BlueGreen Alliance

Good Jobs, Clean Environment, Green Economy

Jun 20

Good Jobs Green Jobs 2016: A Recap

“Leadership, innovation, forethought, and fearlessness; these are the qualities that define America, and these are the qualities that define the BlueGreen Alliance.” That was the main message of U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez during his keynote address of the 2016 Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference in Cleveland. Watch his speech here.

Secretary Perez keynoted the morning session of the Conference—which was presented by the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation—along with U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Both leaders focused on how economic progress and environmental protection go hand-in-hand and called for an end to false choices that pit the two against each other.

U.S. Senator Brown focused on driving job creation by repairing America's infrastructure and growing a clean energy economy. “For the first time in the history of the industrial age, economic growth is no longer tied to an increase in carbon emissions; we know that now. It's only a start, but dozens of nations are showing it can be done. The landmark Paris Climate Agreement not only sets the stage for a long-term reduction in carbon emissions, but it will provide opportunities for American businesses—for manufacturers, for entrepreneurs—to lead the world in these new and emerging technologies,” said Brown.

“We have a real opportunity with fixing methane leaks, putting lots and lots and lots of plumbers and pipefitters to work in dealing with climate change in an important way,” Brown continued. Watch his speech here.

Hundreds of labor, environmental, business, and civic leaders attended the event. Workshops, the BlueGreen Champions award ceremony, and more dynamic speakers took place in the afternoon.

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BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Kim Glas opened the afternoon plenary with a call to action. “America faces huge challenges when it comes to our infrastructure; there is no doubt that we need to take drastic actions to repair it. To get this done, we need strong leaders who are ready to tackle this challenge.” Watch her speech here.

Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga left the audience with an important message, “The labor and environmental movements are unique, but we have much more in common than we have in differences. Working together [the labor and environmental movements] we can ensure that new energy jobs of today and tomorrow create middle-class job opportunities in manufacturing, generation, and distribution. Leaders in the labor movement have recognized this and have built a coalition that is vital to achieving our goal of a stronger, fairer, and more prosperous America.” Watch his speech here.

Utility Workers President Mike Langford, Sierra Club Executive Director Mike Brune, and CERES President Mindy Lubber led an afternoon plenary panel, moderated by USW’s Assistant Legislative Director Roxanne Brown, to discuss clean energy jobs, transition, infrastructure, and the importance of Buy America provisions to ensure the domestic manufacturing of clean energy and energy efficiency technologies.

“We know that the U.S. is spending $450 billion less each year on infrastructure that it needs to, and as a result, we are missing out not just on safer communities and systems but we're really missing out on a huge economic opportunity,” said Roxanne Brown, when opening the panel. The Sierra Club’s Michael Brune said that the main challenge we are facing right now is not that we will switch to a clean energy economy, but how we will provide good, sustainable jobs, during and after this switch. 

“It is guaranteed that clean energy will continue to get cheaper,” said Brune. “It will become, in many cases, cheaper than most of the fossil fuels that are contributing to climate change. What is not guaranteed is whether or not those clean energy jobs will be good jobs, much less great jobs. That is the main focus, our main challenge. As a community right now, [it is our priority to make] sure that those clean energy jobs are good, high-road, family-sustaining jobs,” he continued.

Utility Workers Union of America National President D. Michael Langford said the United States needs to take a different approach when it comes to rebuilding our infrastructure in the face of climate change and more severe weather events. “The whole utility infrastructure was really turned upside down [by Superstorm Sandy]. There were literally hundreds of thousands of people without power, gas, water...Our folks see this stuff first hand all the time because the women and men of the utility workers operate and maintain all generation—gas, electric, water, nuclear, coal, renewables—and they also operate and maintain our distributions and transmission systems. They see the vulnerability and the lack of actual new technology being put into place...they are also consumers of that product; they live in the communities and its important to them to rebuild these communities.”

CERES President Mindy Lubber highlighted the opportunity before us. “To get to a 2-degree world by 2050, we need to be investing around $1 trillion a year to build the world economy and energy future we want…the issue is how do we create that future and where are the jobs, and how to we make sure that when we’re manufacturing solar panels or wind turbines or preparing all the materials for them, that those jobs are good jobs for the United States labor force and other countries for labor forces at reasonable salaries to allow people to support families and to build a future for their families.” Watch the panel here

May 6

The BlueGreen Source for Friday, May 6, 2016

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

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) 

New U.N. climate chief - Mexican diplomat Patricia Espinosa has been nominated to lead the international body’s climate change agency. As head of United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Espinosa would be in charge of enforcing and moving forward last year’s historic Paris climate agreement. She would replace Christiana Figueres, who led the UNFCCC for the past six years. (The Hill)

Spin is not science – The BlueGreen Alliance’s Charlotte Brody weighs in on new guidance proposed by the Occupational Healthy & Safety Administration (OSHA), saying, “Spin is not the same as science and the proposed Weight of the Evidence Guidance allows chemical companies to make them the same.” (DailyKos)

New national monument? – There are reports that President Obama will name New York’s iconic Stonewall Inn—the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement—a national monument. (Associated Press) 

BLUEGREEN LINKS

Legislators should reject bill that would delay state's Clean Power Plan (PennLive)

Maintain momentum to clean up Great Lakes (Duluth News Tribune (MN)) 

Koch Brothers Struggle to Block Climate Action in State Legislatures (EcoWatch

‘The water is safe’: Cleveland Water gives update on toxic materials found in Lake Erie (Fox 8 Cleveland

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Posted In: The Source
Apr 29

The BlueGreen Source for Friday, April 29, 2016

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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)

Flint aid – The stalemate in the Senate over aid to the people of Flint, Michigan to deal with their water crisis had some movement this week as the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved $9 billion in funding to help. That’s just the start of the process, though, it still has to be approved by the full Senate. (The Hill)

Sowing confusion – An editor pulls the curtain back on the inner workings of the concerted effort to sow confusion over the solid science behind climate change. (TIME)

BLUEGREEN LINKS

Obama to visit Flint amid water crisis (The Hill)

14 States Seek Clean Power Plan Guidance Despite Stay (BNA)

Michigan getting sick over climate change (Daily Climate)

In memoriam: 127 Ohioans killed at work in '15 (Canton Repository)

Climate Change Action Emerges As Winning Wedge Issue In 2016 (Think Progress)

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Apr 19

ADVOCATES TO SENATOR BROWN: REDUCE METHANE LEAKS TO CREATE JOBS, PROTECT WORKERS AND ENVIRONMENT

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.

The EPA’s proposed Emission Standard for New and Modified Sources for the Oil and Natural Gas Sector represents a huge step towards tackling methane leaks. We are hearing that this standard will get the final stamp of approval by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in the coming weeks. Stakeholders at the meeting took the opportunity to emphasize to the Senator how important it is to expand these guidelines to oil and gas equipment currently operating. These “existing sources” are estimated to account for up to 90 percent of oil and gas sector leaks and emissions by 2018.

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While the energy sector has made strides to increase the efficiency of our natural gas systems in recent years, leaking methane continues to harm communities and the environment. Leaking pipes and systems are a continuing hazard for workers and communities as methane comes packaged with health-harming air toxics. Leaks also waste valuable energy resources. Pound for pound, atmospheric methane is orders of magnitude more potent than carbon dioxide and is the second largest contributor to climate change (estimated at 10 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions).

Leaks are sometimes due to accidental releases, but often they can be attributed to outmoded practices and obsolete technology. This lost and leaking natural gas costs billions of dollars' every year— nationwide these upstream activities waste the amount of gas it takes to heat nearly 8 million homes. Ohio’s oil and gas sector wastes an estimated 13,000 metric tons of natural gas from leaks. That’s the equivalent to the amount of natural gas needed to heat 8,500 Ohio homes!

Low-cost solutions already exist to plug these industrial gas leaks and power more homes and businesses, and some companies have made the investment to deploy durable, less leak-prone systems in order to improve efficiency. However, only 1 percent of the industry has adopted these practices. This is exactly why voluntary measures aren’t enough.

Studies show that the energy sector could cut their emissions and leaks, using off-the-shelf technology, by up to half in five  years at a cost of less than 1 cent per thousand cubic feet of natural gas (mcf)—a fraction of a percent of market prices.

Ohio has 12 companies operating 16 facilities across the state producing leak reduction technologies that can make these energy activities safer and more efficient, ranking 9th among states. The potential benefits of the methane standard may be even better than we think.

Low-cost solutions already exist to plug these industrial gas leaks and power more homes and businesses, and some companies have made the investment to deploy durable, less leak-prone systems in order to improve efficiency. However, only 1 percent of the industry has adopted these practices. This is exactly why voluntary measures aren’t enough.

Upgrading industry practices and outdated technology means better working conditions and stronger job opportunities for frontline oil and gas workers. Unionized workers are eminently qualified to identify and repair leaks and implement methane-reducing technologies. They have strong training and qualification programs that ensure upgrades and repairs are done safely and effectively.

These common-sense methane standards will benefit workers and our communities. We applaud Senator Brown for taking a good part of his day to discuss why reducing methane leaks are important from the perspective of those workers and public interest advocates. Ultimately, we hope he will become an ally in efforts to establish strong rules to rein in unnecessary methane pollution from the oil and gas industry.

Posted In: Infrastructure, Climate Change
Apr 15

The BlueGreen Source for Friday, April 15, 2016

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

 

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)

Brune speaks out – Sierra Club Executive Director sits down with the Wall Street Journal to talk about why he is optimistic on climate. (Wall Street Journal

Not exactly rocket science – A new scientific study found the best way to talk to people about climate change is the common sense way: explain to them the dangers of not taking action. (Think Progress

BLUEGREEN LINKS

Lawmakers keep Flint money out of energy bill ( CNN

Women’s Equality Gets a National Monument (The Atlantic

Nations seek rapid ratification of Paris climate deal, four-year lock (Reuters

Residential Users May Join To Build Community-Based Solar Systems And Partnership (Clean Technica

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Mar 25

The BlueGreen Source for Friday, March 25, 2016

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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)

Oh, Canada – Read about the vast, shrinking northern glaciers in Canada that we never even talk about. (Washington Post)

Lead is in the air – Lead contamination isn’t just a problem in water systems around the U.S., high levels of lead can also be found in the air, as is the case for one neighborhood in Minneapolis. (Minnesota Public Radio)

BLUEGREEN LINKS

Local union members listen as labor leaders lobby against Trans-Pacific Partnership (The Beaver County Times (PA))

E-mails show feds knew of Flint rashes in mid-2014 (Detroit Free Press)

Fixing government is job one (Detroit News)

Flint Water Crisis: Failure of an MBA (Huffington Post)

Meteorologists overwhelmingly conclude climate change is real and human-caused (Washington Post)

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Mar 4

The BlueGreen Alliance Source for Friday, March 4, 2016

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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)

TPP countries are already costing U.S. jobs – A new report by the Economic Policy Institute says the U.S. trade deficit with Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries cost our nation 2 million jobs in 2015. (EPI)

BLUEGREEN LINKS

Ohio lost 112,500 jobs due to trade with TPP countries (graphic): EPI (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Dems say state blocked Flint return to Detroit water (Detroit Free Press)

USW marches in Indy to protest TransPacific deal (Chesterton Tribune (IN))

Obama’s energy efficiency rules will last, Moniz says (The Hill)

EPA head: Flint water crisis is personal (The Hill)

Proposed EPA rules in response to West explosion wouldn’t have applied to West (Dallas Morning News)

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Feb 19

The BlueGreen Source for Friday, February 19, 2016

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

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)

Slap on the wrist – The CEO of a West Virginia company that polluted Charleston’s water supply two years ago was sentenced to 30-days in jail and a $300,000 fine for his role in poisoning the water of hundreds of thousands of residents. Prosecutors had been seeking around two years of jail time. (The Hill)

BLUEGREEN LINKS

Flint residents may have been drinking PFCs in addition to lead (The Intercept)

Major natural gas leak sealed near Los Angeles (The Hill)

What Scalia’s Death Means For Climate Change (Climate Central)

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Jan 8

The BlueGreen Source for Friday, January 8, 2016

YOU SHOULD KNOW…

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)

Empty promises – An editorial says the Trans-Pacific Partnership has a “familiar hollow ring” to it. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Gas tax alternatives – Two Democrats in Congress are pushing the Obama administration to allow states to search for alternatives for the federal gas tax to pay for infrastructure spending. (The Hill)

BLUEGREEN LINKS

The US needs to warm to climate realities (The Hill)

Sen. Sherrod Brown warns against TPP threat to hurt auto industry (WFMJ)

Clean Power’s Overlooked Tool (Governing)

Poll: 70 percent believe in climate change (The Hill)

Here’s the secret to making people care about climate change (Washington Post)

The Conservative Case for Solar Subsidies (New York Times)

State apology, resignation over Flint water first step (Detroit Free Press)

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Dec 18

The BlueGreen Source for Friday, December 18, 2015

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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)

Paris Agreement – Congress is sure to try to fight against the Paris Agreement on climate change. (New Republic)

Renewable energy boom – U.S. Energy Secretary Moniz says that renewable energy is set to far exceed current levels. (CNBC)

BLUEGREEN LINKS

World Organizations React To Paris COP21 Climate Accord ( CleanTechnica)

Funds for Obama climate deal survive in spending bill ( The Hill)

The Paris Climate Pact Will Need Strong Follow-Up ( New York Times)

Senate passes overhaul of chemical safety rules ( The Hill)

Collaboration can help Montana meet emission reduction goals ( Montana Standard )

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Posted In: The Source