Misled: The Impact of the Trump Administration’s Agenda on Working Families and the Environment

 This report should provide workers and others with the information they need to understand the current impact of these policies and work toward changing them to protect workers and our communities.

There is no doubt the negative impacts of this presidency on working families will be studied in great detail in the years to come. For the purposes of this report, the impacts of some of the most egregious actions on workers’ rights and safety, environmental protection, job creation, and pandemic response will be reviewed. This report sheds light on the Trump administration’s actions that have negatively impacted working families, communities, and workplaces.

Click below to view the report.

Misled

BlueGreen Alliance Welcomes Passage of Water Resources Development Act Reauthorization

In response to the passage of the bill the BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Jason Walsh:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a harsh light on just how important it is that we ensure every American can rely on access to clean, safe water. We applaud passage of the House’s reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act and urge them to work with the Senate to pass a final bill that includes important measures such as the reauthorization of the Clean Water State Revolving Loan fund, Safe Drinking Water Act programs, and a permanent Buy America provision to ensure the investments we make create good-paying jobs here in the United States.”

BlueGreen Alliance Report Highlights Challenges and Opportunities in Repairing America’s Water Systems

The nation’s wastewater and drinking water infrastructure received grades of “D+” and “D” from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), respectively. A new report released today by the BlueGreen Alliance—entitled Water Works: The Job Creation Potential of Repairing America’s Water Infrastructure—shows how investments in the nation’s water systems to improve them to a “B” grade would create 654,000 job-years—a job that employs a person full-time for one year—across the U.S. economy.

“Repairing our clean and wastewater infrastructure will grow and sustain the good-paying jobs we need right now and in the long-term, and not just in system maintenance but also in the new construction sector and in manufacturing,” said James Slevin, president of the Utility Workers Union of America. “When infrastructure spending is coupled with policy that incentivizes domestic content—like Buy America standards—there is a long history of maximizing the return on investment to taxpayers and the American economy.”

The health impacts of aging infrastructure are pervasive. More than 27 million Americans get their water from systems that violate health standards, and low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately impacted by contaminated water.

“Every American deserves access to clean, safe water and right now we’re failing in that most basic measure,” said BlueGreen Alliance Legislative Director Jessica Eckdish “In towns and cities around the country, people—especially people of color—are being exposed to lead and other harmful chemicals in their water. Flint, Michigan brought this issue to national prominence, but since then there’s been a lack of action at the federal level to do what it takes to keep people safe. That needs to change and it needs to change now.”

The group said another issue is that climate change is further straining water systems already in disrepair. A study by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies estimated that states will need an additional $448 to $944 billion dollars by 2050 to reengineer water systems to cope with sea level rise, droughts, and floods.

“Our most vulnerable communities are suffering the most from our outdated water infrastructure, which leads to contamination and flooding,” said Becky Hammer, deputy director for federal water policy at Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “The climate crisis exacerbates these risks. The good news is that repairing and upgrading our pipes and treatment plants will help provide safe, clean water for all of us—and create thousands of good jobs.”

Water pipes leak approximately 14% of all treated water and there are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks in America each year. The U.S. House of Representatives is currently debating a bill that would infuse over 65 billion dollars into drinking and wastewater systems.

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.”

BlueGreen Alliance Applauds Strong Buy America Provision in Senate WRDA Bill

In response to today’s markup the BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Jason Walsh:

“Every American deserves to have access to clean water. We applaud this action to address our nation’s water infrastructure challenges. We are particularly pleased with the inclusion of a permanent Buy America provision, which has a long-standing history of boosting American manufacturing, creating quality, family-sustaining jobs, and maximizing investments in the American economy.”

EPA’s Clean Water Rule Replacement is Indefensible

In response to today’s announcement, the BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Jason Walsh:

“This rule is indefensible. Every American deserves to have clean, safe water. The rule finalized today will mean more pollution in our waters, putting our drinking water and health and safety at risk and harming waterways communities rely on for recreation.”

EPA Clean Water Rule Rollback Will Jeopardize Water Quality Across the United States

Ahead of the announcement, BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Jason Walsh released the following statement:

“Too many Americans live with uncertainty about the safety of the water they drink and the quality of the water their communities depend on for jobs and recreation. Today’s action by the Trump administration is a slap in the face to the millions of Americans whose water is threatened by this rollback.”

Congress Holds Hearing on Clean Water Rule

Every American should have access to clean water, but the Trump administration has threatened that basic right by proposing to roll back this vital Clean Water Rule.

In addition, clean water is critical for our local economies. Clean waterways provide economic livelihoods for individuals employed in water-related jobs, such as caretaking, environmental conservation officers, fisheries management specialists, and commercial fishermen. In addition to recreation-related employment, clean waters are a powerful economic engine supporting millions of jobs across manufacturing and transportation sectors.

In a letter sent by the BlueGreen Alliance earlier this year to the EPA, we said, “We need to put the health of our residents and our economy first. The EPA should keep the Clean Water Rule in place to protect bodies of water that help drive our local economies and supply our children and families with clean, safe drinking water.”

Experts say the proposal by the administration ignores how small streams and wetlands connect to larger bodies of waterand how pollution heads downstream. In a statement about the proposal to weaken the Clean Water Rule, Collin O’Mara of the National Wildlife Federation said, “This proposal eliminates Clean Water Act protections for at least half of the nation’s wetlands and millions of miles of streams. This change would cause catastrophic impacts to America’s wildlife over time.”

O’Mara continued, “At a time when communities across the country are facing drinking water and flooding crises exacerbated by climate change, we call upon the EPA to rescind this misguided proposal that would make it easier to damage our streams and wetlands, destroy fish and wildlife habitat, threaten our communities with increased flooding, and pollute our drinking water.”

Now, Congress is set to weigh in. The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife is holding hearing on the impact of the Clean Water Rule today. Advocates for clean water pointed out how rolling back and replacing this rule with one that weakens these vital protections would put people, wildlife, and hundreds of thousands of miles of ecosystems at risk.

Find out more about the hearing here.

Congress should step in and stop the effort to gut clean water protections and instead embrace the Clean Water Rule as-is. Every American deserves clean, safe drinking water. The current, strong Clean Water Rule will help us achieve that.

BlueGreen Alliance Supports Clean Water Rule in Comment to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

 The BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of the nation’s largest labor unions and environmental organizations collectively representing millions of members and supporters, urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw its proposal to revoke crucial protections for bodies of water laid out in the Clean Water Act of 1972 (CWA). Protecting our waters, the most sacred of our natural resources, is simply common sense. The proposed rule rolls back protections for our waters and upends the progress we’ve made as a nation in cleaning up our waterways for drinking, recreating, and other uses.

Click the link below to read our full comment.

BlueGreen Alliance Letter to House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Leadership in Support of the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2019

In a letter to Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Rep. Peter Defazio (D-OR) and committee Ranking Member Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), the BlueGreen Alliance called for the swift passage of the bill, which would infuse $23.5 billion in direct investments to address wastewater infrastructure and water quality needs. This includes more than doubling funding levels for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (Clean Water SRF) program.

Congress Kicks Off First Hearings on Two Critical and Interrelated Issues: Climate and Infrastructure

This week, the 116th Congress is opening its first round of hearings focusing on two issues of vital importance to all of our future: climate change and infrastructure. The House Energy and Commerce Committee, the House Natural Resources Committee, and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will all be setting the stage for the important policy work ahead by focusing their inaugural hearings on these issues of priority to both the BlueGreen Alliance and Americans struggling to find good-paying jobs that keep them ahead of the cost of living.

Americans are worried about the health impacts—to themselves and their families—of air and water pollution, and if they will be able to trust the systems that deliver their heat, power, and other necessities to be ready in the face of a changing climate.

BlueGreen Alliance’s own Deputy Director Mike Williams will be testifying in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee at their hearing on Wednesday entitled “Time for Action: Addressing the Environmental and Economic Effects of Climate Change,” where he’ll speak to how addressing the climate crisis can go hand in hand with building a fair, equitable, and just economy for all Americans—regardless of where they live—and that a robust infrastructure package is a key first step this Congress should take to both reduce emissions, make our communities more resilient, and create quality jobs across the country.

American infrastructure systems are in dire need of repair and modernization. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ latest Report Card gave the nation’s infrastructure a grade of “D+,” and estimated that getting to a grade of “B” would require a significant federal investment over the next 10 years.

Congress must move forward a plan to meet this need, including boosting revenue to support the public sectors’ ability to meet the challenge. A robust and ambitious infrastructure plan should address all aspects of our infrastructure needs, including:

  • The electric grid, including grid modernization, expansion of clean energy, and transmission;
  • Methane leaks in the natural gas distribution sector that waste energy and endanger our communities;
  • Surface transportation, including modernizing our roads and bridges, investing in and expanding our transit systems, and leading in the next generation of transportation infrastructure;
  • Industrial infrastructure and advanced manufacturing, including creating a more resilient and efficient industrial infrastructure, as well as boosting clean energy and transportation manufacturing;
  • Water infrastructure, including addressing lead and other harmful contaminants in water, rehabilitating and upgrading water distribution and treatment infrastructure, implementing sustainable stormwater solutions, upgrading our levees, and increasing water affordability;
  • Buildings, including investing in and making our schools, hospitals, commercial, and residential structures both cleaner and more efficient; and
  • Natural infrastructure, which entails improving climate resilience through natural defenses that act as carbon sinks, recovering our wildlife, reclaiming mines, and addressing the maintenance backlog for our public lands.

Making these investments will reduce air and water pollution—including the emissions driving climate change—and make our communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change. They will also create millions of family-sustaining jobs. BlueGreen Alliance’s research discovered that investing approximately $2.2 trillion in American infrastructure to improve these sectors from a “D+” grade to a “B” grade overall has the potential to support or create an additional 14.5 million job-years across the American economy, on top of adding a cumulative $1.66 trillion to our GDP over a decade – all while reducing greenhouse gas pollution—as opposed to continuing in a business-as-usual situation.

But we have to make sure we tackle this challenge the right way. This means:

  • Ensuring all projects are subject to Buy America and Davis-Bacon;
  • Utilizing project labor agreements, community benefit agreements, and local hire provisions;
  • Prioritizing the use of the most efficient, resilient, and cleanest materials and products;
  • Enhancing workforce training and development programs;
  • Increasing pathways to economic opportunities for communities and local workers, especially for people of color and low-income communities; and
  • Prioritizing public funding and financing.

The road to creating an equitable, environmentally friendly, and impactful new American infrastructure system will be long and complex. But now more than ever, Congressional leadership has a unique opportunity to work with committee leadership on a far-reaching and inclusive plan for our future. As these three committees move forward this week with these critical first hearings, we hope members will consider these priorities.

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.”