. New Flyer buses are made and assembled in America and take millions of people to home, work and school in every major American city everyday including New York City, Washington, DC, Miami, FL and Atlanta, GA. Next up is the city of Los Angeles, who ordered up to 900 buses from the company to update their fleet. That order alone is expected to create up to 150 jobs at John’s facility in St. Cloud. 

Let’s face it. Economic growth will go even further if we use American-made materials and manufacture our infrastructure components here at home. Economic studies show a total of 77,000 additional jobs could be created in manufacturing, based on an investment of $148 billion a year (including $93 billion of public investment). Smart policies like “Buy America” are already used by the U.S. Department of Transportation and they drive growth in jobs here in the United States by ensuring we’re not passing up American companies to buy from companies overseas. Our investments in infrastructure should prioritize American-made goods and raw materials to ensure we get the most from our taxpayer dollars. 

Americans of past generations were inspired by great infrastructure projects that opened up commerce and created thousands of jobs like the Interstate Highway system, Transcontinental Railroad and Erie and Panama canals.  But let’s make sure that America’s best infrastructure projects are in front of us, and not behind us. We know the state of our infrastructure needs some work—our ”D+” rating from the American Society of Civil Engineers isn’t and never will be good enough. Every now and then, it helps to be reminded of the values we share and the goals we’re all working for as the president did in the State of the Union.

 

Let’s make 2014 a year of action. In a surprising bi-partisan move five Republican and five Democratic Senators have sponsored an infrastructure bank bill. And in the U.S. House Representative DeLauro and nearly 90 other members have introduced the National Infrastructure Development Bank Act.  Let the hard work—and big rewards—of implementing this vision begin.

 

    

 

Posted In: Clean Energy, Climate Change, Energy Efficiency, Green Schools, Infrastructure

This blog was originally posted on the Good Jobs, Green Job Conference's Meeting Point blog.

In order to prepare the world for climate change, environmental responsibility and sustainability can no longer be a catch phrase or the responsibility of specific workers. We know that, instead, we must work for a world where every job is considered a “green” job. But what does that mean exactly, and what does that mean for future workers? 

As part of the Creating Good, Green Jobs workshop track at the 2014 Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference will have an opportunity to discuss these questions and gain an understanding of the jobs that are already being created as we move to a cleaner, more efficient economy.

The track’s workshops include:

Delivering on Jobs Promises
Monday, February 10, 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM

A New Pro Football Stadium Project Fights Poverty, Improves Environment While Putting People to Work
Monday, February 10, 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Making a Living on a Living Planet: Toward a More Just and Sustainable Economy
Monday, February 10, 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM

Sustainability and the Bottom Line
Monday, February 10, 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM

The Heartland Road Shows: Mobilizing Labor's Capital to Rebuild America's Infrastructure and Built Environment
Monday, February 10, 3:40 PM – 5:10 PM

The Role of Business in Repairing America & Creating a New Economy
Tuesday, February 11, 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM

This blog is the third in a series of blogs discussing the various workshop tracks that will be happening at the 2014 Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference. Please check back and see the full workshop list for more information.

Posted In: Infrastructure

Google (or Bing or Yahoo! if that’s your thing) “water main break.” Immediately, you’re inundated with story after story of water main breaks in every part of the U.S. From New York City to San Diego to Clover, South Carolina to Mitchell, South Dakota (and those are just some of the examples within the two weeks), America’s water systems are failing us.

There are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year in the United States. 

That’s enough to earn our water systems a “D+” grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

At a time when areas of America are suffering through extreme drought—like the one that’s got a grip on California and has caused a disaster declaration in 11 states—it hardly seems sensible to waste a precious resource like clean water because we’ve neglected our water pipeline infrastructure. But, because so many municipalities, states and the federal government have ignored the tremendous need for investment in water infrastructure, we’re wasting billions of gallons of water a day.

And the waste doesn’t end with water. We’re also wasting the electricity—and creating more carbon pollution driving climate change—because replacing that leaked water requires energy to pump even more water. A Chicago State University study showed that reducing the amount of water leaked annually in the U.S. by only five percent would result in saving enough energy to power 31,000 homes for a year and cut 225,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. 

But, even though the need is evident, the money put into the federal fund to help communities replace pipes that can date as far back as the Civil War (or even earlier) hasn’t kept pace. Notice the bump in 2009 and 2010 from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act? It’s one of the few times that Congress got together with the President to take significant action toward repairing America’s infrastructure systems. But, immediately after the Recovery Act expired, we’re nearly back to where we were before. Which is less than an ideal situation as corrosion and pipe age continue to take a huge toll on our water system. 

Another huge benefit to fixing America’s clean water infrastructure systems is that it will create jobs. In fact, for every $1 billion spent on clean water infrastructure in the U.S., 28,500 new jobs are added

Repairing America’s water pipeline systems is vital. We’re wasting water we can’t afford to waste, creating emissions we don’t need to be that are exacerbating climate change, and we’re missing out on thousands of family-sustaining jobs ranging from the jobs of people making repairs to the people manufacturing the components needed to replace these decrepit pipes and water systems. 

Repairing America will create family-sustaining jobs, help address climate change, and make sure our communities are safe and healthy. Take a moment and head over to our Repair America site and get the facts about the need to repair all of our infrastructure systems. You can also sign up to be a constituent co-sponsor of one of the bills that will help pay for these very needed infrastructure investments, the National Infrastructure Development Bank Act. 

Posted In: Infrastructure
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