BlueGreen Alliance Applauds House Democrats for New Effort to Spur Economic Recovery with Infrastructure and Manufacturing Focus

After the announcement, the BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Jason Walsh.

“America is falling apart. We have millions of workers without jobs due to Covid-19, rampant and systematic racism that pervades our society, gaps in our manufacturing base that leave our citizens and economy vulnerable, and the infrastructure systems we rely on every day—for clean water, to get from place to place, to educate our children, to heat and power our homes and businesses, and to communicate with each other—have been neglected for a generation and are crumbling and dangerous.

“Today, Speaker Pelosi and leaders in the House have released a path forward that can put people back to work repairing and modernizing our infrastructure to be cleaner and more resilient, rebuild manufacturing and manufacturing jobs, and enhance justice and equity to our society by prioritizing investments in communities that need it most—including low-income communities, communities of color, and deindustrialized communities in need of economic revitalization.”

“We haven’t evaluated the full bill, but this proposal is a stark contrast to the inaction from Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Republicans in the Senate, like we have seen with other legislation to protect workers and provide needed relief previously passed by the House. They too must act because we cannot afford to wait a minute longer to get America on a path to recovery.”

State Labor, Environmental Leaders Announce BlueGreen Alliance State Chapter in Colorado

“We’re excited to be coming together to fight for good, safe jobs and to tackle climate change and other pressing environmental challenges,” said Dennis Dougherty, executive director of the Colorado AFL-CIO. “We’re focused on finding common sense solutions that create good-paying, union jobs in communities all around our state in ways that protect our environment.”

“We know that a clean environment, a strong economy, and good-paying jobs can and must go hand-in-hand,” said Kelly Nordini, executive director of Conservation Colorado. “We will stand together with our allies in the labor movement to move our state forward to a cleaner economy that supports working families.”

The leaders said their immediate focus would be on building consensus and supporting policies that will grow clean energy jobs and projects across the state, as well as limiting emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas pollutants in order to leave a healthy, livable climate for future generations.

“We feel it is our job, as the union, to use every avenue possible to advocate for our members,” said Eppie Martinez the business manager/financial secretary of IBEW Local Union 111. “What better way is there to vocalize and advance our ideas regarding any transition for our members than to actually be a part of this evolving industry? I believe that if both sides work together, we can create new jobs in the energy sector that sustain families and their communities while ultimately protecting the environment. We realize that we are far stronger together than we can ever be separately, and we all share many of the same common values. We want to be good stewards of the environment, as well as make sure that we have safe, healthy workplaces and communities and good-paying jobs that will support working families and their communites.”

“Coloradans are feeling the effects of climate change today, in the form of drought, wildfires, and poor air quality—but we also know that we can fight climate change while creating good jobs and a healthy economy,” said Erin Overturf, deputy director of the Clean Energy Program at Western Resource Advocates. “Together with our partners in the labor movement, we will work to reduce carbon pollution within our state, while building a strong and fair economy for all Coloradans.”

The members of the newly founded chapter include:

  • American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Colorado
  • Colorado AFL-CIO
  • Colorado Building & Construction Trades Council
  • Colorado Education Association\
  • Colorado State Council of Electrical Workers
  • Conservation Colorado
  • Communications Workers of America (CWA) District 7
  • IBEW Locals 12, 68, 111, 113, 667, 969
  • Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
  • Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 105
  • Sierra Club
  • International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 9
  • SMART Transportation Division
  • United Association (UA) Local 208
  • United Steelworkers District (USW) 12
  • Western Resources Advocates (WRA)

“Colorado is a state that we feel we can really make a difference in when it comes to policies and investments to tackle climate change in ways that create good-paying jobs,” said JB Tengco, west coast director for the BlueGreen Alliance. “We look forward to working on the ground here to build a better future for us all.”

BlueGreen Alliance Comments to U.S. Department of Transportation’s Notification of Regulatory Review,

Regulatory rollbacks are not what America’s working families and manufacturing communities need. It would be shortsighted to tear down efforts that are working right now to create and sustain jobs in manufacturing and other sectors; spur American innovation and economic leadership; keep communities and workers safe; and reduce pollution. In addition to clear safety, energy security, and environmental benefits, what may appear as costs to industry can represent significant investments that result in keeping and growing good jobs here in America.

We urged the DOT to continue to uphold these common-sense safeguards, and the investments, innovation, safety, and environmental benefits they bring to us all.

Find out about our Repairing America’s Aging Pipelines (RECAP) Campaign

InterconnectedThe BlueGreen Alliance’s RECAP campaign was developed to accelerate the repair and replacement of America’s natural gas distribution pipeline network to create hundreds of thousands additional jobs while addressing the urgent threat of climate change.

Nine percent—or about 112,000 miles—of the nation’s natural gas distribution pipelines are made from leak prone materials such as cast iron, bare steel or unprotected coated steel. Repairing the nation’s aging natural gas pipelines has the potential to create and support quality, family-sustaining jobs and drive billions in investment.

The BlueGreen Alliance Talks Infrastructure in Camden

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
          

BlueGreen Alliance Applauds Reauthorization of Safe Pipes Act

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.”

Taking Stock: Opportunities and Challenges in Indiana’s Natural Gas Distribution System

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Click to download the full report.

Indiana’s natural gas distribution pipeline system is a network of more than 40,000 miles of pipe that supplies homes, businesses, and communities with energy. In 2013, many of these pipes were reaching the end of their service life. Approximately 30 percent—or more than 12,000 miles—of the state’s existing distribution pipeline was installed in 1969 or earlier, and will be more than 50 years old if still in use in 2020.1 These percentages appear in line with the age of distribution pipes nationwide.

Residents of Indiana have felt firsthand the impacts of the state’s aging natural gas distribution pipelines. For example, in November of 2002, leaks in a natural gas pipe caused explosions that destroyed three homes and injured at least four people in Lafayette. Years later, in May of 2011, a natural gas pipeline near Rockville exploded and caught fire. While no injuries were reported, 49 homes were evacuated within a one-mile area of the explosion. After the fire, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) indicated the possibility of external corrosion in a Corrective Action Order to the pipeline company.

As part of a state-focused education and outreach project conducted throughout 2014 and 2015, the BlueGreen Alliance convened stakeholder meetings and public forums to build on existing knowledge and engage frontline gas sector workers, environmental groups, industry, and additional community stakeholders to identify challenges and opportunities facing the network of natural gas distribution pipelines in the state of Indiana.

A Victory in California to Grow Jobs, Reduce Methane Leaks

In 2014, labor and environmental leaders lauded Gov. Jerry Brown’s signing of a bill that will require utilities to address the growing issue of natural gas leaks in distribution pipelines. The bill, SB 1371, was authored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and was passed by the Legislature in August. The law specifically directed the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to develop and implement a comprehensive natural gas distribution pipelines leak reduction strategy that ensured the quick and efficient repair of leaks.

California is the nation’s second largest consumer of natural gas, with over 100,000 miles of pipes and other equipment delivering natural gas to customers across the state. The union representing workers who maintain and repair distribution pipelines in the state, the Utility Workers Unions of America–a member of the BlueGreen Alliance–was supportive of the measure.

“Utility workers are proud of the broad public interest coalition of unions, environmental groups and consumer and community interests that have come together to support this measure,” said Robert Hoffman, President of Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 132, the sponsor of the bill, said in 2014. “Being proactive in repairing and upgrading these vital pipes will benefit the environment and public safety while creating and sustaining good jobs for workers throughout the state. We thank Sen. Leno for bringing this forward and we appreciate the Governor signing it into law.”

“This is a big step towards a comprehensive strategy in California to reduce methane pollution,” said Tim O’Connor, Director of the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) California Climate Initiative. “Implementing policies to curb the loss of a valuable resource is good for both California’s environment and our economy.”

“This new law will reinforce California’s leadership in reducing emissions that contribute to climate change,” said Kathryn Phillips, Director of Sierra Club California, said in 2014. “Methane as a greenhouse gas is considerably more potent than carbon dioxide and we applaud this effort to reduce these harmful and wasteful emissions.”

The new law will also help eliminate waste of a critical energy resource. So-called “fugitive” emissions of methane equate to millions of dollars of lost gas that Californians end up paying for in their monthly utility bills.

“This is the right thing to do for our environment and our economy,” said Victoria Rome, California Legislative Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “Repairing these leaks is vital to California’s continued leadership in the fight against climate change.”

California joined other state and federal efforts to mitigate methane emissions. Colorado and Wyoming have already begun to develop and adopt regulations requiring leak reductions.

“This is great news for California’s economy and environment,” said Laura Reynolds, Vice President for Communications Workers of America (CWA) District 9. “Union workers are concerned about climate change and ready to act. Repairing our state’s leaking natural gas distribution pipelines is something we should all be able to get behind.”

“Communities around the state will benefit from this new law and California is showing once again that we can create family-sustaining jobs for workers, while doing right by our environment,” said Robert LaVenture, Director of United Steelworkers (USW) District 12.

In 2014, the AFL-CIO and the BlueGreen Alliance released a report highlighting the economic and environmental benefits of replacing America’s aging natural gas distribution pipelines over a 10-year period instead of the current 30-year scenario. The report showed that doing so would increase the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by over $37 billion by 2024, create over 313,000 jobs, save consumers nearly $4.4 billion in lost gas, and prevent 81 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from being emitted into the atmosphere.

Mapping the way forward on preventing powerful methane emissions

What do Boston, New York, Indianapolis and Syracuse all have in common? They’re all cities part of the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) methane leaks tracking tool. Just this week, EDF unveiled Los Angeles as the latest city to be added to the interactive data map that’s a fascinating bird’s eye view of where the methane leaks are located in a given city. The Google map and data are the latest powerful additions to our arsenal of information better arming cities, states, environmentalists and the utilities and workers—including more than 4,000 members of the Utility Workers Union of America employed at Southern California Gas—doing this work to prevent methane leaks as a potent source of emissions.

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Image from EDF.

What, where and how

Even a cursory look at EDF’s map of Los Angeles quickly reveals methane leaks are all over the city. As this distribution infrastructure ages—especially in the largest and oldest cities across the country—it’s becoming an increasing problem. Uncombusted methane lost through the system, pound for pound, has at least 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide over a 100-year time frame, making it a truly potent contributor to climate change.

The potency of methane in combination with the aging distribution system poses a growing threat, but also an opportunity. The scope of the problem is that the U.S. consumes approximately 25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas annually. Natural gas for consumers and businesses run through approximately 1.25 million miles of distribution pipelines in communities throughout the U.S. Nine percent of our nation’s natural gas distribution pipelines—approximately 112,000 miles worth—are made from leak-prone materials such as cast iron and unprotected steel and in many cases date back beyond World War II.

Why is repair and replacement important?

The opportunities presented by the aging distribution system are both environmental and economic. Repairing and replacing natural gas distribution pipelines has the potential to prevent the emission of 81 million metric tons of climate change pollution—the equivalent of taking 17 million cars off the road for a year. If we’re going to truly make an impact limiting emissions over the next few years to meet both domestic and global emissions commitments, it will be necessary to think creatively about news ways to do that.

Making distribution pipeline repairs and upgrades deliver for the economy by putting people to work. A BlueGreen Alliance report—Interconnected—explores the scenario of moving from 30- to 10-Year pipeline replacement scenario. Accelerating the timeline for repairing leak-prone sections of our nation’s natural gas pipeline distribution system create more than 300,000 good, family-supporting jobs across the economy, save consumers $1.5 billion in charges for lost gas.

Knowing which cities and neighborhoods are seeing the most leaks is one of many steps in preventing emissions in the first place. The EDF’s mapping tool is working to educate and engage a wider audience about this problem. In partnership with EDF, the BlueGreen Alliance is urging the administration to act boldly with supportive policies to achieve emissions reductions and working with partners and allies to develop ways to reap all possible economic impacts.

This important work is a down payment on our commitment to do better where we can.  The economic opportunity and the environmental repercussions are an opportunity that cannot be missed.

Quadrennial Energy Review Maps Out Solutions to Fix America’s Energy Infrastructure

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 21, 2015) – Today, the Department of Energy presented its Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), outlining strategies to strengthen our nation’s energy infrastructure, to include modernizing our electric grid and natural gas distribution pipelines to make them more resilient and reduce climate change pollution. The BlueGreen Alliance’s Executive Director Kim Glas released the following statement:

“The Department of Energy’s QER provides real solutions to address America’s growing infrastructure investment gap. Over the next 10 years, the administration is committing up to $3.8 billion to modernize our electrical grid and up to $3.5 billion to protect our energy systems from extreme weather and accelerate the repair and replacement of leak-prone natural gas distribution pipes.

“In the American Society of Civil Engineers 2013 Infrastructure Report Card, our nation’s energy infrastructure earned a barely passing D+ grade. Getting the electrical grid to a “B” grade over 10 years could create an estimated 180,000 jobs, and accelerating upgrades to our natural gas distribution networks to a 10 year timeline could create an additional 250,000 jobs throughout the economy. Fixing our leak-prone gas distribution pipes is a crucial part of the national goal, proposed by the administration in January, to reduce methane emissions by up to 45 percent over the next decade.

“Congress should stand with the president to ensure these commitments become reality. U.S. consumers and businesses will see economic benefits, there will be more quality jobs created and sustained, and we’ll reduce emissions along the way.”

Repairing America’s Infrastructure Can Create 2.7 Million Jobs, Increase GDP by $377 Billion, and Reduce Emissions

Two Years After Hurricane Sandy, New Report Demonstrates Economic and Environmental Benefits of Repairing Infrastructure and Protecting Communities from Impacts of Climate Change

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 24, 2014) – An innovative report released today shows that repairing America’s infrastructure could create 2.7 million jobs across the economy and increase the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $377 billion, while reducing carbon pollution and other greenhouse gas emissions and better protecting communities from the impacts of climate change. The BlueGreen Alliance, a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations, today held a press call to release the report that analyzed the impact of infrastructure investments on the nation’s economy and environment.

“Repairing our most basic infrastructure systems will make those systems more efficient and prepare our communities for the coming impacts of climate change. But most of all, it will create quality jobs up and down the supply chain—from manufacturing the components of these systems to the installation and operation of them in our communities,” said Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers and Co-Founder of the BlueGreen Alliance.

Making the Grade: How Investments in America’s Infrastructure Benefit Our Economy and Environment examines the benefits of improving America’s infrastructure from an average “D+” grade—the 2013 rating by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Report Card—to a “B” grade over the next ten years and quantifies the potential job creation and economic impact from making those investments. In addition, the report examines the environmental benefits of investing in repairing and upgrading America’s infrastructure systems, including the ability to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a variety of sectors across the economy.

“Poor infrastructure means more waste and pollution. By acting now, we can end the vicious circle we’re in—where outdated and inefficient infrastructure is making climate change worse, and as the climate changes the infrastructure is even more battered by the impacts,” said Peter Lehner, Executive Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Rebuilding our infrastructure now just makes good sense for our communities, the environment and our economy.”

Making the Grade shows that accelerating infrastructure investment—as laid out in the report—would result in saving nearly 5.7 billion gallons of fuel annually by supporting current growth in transit ridership. Similarly, investments in America’s energy infrastructure would help reach the carbon pollution reduction goals of the Clean Power Plan by investing in more the nation’s electric grid.

In addition, a 5 percent reduction in leaks from drinking water systems would reduce climate change pollution by an equivalent of 225,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. The report also showed that every 5 percent reduced in the amount of solid waste Americans generate could limit greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 10 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year—the equivalent emissions for six million U.S. households.

“Underinvestment, deferred maintenance and extreme weather stress our infrastructure networks—endangering communities, wasting energy, and creating excess pollution,” said D. Michael Langford, National President of the Utility Workers Union of America. “We cannot afford to continue to ignore the costs of inaction—inaction on fixing our infrastructure, inaction on climate change—and avoid the significant costs that occur because of that inaction. It’s time to move on repairing our nation’s infrastructure now.”

The report comes just before the second anniversary of Hurricane Sandy reaching the East Coast. The storm was the second costliest in U.S. history and exposed how unprepared the nation’s infrastructure systems are to the dangers brought on by climate change, which includes stronger and more frequent storms and rising sea levels. Hurricane Sandy caused an estimated $60 to $80 billion in damage, damaged 650,000 homes and left 8.5 million people without power. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), warmer oceans and air along with other changes in global weather patters, more powerful and more frequent hurricanes could be more likely.

“We must find better ways to ensure that local infrastructure makes the grade,” said Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell. “Repairing infrastructure systems and addressing climate change go hand-in-hand and both will create good jobs. Reinforcing the power grid, strengthening stormwater drains, and creating communities resilient to climate change will promote economic growth in cities all around our nation.”

“In order to lead in the global economy, America needs to be at the front of the pack when it comes to infrastructure,” said Brian Pallasch, Managing Director of Government Relations & Infrastructure Initiatives for ASCE. “Our Report Card for America’s Infrastructure has called attention to the state of our nation’s infrastructure for over a decade, and this new study provides current insight into the economic and environmental benefits that would come along with making the needed infrastructure investment.”

“Clean water, a reliable and efficient electric grid, uncongested travel—these are the keys to good communities and a strong economy,” said Kim Glas, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “As the backbone of our economy, we need to bolster our infrastructure and make it resilient to the impacts of climate change. By doing so, we can reduce pollution and create good jobs too.”

The group said one way to boost investment now is for Congress to pass a long-term, fully funded transportation bill yet this year. “Congress can jumpstart this by passing a transportation bill in the ‘lame duck’ session still this year,” Glas added.

Listen to the audio from the press call below.

BlueGreen Alliance Urges Administration to Adopt a National Methane Reduction Strategy

Washington, D.C. (October 10, 2014) – The BlueGreen Alliance today urged President Obama to adopt a strong methane reduction strategy in order to advance the U.S. Climate Action Plan and meet the administration’s target of reducing the nation’s global warming pollution 17 percent by 2020.

“Methane is a potent source of emissions, and taking steps to reduce emissions is a substantial opportunity to put American workers squarely at the forefront of developing, manufacturing, and implementing these technologies—providing high-quality jobs and stimulating local economies,” said Kim Glas, BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director.

The full text of the letter appears below.

October 10, 2014

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

The BlueGreen Alliance—a partnership of 10 of America’s largest labor unions and 5 national environmental groups—represents more than 15 million members and supporters working toward a cleaner, fairer and more competitive American economy.

The oil and gas industry is the nation’s largest industrial source of methane, the main component of natural gas and a potent greenhouse gas. Reducing methane emissions throughout the industry’s operations needs to be a key part of our nation’s strategy to address climate change.

In March 2014, the White House indicated that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will determine in the fall of 2014 how best to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas operations.

The BlueGreen Alliance supports the move toward a national set of standards to directly regulate methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. Methane standards could contribute substantially to meeting the administration’s target of reducing the nation’s global warming pollution 17 percent by 2020, with even greater reductions post-2020. In addition:

  • Proven, low-cost technologies can eliminate as much as half of all climate-warming methane emissions from onshore oil and gas operations in the next 5 years. American companies in over 40 states are at the forefront of developing, manufacturing, and implementing these technologies, providing high-quality jobs and stimulating local economies.
  • Keeping methane ‘in the system’ will help companies cut waste in addition to reducing the climate change impact of these emissions. A recent report by ICF International estimates methane emissions could be reduced by 40 percent below projected 2018 levels at an average annual cost of less than one cent per thousand cubic feet of produced natural gas.
  • Some companies recognize this benefit and have adopted methane pollution reduction measures on their own accord. And while some states, such as Colorado, have taken action to reduce methane emissions, no national standards are in place to protect communities across the country and to effectively reduce the contribution of methane leakage to climate change.

We applaud the commitments the Obama administration has made to date to address climate change, to include fuel efficiency and pollution standards that are helping ensure America is on the forefront of building a clean vehicle fleet, as well as sensible and attainable emissions reductions through the nation’s power sector. We support continuing efforts to build on this legacy by establishing national methane emissions standards at the earliest opportunity. By doing so, we can reduce waste in our nation’s energy sector while also reducing pollution that is disrupting our climate.

Sincerely,

Kim Glas
Executive Director
BlueGreen Alliance