Complemented by Clean Energy Policies, Labor-Environmental Partnership Says Regulations Will Create Jobs, Increase America’s Economic Competitiveness
WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 15, 2011) Saying the failure to act will damage U.S. competitiveness, the BlueGreen Alliance – a national partnership of 10 major U.S. labor unions and four of America’s most influential environmental organizations – today said that they support the actions by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, urging Congress to reject efforts to weaken this authority. In addition, the labor-environmental partnership proposed a series of complementary policies Congress must pass to ensure the U.S. remains competitive while creating millions of American jobs. The statement comes as the House Energy and Commerce Committee takes up legislation to curtail EPA’s greenhouse gas regulating authority.
View the BlueGreen Alliance’s statement, Protecting Our Health and Safety, Building a Stronger Economy.
“In order for the U.S. to remain economically competitive, and in order to address our ongoing energy challenges, we must take action now to reduce carbon emissions,” said BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director David Foster. “EPA regulations on greenhouse gases, coupled with important policies to expand clean energy and address international competitiveness, will create good American jobs, strengthen our economic recovery and launch the U.S. into the lead of the 21st century global economy.”
The BlueGreen Alliance proposed a series of complementary actions that address industry concerns about capital availability, international competitiveness and energy policies, including creating clear market signals for clean energy development, adopting measures to prevent “carbon leakage” and promote global competitiveness, as well as guaranteed access to capital markets for energy-intensive industries, and critical policies to expand manufacturing, including passage of the Brown-Stabenow-Cantwell SEAM Act, which extends the 48C Advanced Energy Tax Credit and transitional investment measures like the IMPACT Act.
“The U.S. must be positioned to lead in the global economy of the 21st century, and thoughtful measures to reduce carbon emissions will spur the kind of economic growth needed to put the U.S. economy back on track,” said Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers and a co-founder of the BlueGreen Alliance. “These regulations must be accompanied by policies that dramatically ramp up the U.S.’s commitment to clean energy – which will allow us to both save and create good jobs across the country.”
In addition, the BlueGreen Alliance proposed investments in cleaner, more advanced power generation, including assistance for advancements in and rapid deployment of technology, improving efficiency and helping to maintain highly-skilled and living wage jobs. They also urged assistance for workers and communities affected by such a transition.
“We are committed to a healthy environment and the creation of clean energy jobs, and utility workers will be on the front lines of the clean energy economy,” said D. Michael Langford, National President of the Utility Workers Union of America. “With the right policies and investments that help America’s industries retool, including the rapid deployment of clean energy and technology assistance for maintaining good jobs, we believe that EPA measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will position the United States to compete in an ever-cleaner and more efficient 21st century economy.”
UAW President Bob King suggested that the regulation of mobile sources has been a “win-win” for the auto sector. “This is a pretty simple equation: new technologies required by such standards bring additional content on each vehicle, and that requires more engineers, more managers, and more construction and production workers,” said King. “Meanwhile, we achieve greater oil independence for our nation and a cleaner, healthier environment for ourselves and our children.”
“Reducing emissions will create good jobs and improve public health and the environment,” said Michael J. Sullivan, General President of the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association. “Our members are making buildings healthier and more efficient. They understand the importance of clean air. With responsible action by the EPA on the Clean Air Act, we will make America cleaner and more competitive.”
The BlueGreen Alliance is a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations working to expand the number and quality of jobs in the green economy. Launched in 2006 by the United Steelworkers and Sierra Club, the BlueGreen Alliance now includes the Communications Workers of America, Natural Resources Defense Council, Service Employees International Union, National Wildlife Federation, Laborers’ International Union of North America, Union of Concerned Scientists, Utility Workers Union of America, American Federation of Teachers, Amalgamated Transit Union, Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association, United Auto Workers and the United Food and Commercial Workers – uniting 14 million members and supporters in pursuit of good jobs and a clean environment.
“We have to get moving on common-sense solutions to improve the environment and to improve the public health of workers and our communities,” said SEIU President Mary Kay Henry. “Regulating greenhouse gasses, along with these common-sense policies, will do that while also creating good jobs and launching the U.S. to the head of the pack in a race for the global clean energy economy.”
“By embracing common-sense solutions to our environmental challenges – which is exactly what Administrator Jackson plans to do – we can strengthen current industries and create new ones to increase America’s competitiveness,” said Carl Pope, Chairman of the Sierra Club and a co-founder of the BlueGreen Alliance. “Reducing carbon pollution will protect our health and our planet while creating good, middle-class jobs that this country needs in the 21st century economy.”