WASHINGTON, DC (December 5, 2013) – The BlueGreen Alliance today announced a proposal to finance the transition costs for America’s workers and their communities as the country moves toward cleaner energy. A Clean Energy Transition Fund would ensure that workers affected by power plant closures benefit from retraining and other economic assistance programs. Also, their communities would receive targeted economic development assistance to create new jobs to replace those lost in a clean energy economy.
“We know that when American industries are challenged to do better, they rise to the occasion,” said David Foster, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “So there’s no reason that the transition to a cleaner, more efficient and sustainable energy supply shouldn’t also benefit America’s workers, especially those already working in the power sector. Key stakeholders cannot be left behind.”
In response to President Obama’s climate action plan to curb carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, the BlueGreen Alliance has proposed a Clean Energy Transition Fund to 1) pay retraining and transition costs to affected employees, 2) fund economic development planning and growth initiatives to affected communities, 3) support the deployment of new technologies, and 4) fund climate-smart infrastructure projects that create and maintain U.S. manufacturing jobs.
“We can’t fully make the transition to a clean energy future without those who are powering it today,” said Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers (USW). “Training and economic development programs are key to this policy. The growth of clean, homegrown energy technologies should not only create jobs for America’s manufacturing and construction workers, but also provide employment to those whose jobs are at risk in a changing energy economy.”
“Solving the climate crisis means significant carbon pollution reductions,” said Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director. “While that is a priority, we have to do our best to protect our nation’s most vulnerable communities and move forward in a way that doesn’t leave workers and families behind. A cleaner environment and better economy are within our reach with the help of critical policies like the Clean Energy Transition Fund.”
“Financing to ensure a just transition for working people must be a part of any clean energy transition,” said Utility Workers Union of America President, Mike Langford. “Just as regulated utilities can recover their stranded costs when power plants close, so the workers and communities affected by these closures should be able to recover their investment in blood, sweat and tears through job training, economic support, and new job opportunities. We can fortify America’s place in the 21st century economy with a clean energy strategy, but we need to invest in America’s workers and their communities to get us there.”
The full policy statement by the BlueGreen Alliance is available online here.