Blue Green Alliance Feed http://bluegreenalliance.com/news/latest/rss Blue Green Alliance Latest News Feed Tue, 24 Jan 2012 05:00:00 +0000 AMPS en hourly 1 RELEASE: County Officials, Labor and Environmental Leaders Highlight Benefits of Energy Efficiency Investments http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/release-county-officials-labor-and-environmental-leaders-highlight-benefits-of-energy-efficiency-investments Fri, 20 May 2016 10:08:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/release-county-officials-labor-and-environmental-leaders-highlight-benefits-of-energy-efficiency-investments FLINT, MI (May 20, 2016) – Genesee County Commissioners Jamie W. Curtis and Michael Lynch today joined local labor and environmental leaders from the BlueGreen Alliance to highlight the benefits the county is seeing from investments made in energy efficiency in its buildings. In 2010, Genesee County entered into a contract with Johnson Controls, Inc. to upgrade facilities as part of a performance contract. The agreement stated that the benefits during the five-year term of this Agreement would be over $3.9 million. The five-year agreement has been a resounding success. 

“Making our public buildings more energy efficient is something we can do right now to create jobs and reduce pollution,” said Chairperson of the Genesee County Board of Commissioners Jamie W. Curtis (District 3). “Through our performance contract with Johnson Controls, we’ve shown that this work can have tremendous benefits.”

“The performance contract with Johnson Controls illustrates the value that energy and water efficiency can deliver to our citizens,” said Genesee County Commissioner Michael Lynch (District 7). “Energy costs make up about 10 percent of the average municipalities budget. Every dollar that we help reduce energy expenditures is one more dollar for the county’s core needs.” 

Through this partnership, between November 2014 and October 2015, the upgrades have saved over $780,000—more than $22,000 over the guaranteed cost avoidance that was expected in the third year of the agreement.

The leaders also released a report that includes a series of policy recommendations for local and state officials to utilize to spur job growth and reduce pollution by investing in energy efficiency in Municipal, University, School, and Health Care buildings. The report found that reducing energy use in Michigan public buildings and schools by 20 percent by 2030 would create or sustain 24,000 quality full-time jobs and reduce energy use by 56,000 gigawatt hours over the life of the equipment.

 “There is a great opportunity to both create and maintain good jobs with family-sustaining wages and reduce carbon emissions driving climate change in the Municipal, University, School, and Health Care sector,” said United Association of Plumbers & Pipefitters (UA) Local 370 Business Manager Harold Harrington. 

“SMART members are also ready to do the needed work to reduce energy use in our public buildings, schools and health care facilities by replacing outdated HVAC systems, integrating new controls, repairing and replacing ducts, adding insulation, and the many other ways we can reduce waste,” Sheet Metal Air Rail and Transportation (SMART) Local 7 Business Manager Jake Denman. 

Repairing and updating homes and buildings can have a tremendous impact—reducing energy waste and creating jobs. A report released by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) found that 2.5 million people are working in the clean economy. More than 1.8 million of those jobs are in the energy efficiency sector. And, schools in particular in Michigan are in dire need of efficiency improvements. The American Society of Civil Engineers found that Michigan’s schools have about $8.9 billion of need. 

“An aggressive program to reduce energy use in Michigan's schools and health care facilities would also create good jobs with family supporting wages and benefits,” said Angela Guyadeen, deputy director, Safe Water Initiative, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “Reducing our energy and water use is the right thing to do to ensure a strong economic foundation and a clean environment for future generations here in Michigan.” 

“Making our public buildings more energy efficient is just a common sense idea,” said Sue Browne, Michigan regional program manager for the BlueGreen Alliance. “And it’s one that will grow good jobs and reduce pollution. This is work that needs to be done anyway, so let’s find ways to do it now and do it the right way with skilled, trained workers.”

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REPORT: 20 for MI: Create Quality Jobs and Reduce Pollution by Reducing Energy Use in Michigan's Schools, Hospitals, and Public Buildings http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/report-20-for-mi Fri, 20 May 2016 07:56:19 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/report-20-for-mi A new proposal by the BlueGreen Alliance shows that reducing energy use in Michigan's schools, hospitals and public buildings by 20 percent will create 24,000 jobs by 2030, save $4.5 billion in energy costs, and 56,000 gigawatts of energy. This proposal recommends the implementation of a comprehensive program to achieve deep levels of energy efficiency in Michigan's schools, hospitals, and other public buildings (also known as the M.U.S.H. sector for Municipal Buildings, Universities, Schools, and Hospitals) as a venue to create quality jobs and reduce carbon pollution.

An aggressive program to reduce energy use in Michigan's schools and hospitals would create good jobs with family -upporting wages and benefits. A school and hospital energy efficiency program could provide jobs for workers vulnerable to layoffs in power plants as well as new workers seeking a stable career in the green economy. In addition, the program can support training and education for existing building staff, engaging custodial staff and other building workers in the energy savings opportunities right at their fingertips. 

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RELEASE: Ohio Leaders Tout Benefits of New Standards to Reduce Methane in State’s Oil and Gas Industry http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/release-ohio-leaders-tout-benefits-of-new-standards-to-reduce-methane-in-states-oil-and-gas-industry Fri, 13 May 2016 09:48:47 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/release-ohio-leaders-tout-benefits-of-new-standards-to-reduce-methane-in-states-oil-and-gas-industry Methane Standards for New Sources Will Reduce Pollution, Protect Workers and Communities, and Grow and Sustain Jobs

COLUMBUS, Ohio (May 12, 2016) – Civic, environmental, labor and business leaders from around Ohio today lauded new standards by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that will curb methane emission in the state’s oil and gas sector. The standards will apply to new and modified equipment in the oil and gas industry and will help reduce methane pollution driving climate change, ensure the health and safety of workers and communities, and grow and sustain quality jobs in the state.

“We are excited that the Obama administration has finalized these standards,” said Melanie Houston, Director of Oil and Gas Policy for the Ohio Environmental Council. “These common sense standards are a step in the right direction towards reducing one of the most potent contributors to climate change.”

“I support these standards for new and modified sources that were finalized today,” said Don Bryant, Mansfield City Council Member. “They will both be good for the short term—protecting workers, reducing pollution in our air, and safeguarding the health of our families—and in the long term for our economy and our climate.”

Methane from the oil and gas industry comes packaged with other pollutants, called Volatile Organic Compounds—or VOCs—which are a key ingredient in ground-level ozone, also called smog. In addition, these leaks release a number of pollutants known as “air toxics”—such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene that are dangerous to human beings. 

“As a healthcare professional, I know that the best way to treat any disease is to prevent it in the first place,” said Dr. Peggy Berry, Certified Occupational Health Nurse Specialist. “These standards will help ensure workers and communities are not impacted by ozone and VOCs in the first place by reducing the leaks that emit them.” 

During natural gas gathering, transmission, production, and processing activities the nation’s energy sector wastes the amount of gas it takes to heat nearly 8 million homes. Ohio’s energy sector wastes an estimated 13,000 metric tons of natural gas from leaks that could be cost-effectively reduced with technologies (many manufactured in the state) and improved industry practices. Studies show that the energy sector could cut their emissions and leaks 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. 

“Doing this voluntarily won’t cut it, because most of the industry has failed to adopt these safeguards,” said Joe Holcomb, United Steelworkers District 1 Staff Representative. “We need to make sure the industry implements these low-cost solutions that already exist. That way we can plug the industrial gas leaks and power more homes and businesses.” 

Methane is the primary component of natural gas and it is a significant contributor to climate change. In fact, it is much more impactful on a pound-for-pound basis than carbon dioxide. 

“Climate change poses an increasingly dire threat to wildlife, communities, and public health,” said Liz Parker, a fly fisher. “Changes to our climate are projected to destroy essential wildlife habitat, cause habitat and species ranges to shift, increase incidence of pests and invasive species, change the chemistry of the ocean, and increase the rate of species’ extinction. We need to take action now to avoid the worst of these impacts.” 

The groups said that reducing methane will also create and sustain quality jobs in the state. Ohio has 12 companies operating 16 facilities across the state, ranking 9th among states in the methane mitigation industry, producing leak reduction technologies that can make these energy activities safer and more efficient. 

“Ohio parents are delighted to see our elected leaders and the EPA working together with labor, citizen, public health and environmental groups to support these commonsense standards that ultimately protect our health and wellbeing,” said Laura Burns, a mother of two and former biologist. 

“Ohio’s economy has benefited from the surge in domestic energy production in recent years, both through low oil and natural gas prices as well as in manufacturing the equipment helping to ramp up domestic energy production,” said Mayda Sanchez, Executive Director of the Ohio Sustainable Business Council. “We can also benefit from the effort to reduce methane emissions in the industry. The bottom line is that cost-effective solutions to reduce methane can be built here in Ohio.” 

“The finalization of this EPA standard on methane for new and modified sources is a positive step forward toward curbing emissions,” said Cheryl Johncox, Methane Organizer with the Sierra Club. “The next logical step is to move quickly with standards for existing sources, which make up the bulk of the methane pollution in the oil and gas industry. This will bring immediate improvement to air quality affecting communities living near oil and gas infrastructure.

Audio from the call can be downloaded here.

 

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STATEMENT: BlueGreen Alliance Applauds Obama Administration’s Guidelines to Fix Leaks and Reduce Methane Emissions http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/bluegreen-alliance-applauds-obama-administrations-guidelines-to-fix-leaks-and-reduce-methane-emissions Thu, 12 May 2016 10:21:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/bluegreen-alliance-applauds-obama-administrations-guidelines-to-fix-leaks-and-reduce-methane-emissions WASHINGTON, DC (May 12, 2016) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today finalized Emission Standards for New and Modified Sources for the Oil and Natural Gas Sector. Following the finalization, the partnership applauded the administration for curbing methane emissions and creating good jobs as a result of the highly skilled work needed to bring new sources into compliance with the critical public safety standards in a statement from Executive Director Kim Glas:

“Today's announcement is a significant step forward in reigning in methane emissions. We hope policymakers work to fix methane leaks and reducing emissions throughout the energy sector—including the distribution networks carrying gas underneath our cities and towns. We’re glad to see improvements regarding inspections and innovative leak reduction technology that will be enhanced by the expertise of unionized gas sector workers. We are hopeful that today's announcement is just the beginning of an industry-wide cleanup for energy infrastructure nationwide. 

“Fixing leaks and keeping gas in the system will create and maintain quality jobs, stimulate local economies, and keep front-line communities and workers safe. Our member unions—many of which represent gas sector workers—and environmental partners support this important standard reducing methane emissions at new and modified oil and gas facilities, and look forward working with national and state leaders on other policies to fix natural gas leaks."

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TESTIMONY: BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Glas Testifies Before the House Small Business Committee http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/testimony-small-business-committee Thu, 12 May 2016 09:59:04 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/testimony-small-business-committee Today, BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Kimberly Glas testified before the U.S. House Small Business Committee on the growing opportunities for U.S. manufacturers in the energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean transportation, and infrastructure sectors. Glas also made five key policy recommendations to lawmakers to strengthen the continued advancement of U.S. manufacturing. The full text of the testimony is available here 

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STATEMENT: Climate Change Has Dramatic Impact on Worker Health, Safety http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/statement-climate-change-has-dramatic-impact-on-worker-health-safety Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:37:47 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/statement-climate-change-has-dramatic-impact-on-worker-health-safety WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 28, 2016) – After the release of a new report from the United Nations Development Programme—Climate Change and Labour: Impacts of Heat in the Workplace—that showed the dangers climate change poses to workers, the BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Kim Glas:

“Climate change is already creating real problems in the U.S. and around the world. This new report only further illustrates how a warming planet impacts the health and safety of workers. The increased heat in workplaces, particularly jobs in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, will also hurt our economy by decreasing the productivity of workers.

“It is only fitting that this report was released on Workers Memorial Day. Each year, millions of Americans are killed or injured on the job and climate change and the extreme heat it will bring only exacerbates an already serious problem.

“Action needs to be taken now and in the future to protect workers. These actions could include more access to drinking water in workplaces, more frequent rest breaks, improved cooling systems, and other efforts that ensure workers are safeguarded from the heat. And, they should be part of a strategy to address climate change as a whole.”

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The BlueGreen Alliance is a national partnership of America’s largest labor unions and environmental organizations. We work together to turn today’s biggest environmental challenges into our biggest economic and job-creating opportunities. Together with 15 million members and supporters, we are a powerful, unified voice calling for good, family-sustaining jobs, a clean environment and a thriving and fair American economy. http://www.bluegreenalliance.org

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BLUEGREEN ALLIANCE STATEMENT ON SIGNING OF PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/bluegreen-alliance-statement-on-signing-of-paris-climate-agreement Fri, 22 Apr 2016 10:22:45 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/bluegreen-alliance-statement-on-signing-of-paris-climate-agreement WASHINGTON, DC (April 22, 2016) – On this Earth Day, world leaders from nearly 170 countries are gathering at the United Nations to sign the historic Paris Climate Change Agreement. The BlueGreen Alliance—a partnership of U.S. labor unions and environmental organizations—released the following statement from Executive Director Kim Glas:

“Today is a historic day, as nations from all over the world gather to sign the Paris Climate Change Agreement. This agreement represents the first significant global effort to address the crisis of climate change, and we believe it lays the foundation for ensuring that the idea of addressing climate change is synonymous with creating and securing quality jobs and economic opportunities worldwide.

“We support this critical agreement because it sets an ambitious goal of keeping the world below an increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius; because it provides strong accountability with measures to ensure transparency and verification of countries’ commitments; and most importantly, this agreement for the first time recognizes the impact of a transition to clean energy on workers and communities, and promises a regime that ensures a just transition.

“This is a strong step forward to solve the biggest challenge of our time. We applaud the Obama Administration for providing U.S. leadership in achieving this landmark deal, and look forward to working with this administration and the next to realize the promise of this agreement.”

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TESTIMONY: BlueGreen Alliance Testimony at Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Hearing on Clean Energy Jobs http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/testimony-pa-house-democratic-policy-hearing-041116 Wed, 13 Apr 2016 14:51:49 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/testimony-pa-house-democratic-policy-hearing-041116 The Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee held a public hearing at the Capitol on the benefit Pennsylvania’s economy could see by implementing clean-energy jobs on April 11. The hearing was co-chaired by Reps. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery, Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware, and Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery. The BlueGreen Alliance's Pennsylvania Regional Program Manager Khari Mosley was one of several experts to testify in front of a House Democratic Policy Hearing on clean energy jobs in the state. 

Read his testimony by clicking the link below. 

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BlueGreen Alliance Statement on Designation of Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/bluegreen-alliance-statement-on-designation-of-belmont-paul-womens-equality-national-monument Tue, 12 Apr 2016 14:17:44 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/bluegreen-alliance-statement-on-designation-of-belmont-paul-womens-equality-national-monument WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 12, 2016) – President Barack Obama today designated the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument. The following is a statement from Kim Glas, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance: 

“We applaud President Obama for today designating the Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument, formerly the Sewell-Belmont House and Museum. This house was the center of the fight for women’s suffrage and equality, and today’s designation appropriately honors the evolving roles and contributions of women to American society. 

“Before today, only eight historic sites—just two percent of all national parks—were established to commemorate women’s contributions to American history. We thank President Obama for recognizing the important contributions of American women and for his continuing efforts to create equality for all Americans.“ 

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The BlueGreen Alliance is a national partnership of America’s largest labor unions and environmental organizations. We work together to turn today’s biggest environmental challenges into our biggest economic and job-creating opportunities. Together with 15 million members and supporters, we are a powerful, unified voice calling for good, family-sustaining jobs, a clean environment, and a thriving and fair American economy. http://www.bluegreenalliance.org

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STATEMENT: BlueGreen Alliance Lauds Release of Silica Rule http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/statement-bluegreen-alliance-lauds-release-of-silica-rule Thu, 24 Mar 2016 11:19:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/statement-bluegreen-alliance-lauds-release-of-silica-rule

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 24, 2016) – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today announced a final rule to improve protections for workers exposed to silica dust. The following is a statement from Kim Glas, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance:

“We applaud the administration’s announcement of the final version of the long overdue silica rule in the presence of so few new worker protections. 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 estimated 2.2 million workers who are exposed to this carcinogen everyday all deserve the protection these new standards will offer.

“No job can be considered a good job if it is not, first and foremost, a safe job. We applaud OSHA for finalizing this rule amid staunch industry resistance and look forward to continuing to work with the agency on policies that limit workplace hazards.” 

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STATEMENT: BlueGreen Alliance Statement on Todd Stern’s Decision to Step Down as U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/statementbluegreen-alliance-statement-on-todd-sterns-decision-to-step-down-as-u-s-special-envoy-for-climate-change Wed, 23 Mar 2016 16:26:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/statementbluegreen-alliance-statement-on-todd-sterns-decision-to-step-down-as-u-s-special-envoy-for-climate-change WASHINGTON, DC (March 23, 2016) – BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Kim Glas released the following statement after the announcement of Todd Stern’s decision to step down as U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change in April:

“Climate change poses dire consequences for our environment, our economy, public health, food and national security. Over the past seven years, Todd Stern has served as U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change at the U.S. State Department. In this position, he has been a tireless advocate for stemming climate change, ultimately serving as the lead negotiator, and one of the driving forces, of the Paris Agreement. The agreement will help to reduce carbon emissions and curb the effects of climate change. Mr. Stern effectively led these negotiations and was critical in ensuring that the agreement was fair and just for working people and the environment.

“We thank Todd Stern for his contributions and tireless advocacy. We look forward to continuing to work with Jonathan Pershing on the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the development of other critical policies to address climate change.” 

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STATEMENT: BlueGreen Alliance Praises Obama Administration for Commitment to Limit Methane Emissions from Existing Oil and Gas Operations http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/statement-bluegreen-alliance-praises-obama-administration-for-commitment-to-limit-methane-emissions-from-existing-oil-and-gas-operations Thu, 10 Mar 2016 14:30:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/statement-bluegreen-alliance-praises-obama-administration-for-commitment-to-limit-methane-emissions-from-existing-oil-and-gas-operations WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 10, 2016) – The Obama administration today announced plans to limit methane emissions from existing industrial oil and gas facilities. The following is a statement from Kim Glas, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance:

"We laud the administration’s continuing efforts to reduce methane pollution and natural gas leaks. Pound for pound, methane is at least 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a climate change pollutant. Existing sources in the oil and gas industry are expected to account for up to 90 percent of methane emissions by 2018, and covering these activities is a tremendous opportunity to prompt the energy sector to invest in efficiency, reduce leaks, fight climate change, create and sustain quality jobs, and improve safety.

"Keeping natural gas in the system is good for the environment and a significant opportunity to put American workers squarely at the forefront of developing, manufacturing, and implementing technologies needed to accomplish this—providing high-quality jobs and stimulating local economies. We look forward to helping the administration to achieve their goal of reducing methane pollution by up to 45 percent of 2012 levels by 2025."

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POLICY BRIEF: Ensuring Americans Have Access to Clean, Safe Drinking Water http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/policy-brief-safe-water Thu, 10 Mar 2016 09:41:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/policy-brief-safe-water More than 8,000 children in Flint, Michigan, have been exposed to water contaminated by lead and other chemicals because of a decision by officials to change the source of the city’s drinking water. Aging pipes leached lead into the city’s tap water, poisoning residents and likely leading to chronic, irreversible health problems for thousands of young children there. 

Lead levels in drinking water are a continuing threat, not just in Flint, but in communities across the country. Many U.S. cities rely on water pipes that are more than a century old, on average. Every year, there are some 240,000 water main breaks in America, resulting in a loss of about 7 billion gallons of clean drinking water a day—which represents about 12 percent of treated water. This wastes energy, water, and disrupts businesses and communities. Investment in our nation’s water infrastructure is critical to public health, economy and quality of life. It will create thousands of jobs replacing and upgrading water pipes, treatment plants, storage tanks, and installing more sustainable and resilient water systems. These solutions require long-term commitment at all levels of governance, and the urgency.

View the policy brief to view our recommendations.

The audio of the call releasing this policy is available below. 

Flash Required

 

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STATEMENT: BlueGreen Alliance Applauds Reauthorization of Safe Pipes Act http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/statement-phmsa Fri, 04 Mar 2016 10:53:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/statement-phmsa WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 4, 2016) - Following the Senate’s reauthorization of the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011, also known as the Safe Pipes Act, the BlueGreen Alliance released this statement from Executive Director Kim Glas:

“We applaud the Senate for reauthorizing the Safe Pipes Act, important legislation that enables the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to carry out its mission of protecting the public. Right now, PHMSA is working to establish rules that will facilitate upgrades to safer, more efficient technology and help ensure workers get the best training before making repairs to leaking pipes.

“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 workers.”

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The BlueGreen Alliance is a national partnership of America’s largest labor unions and environmental organizations. We work together to turn today’s biggest environmental challenges into our biggest economic and job-creating opportunities. Together with 15 million members and supporters, we are a powerful, unified voice calling for good, family-sustaining jobs, a clean environment and a thriving and fair American economy. http://www.bluegreenalliance.org

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STATEMENT: BlueGreen Alliance Statement on President’s FY 2017 Budget http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/bluegreen-alliance-statement-on-presidents-fy-2017-budget Tue, 09 Feb 2016 13:24:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/bluegreen-alliance-statement-on-presidents-fy-2017-budget WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 9, 2016) Following the release of President Barack Obama’s FY 2017 Budget, the BlueGreen Alliance released this statement from Executive Director Kim Glas:

“We applaud President Obama’s continued commitment to building a thriving, clean economy. In particular, we laud this budget’s dedication to clean energy and energy efficiency, to modernizing and making safer America’s transportation and natural gas systems, and to making vital investments in international climate efforts and resiliency. In addition, the budget will help ensure we are building next generation of clean energy and transportation technologies here in America and expanding access to apprenticeships—and the good jobs that go with them.

“The budget will also aid workers and communities impacted by the transition to a clean economy with increased funding for the Power+ Initiative. However, Congress needs to show the same commitment by fully funding this program. The needs are great to ensure impacted workers and communities have the resources necessary to retrain workers and create jobs.

“As the Flint water crisis has shown, there is a dire need for strong investments in our nation’s drinking water infrastructure. While this budget increased funding for drinking water, it decreases funding for waste water systems. There should be room in the budget for both drinking water safety and other investments that safeguard America’s water.

“The president’s final budget makes critical investments in creating good jobs and protecting the environment, workers and communities, and we look forward to working with the administration and Congress to further these priorities.”

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RELEASE: Ohio Women Leaders Call for State Blueprint to Meet EPA’s Clean Power Plan http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/release-ohio-women-leaders-call-for-state-blueprint-to-meet-epas-clean-power-plan Thu, 28 Jan 2016 10:29:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/release-ohio-women-leaders-call-for-state-blueprint-to-meet-epas-clean-power-plan COLUMBUS, Ohio (January 28, 2015) Prominent civic, labor and community women leaders today spoke out in favor of Gov. Kasich taking action to implement a state blueprint to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan that will create and sustain quality jobs, improve the air quality in the state to protect public health, and create economic opportunity for all Ohioans. The EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) puts the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from existing sources, like power plants. The CPP gives states flexibility and the opportunity to draw up their own blueprints—called State Implementation Plans—to meet the carbon pollution reduction target.

"It is time to reinstate Ohio's strong renewable energy and energy efficiency standards and reduce harmful power plant emissions through implementation of the Clean Power Plan," said State Representative Nickie Antonio. "We simply cannot afford any more delays in protecting our economy, our environment, and our health—especially the health of our children."

Meeting the CPP will also benefit public health. The EPA estimates climate and health benefits worth an estimated $55 billion to $93 billion in 2030, including avoiding 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children.

Those benefits are why Columbus-area mother Michelle Timmons, whose son has asthma, strongly supports acting now to create a state plan.

"As parents, we always want what is best for the future of our children," said Michele Timmons, a Reynoldsburg mother with an asthmatic son. "By implementing the Clean Power Plan and restoring Ohio’s clean energy standards, our state’s leaders have the opportunity to stand up for the health of our kids. It is the right thing to do, and it will make this mother proud to be an Ohioan." 

The event, which took place at the Ohio Statehouse in the Ladies’ Gallery, also focused on the need for lawmakers and Gov. Kasich to “unfreeze” the state’s clean energy and energy efficiency laws. The laws were put on hold by the legislature and Kasich in 2014.

“Cleaner energy and energy efficiency can be opportunities to grow quality jobs,” said Teresa Hartley, United Steelworkers District 1 Women of Steel Coordinator. “From the manufacturing of renewable energy component parts and power plants themselves, to construction, installation, maintenance, and operation of these cleaner energy systems, our state stands to gain from smart policies and strategic investments that build a clean energy economy right here in Ohio.”

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LETTER: BlueGreen Alliance Letter to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/letter-bluegreen-alliance-letter-to-michigan-gov-rick-snyder Wed, 13 Jan 2016 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/letter-bluegreen-alliance-letter-to-michigan-gov-rick-snyder Members of the Michigan BlueGreen Alliance sent a letter to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder urging for the State Plan to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions and bolster the state's economy. The leaders believe identifying the appropriate mix of approaches to reduce carbon emissions in the power sector that meets the state target will also bolster new and emerging sectors of the efficiency and no- and low-carbon emitting energy economy.

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STATEMENT: President Obama Will Leave a Lasting Climate Legacy http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/statement-president-obama-will-leave-a-lasting-climate-legacy Tue, 12 Jan 2016 21:05:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/statement-president-obama-will-leave-a-lasting-climate-legacy WASHINGTON, DC (January 12, 2015) – After the conclusion of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, the BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Kim Glas:

“Seven years after President Obama took office, our economy is getting back on track and the United States has taken the most significant action yet to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that will help to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. From early investments in the clean energy economy, to the Clean Power Plan, vehicle emissions rules, the Paris agreement, and standards to reduce natural gas leaks, President Obama has set the stage to address climate change in a way that creates and maintains quality jobs.

“However, there is still more to be done. The Obama administration can continue this work by finalizing standards to reduce natural gas leaks in new and modified energy facilities, and extending those standards to existing facilities. In addition, as states work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, President Obama and Congress should jumpstart efforts to provide transition assistance for workers and communities impacted by America’s energy transition. Finally, we remain concerned about how the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will impact jobs and the environment. The TPP is neither a fair nor just agreement, and if approved by Congress, will cost American workers their jobs and put our hard-won workplace and environmental protections at risk. Congress should reject it.

 “We thank President Obama for his leadership and dedication to building a stronger, fairer economy and protecting our environment. We are proud to have supported these efforts and look forward to continuing to work with him to achieve more great things this year.”

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The BlueGreen Alliance is a national partnership of America’s largest labor unions and environmental organizations. We work together to turn today’s biggest environmental challenges into our biggest economic and job-creating opportunities. Together with 15 million members and supporters, we are a powerful, unified voice calling for good, family-sustaining jobs, a clean environment and a thriving and fair American economy. http://www.bluegreenalliance.org

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STATEMENT: BlueGreen Alliance Lauds International Climate Agreement http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/statement-bluegreen-alliance-lauds-international-climate-agreement Sat, 12 Dec 2015 09:31:37 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/statement-bluegreen-alliance-lauds-international-climate-agreement WASHINGTON, DC (December 10, 2015) – Following the release of the final text of the Paris Agreement awaiting adoption at COP21 in Paris, the BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Kim Glas:

 “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. The Agreement does right by us all because it sets a goal and structure that could keep our world below 1.5 degree C of warming. The Agreement also made significant progress towards helping developing nations fund efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and in ensuring both transparency and verification of everyone’s commitments. Enforcement and follow through are now key.

“While it is no doubt a victory for working people that strong reference to a just transition and decent work was included in such a landmark deal, its placement is solely in the preamble. Rest assured, we will continue to fight for just transition—along with human rights, gender equality and the other core social issues that were in the text going into COP21—to become an operational item within the structures created in the Agreement and the UNFCCC. Still, the inclusion in the preamble is without a doubt a call to action to all nations to take on climate change in accordance with the needs of their people, and we plan to hold them accountable.

“We have been honored to stand alongside the diverse representation of civil society—labor, environment, human rights, youth, justice, gender equality, indigenous peoples and others—in this journey towards a world that is fair, just and not ravaged by climate change. We are not there yet, but that world is in sight.”

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The BlueGreen Alliance is a national partnership of America’s largest labor unions and environmental organizations. We work together to turn today’s biggest environmental challenges into our biggest economic and job-creating opportunities. Together with 15 million members and supporters, we are a powerful, unified voice calling for good, family-sustaining jobs, a clean environment and a thriving and fair American economy. http://www.bluegreenalliance.org

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RELEASE: U.S. Labor, Environmental Organizations Call for Effective, Accountable and Just International Climate Agreement http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/release-u-s-labor-environmental-organizations-call-for-effective-accountable-and-just-international-climate-agreement Mon, 30 Nov 2015 09:04:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/release-u-s-labor-environmental-organizations-call-for-effective-accountable-and-just-international-climate-agreement WASHINGTON, DC (November 30, 2015) – As world leaders gather in Paris today, the BlueGreen Alliance, a partnership of U.S. labor unions and environmental organizations, called on countries to reach an international climate agreement that reflects several key principles to ensure that such an agreement is effective, accountable, and ensures a just transition for workers and communities across the world.

“It is absolutely critical that countries reach an agreement in Paris over the next few weeks that takes the first step to address climate change,” said Kim Glas, Executive Director of the U.S.-based nonprofit organization. “We need an agreement that is not only effective in staving off the worst impact of climate change, but one that also ensures fairness and a just transition for workers and communities in the United States and across the world.”

The BlueGreen Alliance outlined several principles for an effective, accountable and just international climate change agreement. Among them, the partnership urged that the agreement set a transformational long-term goal and ensures a review of nations’ commitments every five years to ensure that we are increasing the level of ambition to meet scientific reality.

The BlueGreen Alliance also strongly urged that Just Transition and Decent Work language be included in both the preamble and operational articles of the agreement. Such language acknowledges that the transition to a clean energy economy requires the resources, policies and priorities needed to retool our nation, create family-sustaining jobs, strengthen and grow no- and low-carbon sectors, and ensure communities are healthy and safe.

The partnership also urged that an agreement include the necessary means for measurement, verification and review, as well as provisions for biennial reporting and review, saying that these measures were necessary to ensure a level playing field for globally competitive manufacturing while ensuring we meet our environmental objectives.

“Ensuring a strong, binding agreement to reduce carbon emissions worldwide is an essential first step in addressing climate change,” said Glas. “Just transition, transparency and accountability are critical to ensuring fair playing field for workers and communities at home and abroad. We hope that Paris will represent a turning point where the world focuses on serious action to achieve reductions in carbon pollution to address the threat of climate change.”

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COP21: Statement of Principles http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/cop21-statement-of-principles Sun, 29 Nov 2015 17:36:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/cop21-statement-of-principles The BlueGreen Alliance, representing many of our nation’s biggest and most impactful labor unions, environmental, conservation, and science organizations, has been active at the UNFCCC since 2008 in Bali, and since COP15 in Copenhagen has publicly called upon world leaders to come together to forge an agreement which adheres to the principles of scientific urgency, fairness, and justice. 

COP21 in Paris will be the most consequential of these meetings, and we hope will represent a turning point where the world focuses on serious action to achieve reductions in carbon pollution in line with scientific urgency and to drive investments in our people and communities that improves their livelihood. 

Solving climate change should simultaneously build resilient infrastructure, improve community health and safety, safeguard wildlife, and strengthen and create economic opportunities and sustainability for all citizens. In Paris, we have an opportunity to achieve critical progress towards securing our environmental and economic future. We offer the following five principles that we believe will achieve this comprehensive vision: 

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RELEASE: Labor, Environmental Leaders Call on Congress to Reject Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/release-labor-environmental-leaders-call-on-congress-to-reject-tpp Tue, 10 Nov 2015 11:40:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/release-labor-environmental-leaders-call-on-congress-to-reject-tpp WASHINGTON, DC (November 10, 2015) – Leaders from the BlueGreen Alliance—a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations—and their allies today reacted to the final text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was released late last week. The leaders identified four key areas where the agreement falls short—including the risk to American manufacturing jobs, the Investor-State Dispute System, and labor and environmental standards—and urged Congress to vote “no” on the TPP.

"The TPP undermines our manufacturing sector and, like NAFTA, KORUS and other free trade agreements before, will ship good-paying American jobs overseas," said Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers. "The TPP would richly reward gigantic multi-national corporations that already have moved or plan to move U.S. factories to low-wage, low-standard TPP countries. This is a bad deal for American workers."

Gerard pointed to the impact of past trade agreements, including the last ratified agreement completed in 2012 between the U.S. and Korea (KORUS), which caused a net loss of 75,000 jobs, according to the Economic Policy Institute. In the first three years after that agreement took effect, U.S. domestic exports to Korea increased by only $0.8 billion—or 1.8 percent. Imports from Korea increased $12.6 billion, an increase of 22.5 percent.

The leaders also highlighted the TPP’s flawed Investor-State Dispute System (ISDS), which could allow an unelected tribunal to veto America’s environmental and labor laws at the behest of corporations. The system also allows companies to be compensated for damages.

“Corporations have been using the dangerous investor-state dispute settlement process to attack common-sense air, water, and climate protections for years. The TPP would only make a bad situation worse, expanding this system to thousands of new corporations for the first time ever,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “The TPP is a toxic deal for American families. We can’t afford to trade away our ability to protect workers and communities, our environment, and our climate. This corporate giveaway is just another reason why Congress should reject the TPP.”

"Even a cursory review demonstrates how the Trans-Pacific Partnership fails working families. It forces the U.S. to compete with countries with low-wage workers. It's a deal negotiated by and for the 1 percent, and our broad coalition will continue to oppose it," said Communications Workers of America (CWA) President Chris Shelton.

Celeste Drake, Trade Policy Specialist for the AFL-CIO, raised concerns about how the agreement will impact the rights of working people.

"The TPP is a corporate rights agreement that threatens good jobs and wages in the U.S. while allowing worker abuses abroad to continue unabated,” said AFL-CIO Trade Policy Specialist Celeste Drake. “Instead of incorporating new mechanisms to create a race to the top for workers and the environment, it repeats the special interest giveaways we’ve seen in past agreements.”

In terms of environmental protections, the groups said that the agreement may not force countries to live up to obligations on key international agreements or to stop illegal and unsustainable activities that are destroying the ocean, wildlife, and forests.

"This trade agreement would allow foreign corporations to challenge our health, safety and environmental protections in a foreign tribunal outside our legal system, and it would weaken those bedrock safeguards in the United States. While there are some positive conservation measures, the agreement's substantial shortcomings should lead Congress to reject it," said Jake Schmidt, International Program Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

The audio of the call is available here

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LETTER: Labor, Environmental Leaders Call for Just Transition Language in Paris Climate Agreement http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/letter-just-transition Tue, 03 Nov 2015 16:00:23 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/letter-just-transition Labor and environmental leaders wrote a letter to U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern to thank him for supporting inclusion of Just Transition language in negotiating text for the eventual Paris agreement, and to strongly encourage him to ensure that language remains operational in the final agreement. Broadly, the leaders expressed a collective desire for action on climate change that builds resilient infrastructure, improves community health and safety, safeguards wildlife, and strengthens and creates economic opportunities and sustainability  for all citizens. 

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STATEMENT: Time for States to Move Forward to Meet Clean Power Plan http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/statement-clean-power-plan-fed-reg Fri, 23 Oct 2015 09:04:34 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/statement-clean-power-plan-fed-reg WASHINGTON, DC (October 23, 2015) – After the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan was officially published in the Federal Register—an important procedural step that marks the beginning of implementation, interpretation and review of the rule—the BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Kim Glas:

“Today, the Clean Power Plan moves forward. States should now take the proactive step of developing an implementation plan that reduces emissions and creates and secures good jobs.

“Done right, state implementation plans can and should expand renewable energy, invest in energy efficiency—including for industrial facilities—and make traditional generation cleaner and more efficient. These are solutions that will help states meet these goals while maximizing the creation of good jobs in communities across America.

“However, as America continues this move to clean energy, we must provide assistance to those communities negatively impacted by this transition. States can and should provide support directly to workers and communities, recognizing adverse job and community impacts where they may occur and creating an integrated program to specifically and directly address them."

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LETTER: BlueGreen Alliance Letter to the U.S. International Trade Commission http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/letter-environmental-goods-agreement Mon, 19 Oct 2015 13:13:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/letter-environmental-goods-agreement The BlueGreen Alliance and its 15 labor and environmental partners recognize the importance of fair trade to the proper functioning of the global economy and to meeting the needs of global businesses, workers, and consumers. America’s economy depends in large part on our ability to export domestically manufactured goods to markets around the world. However, we are also deeply concerned about the potential economic and environmental impacts of international trade agreements currently being discussed and negotiated, including the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA), which is the subject of this investigation. 

Too often, international trade has enabled a global race to the bottom for workers and the erosion of environmental protections. Instead of free trade, which simply removes as many tariff and non-tariff barriers as possible, the United States should be negotiating “fair trade” agreements that improve  quality of life and raise standards protecting workers, consumers, and the environment. 

In the context of the current EGA negotiations, the U.S. Trade Representative has sought to expand the list of environmental goods identified by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. However, while some of the goods identified to date are arguably beneficial to the environment, the list has grown to increasingly include a host of goods for which the connection to environmental benefit is at best tangential and, at worst, actively detrimental to the environment. 

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