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 STATEMENT: BlueGreen Alliance Statement on Final Truck Standards http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/statement-bluegreen-alliance-statement-on-final-truck-standards Tue, 16 Aug 2016 15:06:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/statement-bluegreen-alliance-statement-on-final-truck-standards WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 16, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today released the final Phase 2 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles. The BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Kim Glas:

“From super-duty pickups in Ohio to advanced engines and transmissions in Michigan, and from innovative long-haul trucks in North Carolina to electric transit buses in South Carolina and California, American workers are building some of the cleanest advanced trucks in the world. With today’s finalization of Phase 2 medium and heavy-duty vehicle standards, the United States takes another step forward in curbing climate change while providing tools to rebuild America’s manufacturing economy.

“Its not just small cars that are combating climate change—the innovation taking place in larger vehicles plays a critical role in reducing carbon emissions. The latest standards build on ongoing fuel economy progress and are estimated to cut emissions by 1.1 billion metric tons and reduce foreign fuel dependence by up to 2 billion barrels.

“At the same time, the auto industry anchors American manufacturing. Since the recession, the auto industry has brought back nearly 700,000 direct jobs. But more still needs to be done. Care should be taken to ensure that implementing this standard supports jobs and job growth across the industry, and that there is sufficient support for continued investment in manufacturing innovative, efficient vehicles of all types—and the components, materials, and technology that goes into them—which is a critical part of creating and maintaining more good jobs in the United States.

“Under these vehicle standards, working in concert with sound manufacturing policy, American companies and workers are demonstrating that the nation can lead in combating climate change while creating American jobs and making America’s auto sector one of the most technologically advanced and competitive in the world. We are committed to seeing this trajectory continue.”

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PRESS RELEASE: United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Resolves to Support Designation of Bears Ears National Monument http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/press-release-united-association-of-plumbers-and-pipefitters-resolves-to-support-designation-of-bears-ears-national-monument Thu, 28 Jul 2016 14:33:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/press-release-united-association-of-plumbers-and-pipefitters-resolves-to-support-designation-of-bears-ears-national-monument WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 28, 2016) The BlueGreen Alliance today applauded the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters (UA) for its recent resolution to support designation of the Bears Ears region in southeastern Utah as a national monument. In addition, three UA local unions—Local Unions 140, 669, and 798—signed onto the resolution. The Bears Ears region covers 1.9 million acres of national public lands. Twenty-six tribes are advocating for President Obama to designate these lands as a national monument because Bears Ears is important for the livelihoods and cultural practices of many of these tribes.

“Bears Ears and the surrounding 1.9 million acres of public land hold a rich history of the Native American tribes whose livelihoods, identities, and cultural practices are connected to these beautiful and currently unprotected lands. Our union has many Native American members who call this land their spiritual home,” said William P. Hite, General President of the United Association. “We believe that these lands should receive permanent protection under the Antiquities Act of 1906, and are proud to support the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition in the preservation and protection of these ecologically and culturally significant lands.”

Boasting 18 wilderness study and inventoried road less areas and over 100,000 archeological sites, the Bears Ears region is threatened by looting, vandalism, and damage from off-road vehicles, which is causing permanent damage to cliff dwellings, burial grounds, and wildlife habitats, as well as the scenic beauty of the land.

“It is important that this land is protected and remains intact so that we can enjoy its rich history and ecological resources for generations to come,” said Kim Glas, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance. ”We strongly support ensuring the preservation and protection of Bears Ears, and urge the Obama administration to move quickly to protect these historically significant lands. We are incredibly proud of the UA for leading on this issue.”

The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States, Canada (UA), affiliated with the national building trades, represents approximately 340,000 plumbers, pipefitters, sprinkler fitters, service technicians and welders in local unions across North America. The UA provides the premier training programs available in the industry today, including five-year apprenticeship programs, extensive journeyman training, a comprehensive, five-year instructor training program, and numerous certification programs.

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United Association Resolution Supporting the Designation of the Bears Ears National Monument http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/united-association-resolution-supporting-the-designation-of-the-bears-ears-national-monument Thu, 28 Jul 2016 11:41:32 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/united-association-resolution-supporting-the-designation-of-the-bears-ears-national-monument Please Join Us: The BlueGreen Alliance Talks Infrastructure in Camden http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/repairing-america-bluegreen-alliance-talks-infrastructure-in-camden-during-democratic-national-convention Tue, 19 Jul 2016 10:19:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/repairing-america-bluegreen-alliance-talks-infrastructure-in-camden-during-democratic-national-convention Join us on Monday, July 25, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. in Camden, New Jersey, during the Democratic National Convention for a panel on driving infrastructure investment, creating jobs, and building stronger cities:
 

REPAIRING AMERICA

How Camden Invested in Infrastructure to Create Jobs and Build A Sustainable Economy

Please join us for a special panel discussion during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia—using the success story of Camden, New Jersey, as the backdrop of our discussion—as local and national leaders discuss the city’s economic revitalization and importance of infrastructure investment to drive a vital and sustainable American economy.
 
The panel will feature:
  • Congressman Donald Norcross (D-NJ-1)
  • Camden New Jersey Mayor Dana Redd
  • Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) COO & President Ralph LaRossa
  • Utility Workers Union of America National President Mike Langford
  • United Association International Representative David Donato
  • IBEW International Representative Wyatt Earp
  • BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Kim Glas
  • Moderator: Bloomberg Government’s Loren Duggan
 
Monday, July 25, 2016 • 10:00 a.m.
Adventure Aquarium, 1 Riverside Dr, Camden, NJ 08103
 
Parking available on-site; Location is 10-minute drive from the Philadelphia’s 30th Street Train Station
 
RSVP to Linda Nielsen (lindan@bluegreenalliance.org) by Friday, July 22.
 
          
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STATEMENT: BlueGreen Alliance Welcomes Release of Technical Assessment Report http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/statement-bluegreen-alliance-welcomes-release-of-technical-assessment-report Mon, 18 Jul 2016 13:35:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/statement-bluegreen-alliance-welcomes-release-of-technical-assessment-report WASHINGTON, DC (July 18, 2016) – Following today’s release of the Technical Assessment Report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Kim Glas:

“We welcome the release of the Technical Assessment Report, which is the first step in the Midterm Evaluation of the 2017-2025 Light-Duty Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Standards. We look forward to reviewing this assessment in detail, and commend the manufacturers and workers all across America who are already meeting the challenge of building an innovative new generation of vehicles.

“America’s landmark fuel economy standards are working. These well-crafted standards, working hand-in-hand with sound manufacturing policy, have shown that the nation can lead in combating climate change while rebuilding American jobs and manufacturing. These environmental and economic objectives remain critical. These standards have helped to deeply reduce carbon emissions, saved consumers money and fuel, and spurred innovation and investment across all types of vehicles and components—creating job growth and developing a more robust and innovative supply chain across the industry.

“This Midterm Evaluation provides an opportunity to take stock of the major progress to date, and we look forward to working to ensure this critical momentum continues."

###

Photo Credit: Ford Motor Co.

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BACKGROUNDER: Sound Vehicle Standards & Policies Drive Strong Job Growth http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/backgrounder-sound-vehicle-standards-policies-drive-strong-job-growth Tue, 12 Jul 2016 15:21:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/backgrounder-sound-vehicle-standards-policies-drive-strong-job-growth The goal of the Midterm Evaluation of the 2017-2025 passenger car and truck fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards is to assess technology deployment and cost, but the review naturally spurs a broader discussion of the standards’ impacts, including on jobs. The potential impact is significant as the auto industry sits squarely at the center of advanced manufacturing and the U.S. economy.

Here’s what we know:

Implementation of the fuel economy standards to date has happened simultaneously with a dramatic recovery of the U.S. auto industry.

  • Five years into implementation, the standards are on track and are delivering deep cuts in fuel use and carbon pollution. Over the same period, U.S. automakers have made a dramatic return to profitability and to record sales of more fuel-efficient vehicles across the fleet.   

Since the recession, overall job growth in the industry has been strong, aiding a recovery of U.S. manufacturing as a whole.

  • The U.S. auto industry has added nearly 700,000 direct jobs since the recession low point in mid-2009.[1] These jobs support several million indirect jobs throughout the economy.
  • Direct jobs added include: More than 300,000 added jobs in motor vehicle and parts manufacturing, and 380,000 added jobs at auto dealers. This brings total manufacturing employment in the industry to 930,000—representing nearly 50 percent growth since 2009, and bringing employment at auto and parts dealers to 2 million, which is its highest level ever.
  • Auto manufacturing jobs accounted for 40 percent  of all net jobs added in U.S. manufacturing since the recession.
  • The auto industry hasn’t yet brought back the several hundred thousand manufacturing jobs lost in the decade before the recession, but the past seven years have seen the first period of sustained growth in automotive manufacturing—or in U.S. manufacturing jobs as a whole—since 1999.

Studies predicted added job growth as a result of the standards—and appear to be directionally accurate. 

  • Studies  done between 2010 and 2012—including EPA’s own analysis as part of the rulemaking—predicted additional manufacturing job growth in the range of 50,000- to 100,000 jobs by 2025-2030 as a result of one or both rounds of standards, above and beyond business as usual industry investments or employment levels.[2]
  • These added jobs come from enhanced investment to develop, manufacture and incorporate additional technology necessary to improve fuel efficiency and meet the standard.
  • The scale of added manufacturing job growth is strongly dependent on the share of these new technology manufacturing investments made in the United States.[3]
  • Macro economic studies also looked at total employment impacts of the standards due to direct and indirect job growth, and to consumer re-spending of fuel savings. They show around 500,000 jobs added throughout the economy, even under lower gas price scenarios.[4]

Studies counting actual jobs in companies manufacturing fuel efficient vehicles and components suggest these estimates are in the right ballpark.

  • Data from, 2011 showed 150,000 workers in 500 facilities manufacturing fuel efficient components.[5]  If growth in this subsector of the industry has tracked or exceeded auto manufacturing as a whole, growth of tens of thousands of jobs would be expected. An updated study is underway now.
  • A late 2012 study of actual employment in automotive states showed automotive job growth strongly outpacing the recovery, and numerous plant level examples of fuel economy-related reinvestment.[6]

Studies also confirm the impact of manufacturing policy on domestic automotive employment.

  • Economic analysis done to review the impact of the Administration’s 2009 auto recovery loans found very large economic and jobs benefits, including the preservation of 238,000 manufacturing jobs and 2.6 million jobs throughout the economy.[7]
  • Review of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan program finds that it secured or added jobs in 18 manufacturing plants in eight states that directly employ 38,000 people today and support approximately 93,000 additional indirect manufacturing jobs throughout the supply chain.[8]

Overall these studies underscore that job growth in the industry depends not only on the overall recovery of the economy and vehicle sales, but also on added investment in innovative  and additional technology driven by the standards, and the degree to which existing and new vehicle technology is built in the United States.

Maintaining sound fuel economy standards and complementary manufacturing policies key to maintaining job growth.

The automotive recovery over the past decade was not an accident, and continuing this upward trajectory depends on sound policy, including:

  • Maintaining effective, long-term, soundly structured fuel economy standards that provide the certainty needed for long-term investment in emerging technologies and jobs. Today’s sound, “footprint”-based standards are critical to maintaining consumer fuel savings, automotive investments, and job growth across all types of vehicles and segments of the industry. (See our recent report on how the standards are working here.[9])
  • Sustaining manufacturing policies and incentives such as the successful ATVM program that encourage manufacturing of advanced vehicle technology and anchor growth of critical networks of advanced transportation suppliers.

Finally, continued job growth in the auto industry— as in U.S. manufacturing as a whole—depends on enacting sound national economic and trade policies, and strong enforcement of the trade and currency policies we have today.


[1] All employment data in this section is from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Analysis and calculations, BlueGreen Alliance. More detailed data, graphs, description of individual studies, and methodology available in our mini-report due out in mid-July.

[3]Driving Growth, CAP, NRDC, UAW, 2010   

[5] Supplying Ingenuity, NRDC, National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and UAW, 2012.

[6]  How Fuel Efficiency is Driving Job Growth in the U.S. Auto Industry, NRDC, NWF, and Michigan League of Conservation Voters, 2012.

[8] BlueGreen Alliance analysis.

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STATEMENT: BlueGreen Alliance Applauds Stonewall Inn National Monument Designation http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/statement-bluegreen-alliance-applauds-stonewall-inn-national-monument-designation Fri, 24 Jun 2016 15:22:40 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/statement-bluegreen-alliance-applauds-stonewall-inn-national-monument-designation WASHINGTON, DC (June 24, 2016) – Following President Obama’s designation of the Stonewall Inn and Christopher Park as a national monument, the BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Kim Glas: 

“We applaud President Obama for designating the Stonewall Inn and Christopher Park a national monument. This is the birthplace of the modern LGBT movement and is now the first addition to National Park System specifically highlighting the history of the LGBT community.

“We are proud that this historic landmark is being recognized for its critical role in the modern LGBT civil rights movement. While there is still much to do, today we are honored to be part of the great patchwork that is the American people and are proud to have a President that recognizes and celebrates our diversity and strength as a nation."

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ISSUE BRIEF: Combating Climate Change 426,000 Pickup Trucks at a Time http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/policy-brief-ford-f150 Wed, 22 Jun 2016 16:38:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/policy-brief-ford-f150

The Ford F-150 Shows How Fuel Economy Standards Work and are Working

With gas prices low and the economy recovering, Americans bought record numbers of new vehicles in 2015—also buying more larger vehicles like SUVs and pickup trucks. Amongst the most popular light-duty “half-ton” pickups is the Ford F-150.1 Americans bought 780,000 F-series Ford pickups in 2015—of which about 426,000 were F-150s. The F-150 also provides a concrete example of how America’s landmark fuel economy standards are working to deliver deep fuel savings and carbon emissions reductions, while transforming automotive technology, rebuilding jobs in America, and getting consumers great vehicles they want and need.

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LETTER: BlueGreen Alliance Submits Written Comments on the Federal Coal Leasing Program http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/written-comments-and-oral-testimony-on-the-federal-coal-leasing-program Tue, 21 Jun 2016 16:04:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/written-comments-and-oral-testimony-on-the-federal-coal-leasing-program June 21, 2016

 

Sally Jewell, Secretary

U.S. Department of the Interior

1849 C Street NW

Washington, DC 20240

 

Neil Kornze, Director

Bureau of Land Management

1849 C Street NW, Room 5665

Washington, DC 20240

 

In Re:                          Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement to Modernize the Federal Coal Program

 

Submitted via:             BLM_WO_Coal_Program_PEIS_Comments@blm.gov

 

Dear Secretary Jewell and Director Kornze:

On January 15, 2016, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) issued Order No. 3338 directing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to conduct a broad, programmatic review of the federal coal leasing program, which is administered by the BLM. This order was issued in response to a range of concerns about whether American taxpayers are receiving a fair return from the development of publicly owned resources, markets for coal, the consequences for coal-dependent communities, and whether the production of coal under the federal program is consistent with the nation’s goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change.

In response, the BlueGreen Alliance, a national coalition of labor unions and environmental organizations representing more than 15 million workers, environmentalists, consumers, and tax-paying citizens, today expresses appreciation for the administration’s effort to reform the federal coal leasing system and to offer comments as to how the system can best serve a wide range of stakeholder interests.

The BlueGreen Alliance believes that the federal coal leasing program is broken and long overdue for an update that ensures fairness to taxpayers and better accounts for environmental impacts. The contemplated overhaul of this program is, however, not only an opportunity to fix a broken system, but also an opportunity to take a hard look at how coal-dependent communities, regional economies, and individual workers can transition to new economic models. It is also imperative that coal companies reclaim public lands that they have developed to mitigate the land and water impacts of coal mines and to assist communities in transition through the jobs which reclamation work provides.

The contemplated review of the federal coal leasing systems must evaluate BLM authority and opportunities—as well as actions other agencies and Congress could take—to help ensure a just transition for workers and communities to a clean energy economy. Such actions should include robust investment in community economic development, protection of worker livelihoods, and development of new tax revenue sources for local economies.

Coal has been an important domestic energy source for decades and that fact will continue in the years ahead. Production of this energy resource has been facilitated by the federal government, as roughly 40 percent of all U.S. coal production occurs on taxpayer-owned federal land.

However, over time, it has become clear that the decades-old regulations governing the federal coal program have become outdated and do not necessarily reflect modern day market and environmental realities. It is imperative that taxpayers and local communities receive a fair return from any extraction of these publicly owned resources, through a program that is transparent, competitive, and designed to serve the public interest, rather than that of a narrow sub-set of the energy extraction industry.

Given the serious concerns that have been raised about the federal coal program, and the enormous reserves of coal already under lease, the BlueGreen Alliance agrees with the BLM’s decision to institute a pause on new coal leasing on public lands while this review is taking place. Future coal leases should benefit from all of the lessons learned and public comment gathered during the course of this programmatic review process.

Key to our support for this pause is the fact that companies that are already producing coal from existing federal leases have enough coal leased to be able to continue mining operations without interruption during the span of this program review and beyond. A comprehensive review of this broken system is needed. Nevertheless, as part of that review, the BLM should consider provisions to protect communities supported by existing mines.

A Fair Return for a Public Resource

Regulatory gaps that allow coal companies to effectively sell coal to themselves for below market values to avoid paying full royalties, allow massive deductions for the processing and transportation of coal, and create effective royalty rate reductions, amount to a form of federally subsidized corporate welfare benefiting a select few companies to the detriment of American taxpayers who must carry this expense.

Coal companies that sell coal to themselves at intentionally depressed prices in order to mathematically reduce the royalties that would otherwise be payable to the federal government are, in effect, receiving a subsidy by having their production costs lowered and simultaneously depriving the public of a source of useful revenue. In an era already characterized by political unwillingness to grapple with low corporate tax rates and dropping government revenues on the one hand, and a decaying, under-maintained national infrastructure on the other, revenue rightly due from the extraction of public resources must not be left unclaimed. Taxpayers deserve their fair share from any development of coal on public lands.

Ensuring a Just Transition

Powerful economic forces continue to influence a shift in the U.S. energy sector. A combination of factors is forging a new reality where lower natural gas prices, rising coal costs, and the competitive cost of renewable energy sources are driving a shift to clean energy. The new energy technologies coming on-line will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and will continue to do so in communities across the country. But, as our nation makes this transition, some workers and communities may be impacted.

Coal mines, coal-fired power plants, coal transportation infrastructure, coal handling facilities, and their associated supply and maintenance industries are often the lifeblood of small towns, providing significant employment and contributing to their communities’ tax base. Moving toward clean energy could result in fewer jobs at a local level and a reduction in the tax stream going to local governments, cutting into funding for public schools, hospitals, and infrastructure projects.

Therefore, as the BLM works to capture a fair return for American taxpayers generally, it must also consider that the economic impacts of a reduction in coal usage over the coming years will not be shared equally across the American public. We must consider what authority and opportunities it possesses—having succeeded in capturing a fair return for extracted coal—to ensure that some portion of this increased return is put to use ensuring a just transition for workers, communities, and regional economies. It will be necessary for some workers to obtain new skills and employment and for some communities to redevelop and diversify their economies.

In protecting the interests of the American public, BLM must also seek to protect the interests of those populations that will be disproportionately impacted by the gradual transition away from fossil energy resources. Reform of the federal coal leasing system provides an opportunity to secure a stable source of funding to provide the tools and resources necessary for workers to transition to new jobs, and to diversify local and regional economies.

Consistency with U.S. Climate Change Goals

As a part of this programmatic review, BLM has sought comment as to whether the extraction of fossil resources from federal lands is consistent with U.S. climate goals. With the proper accounting and transparency, the BlueGreen Alliance believes that modernizing the management of public energy resources should and can be in harmony with the need to significantly reduce the nation’s climate emissions. Managing these two areas in concert, first and foremost, requires scientific data to understand what the impacts are, and how they should be environmentally and economically accounted for.

In order to better understand and manage carbon emissions from public lands, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) intends to establish and maintain a public database to account for annual carbon emissions from fossil fuels developed on federal lands. As there is currently no dedicated, official measure of these emissions, the BlueGreen Alliance supports this effort to ensure a transparent process that accounts for costs, which would otherwise be externalized.

Such transparent carbon accounting by the USGS will provide critical information for the public and the federal government to manage carbon emissions as part of the administration’s Climate Action Plan, and to better enable an assessment of the true market value of extracted resources, accounting for all externalized costs.

Conclusion

In summary, we thank the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Department of the Interior for seeking to improve the federal coal leasing system and look forward to continuing to work with your agencies on the eventual implementation of a modernized and improved system built to serve the interests of American communities, workers, taxpayers, and our natural environment.

 

Respectfully,

 

Kim Glas

Executive Director

BlueGreen Alliance

 

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RELEASE: Federal Coal Leasing System Should Help Ensure Clean Economy Transition for Workers and Communities http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/federal-coal-leasing-system-should-be-improved Tue, 21 Jun 2016 11:44:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/federal-coal-leasing-system-should-be-improved WASHINGTON, DC (June 21, 2016) – Today, the BlueGreen Alliance—a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations—submitted written comments on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s review of the Bureau of Land Management’s Federal Coal Leasing Program, saying that critical reform is needed to  ensure a just transition for workers and communities to a clean energy economy. The BlueGreen Alliance will also offer testimony today at field hearings in Seattle, Washington, and later this month in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 

June 21, 2016

 

Sally Jewell, Secretary

U.S. Department of the Interior

1849 C Street NW

Washington, DC 20240

 

Neil Kornze, Director

Bureau of Land Management

1849 C Street NW, Room 5665

Washington, DC 20240

 

In Re: Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement to Modernize the Federal Coal Program

Submitted via: BLM_WO_Coal_Program_PEIS_Comments@blm.gov

 

Dear Secretary Jewell and Director Kornze:

On January 15, 2016, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) issued Order No. 3338 directing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to conduct a broad, programmatic review of the federal coal leasing program, which is administered by the BLM. This order was issued in response to a range of concerns about whether American taxpayers are receiving a fair return from the development of publicly owned resources, markets for coal, the consequences for coal-dependent communities, and whether the production of coal under the federal program is consistent with the nation’s goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change.

In response, the BlueGreen Alliance, a national coalition of labor unions and environmental organizations representing more than 15 million workers, environmentalists, consumers, and tax-paying citizens, today expresses appreciation for the administration’s effort to reform the federal coal leasing system and to offer comments as to how the system can best serve a wide range of stakeholder interests.

The BlueGreen Alliance believes that the federal coal leasing program is broken and long overdue for an update that ensures fairness to taxpayers and better accounts for environmental impacts. The contemplated overhaul of this program is, however, not only an opportunity to fix a broken system, but also an opportunity to take a hard look at how coal-dependent communities, regional economies, and individual workers can transition to new economic models. It is also imperative that coal companies reclaim public lands that they have developed to mitigate the land and water impacts of coal mines and to assist communities in transition through the jobs which reclamation work provides.

The contemplated review of the federal coal leasing systems must evaluate BLM authority and opportunities—as well as actions other agencies and Congress could take—to help ensure a just transition for workers and communities to a clean energy economy. Such actions should include robust investment in community economic development, protection of worker livelihoods, and development of new tax revenue sources for local economies.

Coal has been an important domestic energy source for decades and that fact will continue in the years ahead. Production of this energy resource has been facilitated by the federal government, as roughly 40 percent of all U.S. coal production occurs on taxpayer-owned federal land.

However, over time, it has become clear that the decades-old regulations governing the federal coal program have become outdated and do not necessarily reflect modern day market and environmental realities. It is imperative that taxpayers and local communities receive a fair return from any extraction of these publicly owned resources, through a program that is transparent, competitive, and designed to serve the public interest, rather than that of a narrow sub-set of the energy extraction industry.

Given the serious concerns that have been raised about the federal coal program, and the enormous reserves of coal already under lease, the BlueGreen Alliance agrees with the BLM’s decision to institute a pause on new coal leasing on public lands while this review is taking place. Future coal leases should benefit from all of the lessons learned and public comment gathered during the course of this programmatic review process.

Key to our support for this pause is the fact that companies that are already producing coal from existing federal leases have enough coal leased to be able to continue mining operations without interruption during the span of this program review and beyond. A comprehensive review of this broken system is needed. Nevertheless, as part of that review, the BLM should consider provisions to protect communities supported by existing mines.

A Fair Return for a Public Resource

Regulatory gaps that allow coal companies to effectively sell coal to themselves for below market values to avoid paying full royalties, allow massive deductions for the processing and transportation of coal, and create effective royalty rate reductions, amount to a form of federally subsidized corporate welfare benefiting a select few companies to the detriment of American taxpayers who must carry this expense.

Coal companies that sell coal to themselves at intentionally depressed prices in order to mathematically reduce the royalties that would otherwise be payable to the federal government are, in effect, receiving a subsidy by having their production costs lowered and simultaneously depriving the public of a source of useful revenue. In an era already characterized by political unwillingness to grapple with low corporate tax rates and dropping government revenues on the one hand, and a decaying, under-maintained national infrastructure on the other, revenue rightly due from the extraction of public resources must not be left unclaimed. Taxpayers deserve their fair share from any development of coal on public lands.

Ensuring a Just Transition

Powerful economic forces continue to influence a shift in the U.S. energy sector. A combination of factors is forging a new reality where lower natural gas prices, rising coal costs, and the competitive cost of renewable energy sources are driving a shift to clean energy. The new energy technologies coming on-line will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and will continue to do so in communities across the country. But, as our nation makes this transition, some workers and communities may be impacted.

Coal mines, coal-fired power plants, coal transportation infrastructure, coal handling facilities, and their associated supply and maintenance industries are often the lifeblood of small towns, providing significant employment and contributing to their communities’ tax base. Moving toward clean energy could result in fewer jobs at a local level and a reduction in the tax stream going to local governments, cutting into funding for public schools, hospitals, and infrastructure projects.

Therefore, as the BLM works to capture a fair return for American taxpayers generally, it must also consider that the economic impacts of a reduction in coal usage over the coming years will not be shared equally across the American public. We must consider what authority and opportunities it possesses—having succeeded in capturing a fair return for extracted coal—to ensure that some portion of this increased return is put to use ensuring a just transition for workers, communities, and regional economies. It will be necessary for some workers to obtain new skills and employment and for some communities to redevelop and diversify their economies.

In protecting the interests of the American public, BLM must also seek to protect the interests of those populations that will be disproportionately impacted by the gradual transition away from fossil energy resources. Reform of the federal coal leasing system provides an opportunity to secure a stable source of funding to provide the tools and resources necessary for workers to transition to new jobs, and to diversify local and regional economies.

Consistency with U.S. Climate Change Goals

As a part of this programmatic review, BLM has sought comment as to whether the extraction of fossil resources from federal lands is consistent with U.S. climate goals. With the proper accounting and transparency, the BlueGreen Alliance believes that modernizing the management of public energy resources should and can be in harmony with the need to significantly reduce the nation’s climate emissions. Managing these two areas in concert, first and foremost, requires scientific data to understand what the impacts are, and how they should be environmentally and economically accounted for.

In order to better understand and manage carbon emissions from public lands, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) intends to establish and maintain a public database to account for annual carbon emissions from fossil fuels developed on federal lands. As there is currently no dedicated, official measure of these emissions, the BlueGreen Alliance supports this effort to ensure a transparent process that accounts for costs, which would otherwise be externalized.

Such transparent carbon accounting by the USGS will provide critical information for the public and the federal government to manage carbon emissions as part of the administration’s Climate Action Plan, and to better enable an assessment of the true market value of extracted resources, accounting for all externalized costs.

Conclusion

In summary, we thank the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Department of the Interior for seeking to improve the federal coal leasing system and look forward to continuing to work with your agencies on the eventual implementation of a modernized and improved system built to serve the interests of American communities, workers, taxpayers, and our natural environment.  

 

Respectfully,

 

Kim Glas

Executive Director

BlueGreen Alliance

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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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VIDEO: IBEW Local 275: Powering Michigan's Future http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/video-ibew-local-275-powering-michigans-future Fri, 08 Apr 2016 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/publications/video-ibew-local-275-powering-michigans-future

Members of IBEW Local 275 worked through the winter on this solar facility in Western Michigan.  

This video is a testimony that solar is working in Michigan and helping to sustain good quality jobs. It highlights how members of the building trades are already doing work in this new, clean economy—from the electricians in the video to plumbers to construction workers. The jobs that are created and sustained in the clean economy should be quality, union jobs.

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VIDEO: IBEW Local 275 Powering Michigan's Future http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/video-ibew-local-275 Wed, 06 Apr 2016 12:20:00 -0500 http://www.bluegreenalliance.org/news/latest/video-ibew-local-275

Members of IBEW Local 275 worked through the winter on this solar facility in Western Michigan.  

This video is a testimony that solar is working in Michigan and helping to sustain good quality jobs. It highlights how members of the building trades are already doing work in this new, clean economy—from the electricians in the video to plumbers to construction workers. The jobs that are created and sustained in the clean economy should be quality, union jobs.

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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. 

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