This column is from UAW and originally appeared in The Detroit News' Labor Voices column May 8, 2014. It is availabline online here.
Just as soon as they first rolled off the assembly line, American vehicles were a symbol of freedom, a point of pride and they’ve become interminably linked with the rise of the middle class over the years. As higher fuel efficiency standards phase in — and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) moves forward with rules to cut tailpipe emissions and clean up the fuel that we put in our light- and heavy-duty vehicles — the transformation of cars from a pollution problem to a pollution solution and a trophy of clean energy innovation is nearly complete.
This week BlueGreen Alliance’s Tom Conway — our Regional Program Manager for Indiana and Illinois — testified in support of proposed Tier 3 Standards in Chicago, IL. “This investment in pollution reduction represents a significant down payment toward curbing our greenhouse gas emissions, improving efficiency and job creation,” said Conway.
The implementation costs of the Tier 3 program will be offset by savings in health costs alone, in addition to improving quality of life for all Americans. The standards enjoy broad support across industry and consumer groups. The hearings represent a culmination of progress curbing vehicle carbon pollution. Cars release approximately 333 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, which is 20 percent of the world's total, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.
The second of two EPA hearings concluded the first day of Air Quality Awareness Week. America’s working families deal firsthand with the impacts of dirty air in terms of missed work and school days, increased medical costs, and long-term health effects. Despite dramatic improvements in recent decades, ozone quality grades remain in the range of ‘C’ to ‘F’ for some areas, making it clear that there is room for improvement. EPA estimates the standards could prevent between 820 and 2,400 premature deaths annually and prevent 1.8 million lost school or work days.
Beyond improving air quality, the cost of implementing the standards will be offset by savings in health costs. Also, since pollution reduction is strongly tied to fuel efficiency, in addition to direct benefits to public health, these efforts will assist in curbing greenhouse gases that are causing climate change.
American innovation — and smart policies like Tier 3 — will contribute significantly to healthier families, cleaner skies, a strong auto industry and more opportunity for workers throughout the economy. Cleaner cars and cleaner fuels are a clear win-win for America, public health and the economy.
New numbers released by the Energy Department Monday showed more and more of the family budget is being directed to filling our gas tanks. To be exact, the Department found “gasoline expenditures in 2012 for the average U.S. household reached $2,912, or just under 4 percent of income before taxes” — the highest this particular percentage has reached in 30 years, except for 2008. The Union of Concerned Scientists also put out their own numbers, and they found vehicle owners spend almost as much on gas over the lifetime of a vehicle as they spent when the purchased the vehicle itself!
This news brings additional attention to the importance of fuel efficiency and ensuring we get those most miles per gallon. This fact is even more important, because the Energy Department determined these growing gas bills are happening despite total fuel consumption in the U.S. dropping to its lowest level since 2001— 134.2 billion gallons.
We’ve talked about the possibilities fuel-efficient vehicles create over and over again. They create jobs — the production of light-duty vehicles that can reach 54.5 miles per gallon will create, an estimated, 570,000 jobs throughout the U.S. including 50,000 in vehicle manufacturing alone. They make us more energy independent — the gas savings that can be achieved from these cars could cut U.S. oil imports by one-third by 2030. They save consumers money — consumers will save $8,000 in fuel costs over the life of a 2025 model vehicle.
The production of fuel-efficient cars is something we have repeatedly focused on at the Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conferences. Last year, United Autoworkers President Bob King explained how these vehicles have brought back America’s auto industry when he took the stage with Junior Robinson, President of UAW Local 900 at the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant, and Joe Ryan, Joint Program Coordinator at UAW Local 22 at the Hamtramck Assembly Plant. “One of the top customer demands, thankfully, is for more fuel efficient vehicles," said King. "Company after company, factory after factory, jobs are being created today making new technology."
The production of these fuel efficient vehicles will, once again, be a major topic at the 2013 Good Job, Green Jobs National Conference. One workshop that will be showcasing them is “American Jobs Through Oil Savings: A True Blue-Green Solution” at 10:30 on Wednesday, April 17. This workshop will include a panel of individuals from the labor, industry and scientific research communities talking about the jobs that can be created and the state and federal policies that will be needed to keep them coming.
Make sure to save your spot at the upcoming Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference. Early bird registration — which will save you $30 on the cost of admission — is only open until February 11, so sign up today.
Today, the White House finalized cleaner car standards that will increase fuel efficiency to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg for cars and light-duty trucks by 2025. Achieving this would nearly double the fuel efficiency of cars and pickup trucks on the road today and cut carbon emissions per vehicle mile traveled nearly in half.
Below is the BlueGreen Alliance statement from our Executive Director David Foster:
These cleaner car standards will create 570,000 new jobs here in the U.S.—50,000 in parts manufacturing and vehicle assembly of light-duty vehicles alone—and add a net increase of about $75 billion in annual Gross Domestic Product by 2030 to the U.S. economy. Fuel savings consumers will see from these cleaner, more efficient cars and light trucks will far outweigh slightly higher costs for these advanced vehicles—benefiting workers, their families, and the economy as a whole.
“These standards are an incredible victory. Already, Americans are flocking to these more fuel-efficient cars, creating jobs here at home and reducing carbon pollution and our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.
“Supported by automakers, union members, environmental organizations, consumer groups and citizens across the country, this is truly an American success story—and a model for how government and industry can work together to achieve goals that benefit our economy and environment. “
We weren't the only ones who were excited about this important event. Our labor and environmental partners also praised this effort by the Obama adminsitration to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and greenhouse gas emissions, while creating good jobs for American workers. Below are excerpts from statements from some of our partners:
United Autoworkers President Bob King
UAW President Bob King said, “These new standards will help propel the auto industry forward by giving American families long-term relief from volatile fuel prices. Lowering the total cost of driving will make automobiles more affordable and expand the market for new vehicles.”
“The standards will also provide certainty for manufacturers in planning their investments and creating jobs in the auto industry as they add more fuel-saving technology to their vehicles. Bringing this additional content to market requires more engineers and more factory workers, expanding employment in the industry,” King added. A 2012 study by the BlueGreen Alliance, “Gearing Up,” found that the standards finalized today will lead to the creation of 570,000 new jobs by 2030, largely because consumers will spend less on fuel and more on other goods and services.
“This new standard caps off a remarkable set of achievements by President Obama to save the domestic auto industry and put it on a path to long-term prosperity,” said King. “Cleaner vehicles that significantly reduce our nation’s oil consumption are good for the auto industry and its workers, good for the environment and good for our nation’s economy.”
Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke
These standards will save consumers $1.7 trillion at the gas pump and cut our oil imports by one-third. They also represent the biggest step America has taken to reduce carbon pollution and combat climate change.
Building cleaner cars is already helping regain something America lost over the last few decades. Detroit once led the world in auto design and engineering prowess, but innovations stalled and foreign competitors passed us by. Driving used to be a symbol of American freedom and mobility, but soaring gas prices resulted in costly commutes and staycations.
We can reignite America’s love affair with the open road and our patriotic pride in American ingenuity. If U.S. engineers made it possible for every new car to include a computer more powerful than the one that sent a man to the moon, then surely they can produce cars that go farther on a gallon of gas.
They can, and they are.
National Wildlife Federation President and CEO Larry Schweiger
“New fuel efficiency rules are a win across the board – drivers will save money with more efficient vehicles, automakers will get the regulatory certainty they need, and all Americans will benefit from cleaner air, a stronger economy, and greater energy security. This administration deserves credit for finding common ground among a broad range of stakeholders, showing government can work for Americans to solve our biggest environmental and economic problems.
Union of Concerned Scientists Director of Clean Vehicles program Michelle Robinson
“This is truly a watershed moment. Twenty years from now we’ll be looking back on this as the day we chose innovation over stagnation,” said Michelle Robinson, director of UCS’s Clean Vehicles program. “These standards will protect consumers from high gas prices, curb global warming pollution, cut our oil use, and create new jobs in the American auto industry and around the nation.”
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune
"With June and July registering as the hottest months on record, and droughts ravaging America’s heartland, these standards are a major victory for our planet and our families. They will also save families thousands of dollars at the pump and create more than half a million new jobs.
"American automakers are roaring back as leaders of the global market because they are delivering what consumers want -- vehicles that use less gas, emit less pollution, and save families more money at the pump. Today Sierra Club, automakers, and autoworkers stand together to celebrate success for American industry, jobs, and the environment.”
In a strong show of support for the Obama Administration’s proposed fuel efficiency standards, BlueGreen Alliance partners came together yesterday during two events in Michigan, in Lansing and Grand Rapids, to speak to how raising the bar on vehicle fuel efficiency has already and will have an impact on the economy.
“The fact that the automotive companies and UAW and the environmental community and members of Congress shows that this is a winning formula for us in Michigan and for the middle class all around the country,” said Mark Schauer during an interview with WILX News Channel 10 in Lansing.
At least 20,000 jobs will be created by 2030 in Michigan as a direct result of vehicle fuel economy standards proposed by the Obama administration, according to a new study released by the BlueGreen Alliance. Findings in the report, Gearing Up: Smart Standards Create Good Jobs Building Cleaner Cars, reveal 570,000 jobs would be created nationally from fuel savings and developing clean car technology, and 50,000 of these jobs would be created in light-duty vehicle manufacturing and assembly by 2030. This proposal for light-duty vehicles built between 2017- 2025 means fuel economy will reach an all-time high of 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) and low for emissions of 163 grams of carbon dioxide per mile (g/mi).
The report and a state-specific fact sheet were highlighted at an event in Lansing today at the Michigan AFL-CIO.
Participants at the events include Mark Schauer, Co-Chair of the BlueGreen Alliance Jobs21! Initiative, United Steelworkers (USW) District 2 Director Michael Bolton, United Auto Workers (UAW) International Representative Brian Fredline, Sarah Mullkoff from the National Wildlife Federation, USW Local #49 Recording Secretary and Grievance Chairperson Becky Sallie and UAW Local #167 Bargaining Chairman Mark Monroe.
Representatives from UAW spoke to the impact that improved vehicle fuel efficiency is already making. UAW manufactures several engine components that make vehicles more fuel efficient, including lifters, cam phasers and lightweight lash adjusters. GM invested several million dollars to support the production of these fuel-saving components here, and that investment is saving and creating jobs.
“Across Michigan, more fuel efficient vehicles are already employing steelworkers in good-paying jobs from Grand Rapids to Detroit, up to Alma and beyond,” said USW District 2 Director Michael Bolton. “Smart standards like these are putting the U.S. auto industry and the economy back on solid ground and we’re creating good jobs and vehicles that are better for our environment.”
Full coverage of the events:
WLNS News Lansing
WILX News Lansing
MLIVE: Labor and environmental leaders praise President Barack Obama's proposed fuel standards
WPRR: Working Progress Radio
WILS: The Tony Conley Morning Radio Show
Three years ago, General Motors was facing bankruptcy and laying off workers; now union members are building the parts and assembling the Chevy Cruze in factories across Ohio. As Ray Wood, President of UAW Local 14 in Toledo, said, “Who would of thought, a short three years ago when we were concerned about whether or not we would have a job, that we would now be hiring people?”
That is the success story of the Chevy Cruze: a new vehicle built in response to increasing fuel standards that is cutting gas bills while also putting thousands of Americans back to work. Lee Geisse and Tom Conway, Regional Program Managers for the BlueGreen Alliance, traveled across Ohio to interview the UAW, USW and IUE members who make the wheels, engine block, transmission and stamp metal parts for the Chevy Cruze along with union officials and elected individuals. They put these interviews together in our new video “Chevy Cruze – Creating Good Jobs in Ohio.”
Thank you to all those who participated in this video including General Motors, Dave White Chevrolet, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, Senator Capri Caffaro; and the members of USW Local 979, IUE-CWA Local 755, and UAW Locals 14, 112 and 1714.
The proposed 54.5 mpg light- and medium-duty vehicle fuel efficiency standard is critical to reducing pollution, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and to creating good jobs in the auto industry.
The BlueGreen Alliance Auto Task Force members — the United Auto Workers, Sierra Club, United Steelworkers, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Union of Concerned Scientists, and IUE-CWA — and our partners recently hosted a call with White House Council on Environmental Quality Deputy Director Gary Guzy to discuss the importance of the standard. David Foster, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance moderated the call.
THREE THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW FOR FEBRUARY 10
GM strike 75 years ago helped spark labor movement. Today marks the 75th anniversary of the victory the United Auto Workers won over GM forcing the company to sign the first ever national contract with the union. This effort also sparked the burgeoning labor movement, kicking open the door to a middle class life for working men and women.
House transportation bill gets ripped by New York Times. The New York Times didn’t mince words when describing the House transportation bill, calling it “terrible.” The editorial board gives a list of the defects it sees in the bill.
Even in Minnesota, January was warm. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has posted a map showing the January 2012 temperature departure from normal. A sea of red (meaning warmer) has engulfed the U.S.
National and International Blue-Green
Fuel Fix says gasoline prices are continuing their steady increase to $4 a gallon.
The International Energy Agency today slashed its 2012 oil demand growth forecast, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Expatica.com reports a court in northern Italy will rule on Monday in the world’s biggest asbestos trial over 3,000 alleged asbestos-related deaths.
The Chicago Tribune looks at he electric vehicles at the Chicago Auto Show.
TIME says a “smart” paint — “a cement-like mixture of fly-ash” — is helping improve the America’s bridges.
To the States
The New York Times looks at how auto recyclers in California have been exempted from the State’s rules.
A Letter to the Editor in the Washington Post says the development of off-shore wind would provide 70 percent of Maryland’s energy needs and create jobs.
A recently released study found renewable energy could become a $5 billion industry and bring 21,000 jobs to Michigan by 2015. Crain’s Detroit Business has more.
An anti-union group is trying to get right-to-work on Ohio’s 2013 ballot, according to the Republic.
The New Hampshire Union Leader says hundreds turned out Thursday to propose right-to-work legislation in New Hampshire. Huffington Post looks at why the legislation would not be a job creator for the state.
CleanTechnica: Must-Read Brief on China-U.S. Solar Trade Issue
Los Angeles Times: First new U.S. nuclear reactors in decades approved
Environmental Health News: Is cadmium the new lead? Link reported between the ubiquitous metal and kids with learning disabilities
International Business Times: Cuban Oil: Country's Ambitions Endanger Florida Coral Reefs and Coast
New York Times: As ‘Yuck Factor’ Subsides, Treated Wastewater Flows From Taps
Reuters Canada: Canada PM vows to ensure key oil pipeline is built
Wall Street Journal: Lawmakers Want Minerals on Menu for Chinese VP’s Visit
Indiana Daily Student (IN): Teachers raise concerns with right-to-work law
Las Vegas Review-Journal (NV): Silver State home to new tower of solar power
Los Angeles Times (CA): California cap-and-trade money should be spent carefully, analyst says
San Antonio Business Journal (TX): San Antonio’s clean-energy push may need more peddle power
Sun Herald (MS): Casinos raise questions on offshore drilling
The following post is from Rob McCulloch, Senior Policy and Legislative Advocate for the BlueGreen Alliance.
Public hearings in Detroit and Philadelphia spotlighted the Obama Administration’s proposal to raise new car fuel efficiency to 54.5 miles per gallon (m.p.g.) by 2025. The BlueGreen Alliance joined a chorus of voices representing labor, industry, environment, national security, public interest, academics and private citizens overwhelmingly in support of the strong standard.
Scores of individuals representing these perspectives testified in Detroit Tuesday along with United Auto Workers (UAW) President Bob King, NWF President and CEO Larry Schweiger, and BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director David Foster. In addition to the hearing, BlueGreen Alliance hammered home the message that strong standards are a win for Michigan and America.
An astonishing 200 people registered to testify in Philly’s hearing Thursday, and the national hearing tour will wrap up Tuesday in San Francisco.
Improving vehicle fuel efficiency is a cleaner, cheaper, and faster way to meet our nation’s energy needs, and has the potential to create tens of thousands of American manufacturing jobs. Rather than sending our money overseas on imported oil, we can cut global warming pollution and enhance our energy security building the next generation of clean vehicles here in America.
According to Driving Growth, a joint report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the United Auto Workers and the Center for American Progress, the current clean car standards would create up to 54,000 American jobs, in both the auto industry and the manufacturing supply chain through 2016. By 2020, getting to 40 miles per gallon would create up to 150,000 additional manufacturing jobs here in America.
The simple equation for how this job creation occurs is that the new technology required to meet strong fuel and pollution standards represents additional content on each vehicle. Bringing that additional content to market requires more engineers, more managers, and more construction, transportation and production workers.
Greater fuel efficiency allows consumers to spend less on fuel, which frees up that money to be spent on other domestic goods and services, rather than flowing to foreign nations to pay for imported oil. Right now, the U.S. spends an estimated $1 billion a day to pay for foreign oil. Clearly, that money is better spent creating jobs here in America.
Combined with the administration’s current efforts to improve vehicle efficiency and reduce pollution, by 2025 the U.S. could save an estimated 12 billion barrels of oil (equivalent to 4 years of oil consumption from U.S. light-duty vehicles) and 6 billion metric tons of CO2 (equivalent to one year of total U.S. CO2 pollution) by implementing the proposed 54.5 m.p.g. standard.
Strong standards are a win for the economy, a win for the environment, and a win for the American consumer. A diverse band of voices get that — including the automakers who worked with the many stakeholders helping craft this historic standard.
This week, and at next week’s hearing in San Francisco, that message is ringing loud and clear. As we look forward to this summer for the final rulemaking establishing 54.5 m.p.g. by 2025, this is clearly one of the biggest wins on energy, job creation and the environment we’ve seen this administration embark upon.
Labor, Environmental Leaders Laud New Standards; Call for More Efforts to Create Good, 21st Century Jobs
WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 9, 2011) The Obama administration today issued the first ever medium- and heavy-duty truck fuel efficiency and carbon pollution standards, signaling a new era in vehicle efficiency. The announcement comes on the heels an agreement on light-duty vehicle standards, which was announced in late July.
While medium- and heavy-duty vehicles — including utility trucks, delivery vans, buses, and long-haul freight trucks — make up just four percent of vehicles on the road, they consume up to 37 billion gallons of fuel every year and account for 20 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution from the transportation sector. As a result, these standards represent an incredible opportunity to lower fuel costs for truckers, cut pollution, save oil, and create jobs. The new rules are set to take effect in 2014.
Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club "The Sierra Club applauds the President’s historic announcement today. By setting fuel efficiency and carbon pollution standards for medium and heavy duty trucks, we will, for the first time, be able to clean up and improve the performance of the delivery trucks, city buses and freight trucks that Americans rely on each day, clearing our air, saving truckers and businesses money at the pump, creating jobs and bringing the nation a step closer to moving beyond oil."
James P. Hoffa, General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters: "These new standards will be vital to our efforts to clean up our nation’s ports and ensure we all can breathe cleaner air. The standards will be an invaluable tool as we work together with other unions, environmental organizations, and private and public interests in the Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports.
“But, as these standards are implemented, we must ensure that the cost of doing business and cleaning up our environment by moving to more efficient vehicles is not passed on to hardworking truckers and we instead hold the industry responsible to labor and environmental standards.”
Bob King, President, United Auto Workers: “With these new fuel efficiency standards — and the light duty standards announced recently — we truly are moving forward to a more efficient fleet of vehicles across the board. And, with this new fleet comes good jobs, a reduced dependence on foreign oil, and less pollution harming our communities and the environment. UAW is pleased to support these common sense proposals that illustrate what we can achieve when business, labor, and the public sector work together to achieve consensus.”
Larry Schweiger, President and CEO, National Wildlife Federation: “These standards will provide welcome fuel savings, budget relief, and pollution reduction to those who rely on heavy trucks to move nation’s goods and people, haul equipment on the job, or tow a boat to the lake. Truck manufacturers and workers, state and federal regulators, and conservationists stand together behind this new rule. It shows what Americans can accomplish when we work together.”
Kevin Knobloch, President, Union of Concerned Scientists: “These standards will put Americans back to work by saving fuel and sparking innovation. We have the technology to meet the standards and go even farther in the future to make our trucks cleaner, more fuel efficient, and less expensive to operate. That’s good for workers, trucking companies, and the environment.”
Peter Lehner, Executive Director, NRDC "Under these historic standards, American companies will use less fuel to move food, freight and other products and manufacturers will build cleaner trucks. This means less air pollution for our communities to breathe and less carbon pollution that threatens our climate.
"More fuel efficient heavy trucks will help businesses and consumers by lowering transportation costs while protecting the environment."
David Foster, Executive Director, BlueGreen Alliance: “The BlueGreen Alliance strongly supports the Obama administration’s efforts to build a comprehensive, national set of vehicle standards that will usher in a cleaner fleet of cars and trucks. These standards will reduce our dependence on oil, strengthen the U.S. auto and truck manufacturing sectors, create quality jobs and significantly reduce GHG pollution as America transitions to a 21st century clean energy economy.
“It’s time Washington focuses on jobs. Efforts like these today by President Obama must be part of a greater plan to close America’s jobs deficit. The BlueGreen Alliance has offered a jobs plan called Jobs21!, which focuses on keeping and creating jobs in 21st century industries, such as advanced vehicle manufacturing, renewable energy, energy efficiency, broadband Internet, transportation and transit infrastructure, green chemistry and other vital industries.”
The BlueGreen Alliance is a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations dedicated to expanding the number and quality of jobs in the green economy. Launched in 2006, the strategic partnership now brings together 10 major U.S. labor unions and four of America's most influential environmental organizations and unites 14 million members and supporters in pursuit of good jobs, a clean environment and a green economy. Visit www.bluegreenalliance.org.