HARRISBURG, PA (March 18, 2014) – A bipartisan group of state lawmakers from the BlueGreen Caucus in the Pennsylvania Legislature today announced their support for existing legislation and their intention to draft new bills that will create jobs through expanding renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives. The caucus is a coalition committed to working in pursuit of policies that grow the economy, protect the environment and create jobs
“As our economy continues to rebound and improve, we risk endangering the health of our next generation by not taking viable steps to clean our air and water,” said Rep. Conklin. “What we need is a long-term clean energy jobs program that creates good paying, family-sustaining wages while protecting our environment and the public health of our residents throughout Pennsylvania.”
The co-chairmen of the caucus are Rep. Conklin (D-77) and Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-18). They were joined by Rep. Greg Vitali (D-166); Rep. Patrick Harkins (D-1); Rep. Tina Davis (D-141); Rep. Michael O’Brien (D-175); Abe Amoros, Pennsylvania Legislative Director for the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA); Joanne Kilgour, Pennsylvania Chapter Director of the Sierra Club; and Khari Mosley, Regional Program Manager for the BlueGreen Alliance at an event in Harrisburg.
“The goals of job growth and protecting the environment are not mutually exclusive, and in fact, the emergence of green building technology is helping to spur new industries and exciting new careers,” said Rep. DiGirolamo. “That is why I am pleased to work with Representative Conklin and other members of the Blue-Green Caucus to develop public policy that will help this industry, strengthen our economy and protect our environment.”
The Caucus has initially set its sights on increasing the amount of renewable energy generated in the state. The group called for the passage of the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) Act—already introduced as H.B. 100. If the bill became law, the state would reduce carbon pollution the equivalent of taking more than four million cars off the road, according to the PennFuture Energy Center.
“Pennsylvania communities are facing more severe effects of climate change everyday,” said Rep. Vitali. “This isn’t a problem one or two people or even one community can solve. We’re stronger together as we work to expand renewable energy, reduce emissions and protect the environment.”
The Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority has already made the commitment to invest upwards of $10 million each year since 2004 in clean energy projects. The projects selected for 2010 alone were expected to create 1,400 jobs and generate a lifetime energy savings of 10.9 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity.
“It’s not enough to invest in these industries alone. We must ensure that these good, high-paying jobs are created in our own communities. From the manufacturing of the component parts and the panels, to construction, installation, maintenance, and operation of these renewable energy systems, our nation stands to gain from these kinds of strategic investments,” said Abe Amoros of LIUNA.
“All people should have access to good jobs as well as clean air and water,” said Joanne Kilgour, Director of the Sierra Club PA Chapter. “To achieve both we must overcome the gridlock in our legislature and work together to put policies in place that support our communities, our workers, and a healthy environment.”