The transition to a cleaner, more efficient and more competitive American economy has the potential to reinvigorate our manufacturing sector to produce new products such as wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles, while increased domestic recycling of materials such as paper, metals, plastics, and e-waste can also generate jobs that support families, divert waste from landfills and ensure re-manufacturing is done in a safe and healthy manner.
However, globalization of the world economy presents a number of challenges, including the outsourcing of American jobs, unfair trade practices, currency manipulation, the export of valuable manufacturing inputs, and a looming trade deficit. These threats to our economic well-being will continue to wreak havoc on the global environment, leaving us far behind in the race to build a cleaner, more efficient, and more competitive 21st century American economy.
In order to address these challenges, the United States must adopt environmentally and socially responsible trade and development policies with the aim of creating and sustaining millions of good jobs across the country.
Made in America
Many of the world’s largest economies, including China, Canada, and Europe, attach minimum domestic content standards to their investments to support local industry and leverage national investments into greater employment gains. In order to maximize job creation from U.S. investments in industries like clean energy and transportation manufacturing, we must also tie these public investments to domestically-sourced American-made products. Read more about the Apollo Alliance Project's Clean Transportation Manufacturing Action Plan (TMAP).
Preventing Carbon and Jobs Leakage
We must ensure that the policies that are adopted to ensure a strong U.S. clean economy also include measures to prevent carbon and job leakage. For example, during the efforts in 2009 to pass comprehensive climate change legislation, the BGA and our partners worked hard toward ensuring that such a comprehensive policy also included safeguards to ensure that energy-intensive industries, like the steel and aluminum industries, can compete with countries that do not have the same environmental and labor standards. Read more.
Environmentally and Socially Responsible Trade Agreements
The rubric of ‘free trade’ has for too long been interpreted in a decidedly one-sided manner in favor of nations wishing to export consumer goods to the U.S., without reciprocal efforts to fairly balance this trade with imports from the U.S. Massive job losses, offshoring, outsourcing, and runaway American trade deficits have been the predictable result. It’s critical to our nation’s economic success, and for creating good jobs across the country, to ensure that all pending and future trade agreements must be reviewed for their impact on economic development, jobs, workers’ rights, human rights and the environment. In addition, the Administration must take a harder, more deliberate stance regarding the enforcement of America’s existing trade agreements. Countries with strong trade imbalances with the U.S. must allow more access to American-made goods. Read more.
The unrestricted import of illegally harvested wood products imperils the United States economy, impacting the wood products industry and costing U.S. jobs. In addition, illegal logging is a significant contributor to the deforestation that accounts for approximately 20 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, while the practice wreaks havoc on local illegally-logged communities and the environment. Read more.
Trade and Recycling
Instead of finished, domestically manufactured goods, America's largest export, by volume, is waste paper, largely bound for poorly regulated paper mills in Asia. The second largest is scrap metal headed for highly polluting smelters in developing countries. Millions of tons of scrap plastic make their way to Asia, some to be recycled under dangerous, unhealthy conditions, some simply to be discarded as unrecyclable.
Each month thousands of container loads of "e-waste," including 80 percent of America's electronic discards, are sent abroad to be "recycled." Broken or obsolete computers, cell phones, printers, and electronics end up in places like China, India, Vietnam, Pakistan, Ghana or Nigeria to be disassembled and burned, often by children, in order to recover the various metals they contain.
Recyclable materials, far from being waste, are valuable industrial inputs that should be retained and re-manufactured in the U.S. under stringent labor and environmental protections to ensure the worthy goals of recycling are maximized. Read more.