WASHINGTON, DC (February 11, 2013) The day before the State of the Union address, BlueGreen Alliance leaders called on President Barack Obama to launch a national dialogue on climate change and to make it a top priority in his second term. In addition, the labor-environmental partnership highlighted the steps needed to address climate change, rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure and to create quality American jobs.
“It’s time we move forward with a bold vision to get the systems we rely on every day in America –power, water, transportation, and communications – back to where we need to be to safeguard our communities as best we can,” said BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director David Foster. “We’re calling on President Obama to lay out a clear path for reducing carbon pollution, rebuilding America’s infrastructure, creating good jobs and building a stronger, cleaner, and fairer economy.”
The steps included improving energy efficiency to reduce carbon pollution from power plants and upgrading our electrical transmission systems. In addition, the partnership called for improving energy efficiency in manufacturing, which will make the sector cleaner and more efficient, and deploying clean energy manufacturing.
“In order to address climate change, we need to make our industries more efficient. We need to invest in new sources of power, including wind and solar, and we need to manufacture the clean energy infrastructure and its products here in America,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. “Today, we’ve put forward common-sense steps America can take to be ready for the changing climate, and each of these steps will also create good jobs that will get the economy moving.”
Noting the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the region’s basic infrastructure systems and that some union members are still working to repair the electrical grid, the coalition called for rebuilding our energy, water, pipe, and transportation systems, as well as improving the efficiency of the U.S.’s building stock — including schools — to achieve significant energy savings and emissions reductions.
“By investing now in our infrastructure, including energy and water infrastructure, we can cut down on inefficiencies, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create good American jobs and ensure that our infrastructure is reliable in the face of the impacts of climate change,” said Mike Langford, President of the Utility Workers Union of America.
“Last year was the hottest year on record in the U.S., and we all saw the tragic impact that extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy had on communities around the country,” said Union of Concerned Scientists President Kevin Knobloch. “Extreme weather is going to be much more common as climate change continues and we need to get our country ready for it. The President has made it clear that action on climate change will be a priority in his second term, and the highest priority is to make our energy systems, manufacturing facilities, transportation options and infrastructure more resilient while deeply reducing heat-trapping emissions from every source.”
The Six Steps are as follows:
- Improving efficiency to reduce carbon pollution from power plants, while bolstering the transition with a dedication to economic development, as well as upgrading transmission distribution systems across the board, will make America's electricity distribution system cleaner, smarter, more efficient, and more resilient.
- A sincere, dedicated investment in industrial energy efficiency and clean energy manufacturing is needed in this country. Improving industrial energy efficiency and deploying clean energy manufacturing will make the U.S. manufacturing sector cleaner and more competitive.
- Updating our schools, homes and businesses will create energy savings and reduce emissions. And those updates will not just create jobs in construction, but also in the supply chain creating the needed materials to do them.
- America’s century-old water infrastructure damaged by the elements, age, and population growth. We must rebuild our water systems with complementary sustainable, green infrastructure will create jobs and ensure clean water for generations.
- Across the country, pipelines are leaking pollution into our air and water. We can fix this by fixing existing pipelines and improving oversight and implementing strong pipeline safety regulations.
- America needs transportation networks that move people and goods efficiently. Building a 21st century, multi-modal transportation system will ensure our nation competes effectively in the global economy.
The BlueGreen Alliance is a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations dedicated to expanding the number and quality of jobs in the clean economy. Launched in 2006, the strategic partnership now brings together major U.S. labor unions and America's most influential environmental organizations and unites more than 15 million members and supporters in pursuit of good jobs, a clean environment and a green economy. Visit www.bluegreenalliance.org.