BlueGreen Alliance “Repair America” Campaign Focuses on Fixing Local Infrastructure, Preparing Communities for Climate Change, Creating Good Jobs
WARREN, MI – Today, local and national union, environmental and partner organizations called for action to Repair America, a new campaign to fix America’s infrastructure, better prepare communities for the effects of climate change, and fix our roads and bridges and water, wastewater, transit, electric and communications systems. These fixes will create good jobs for workers and safeguard communities from severe weather such as floods like those seen recently in Michigan last month, droughts and other extreme weather.
“The current state of disrepair of our infrastructure is a challenge for Michigan,” said David Foster, BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director. “We must begin a serious conversation about addressing our infrastructure preparedness in the face of the impacts of climate change. We need long-term innovative solutions that will protect communities and the environment, and keep and produce good jobs all at the same time.”
The town hall event took place on the heels of the governor’s declaration of a state of disaster in 19 counties and two cities that dealt with recent flooding from significant rainfall last month. The flooding closed a 20-mile stretch of highway in the Upper Peninsula and imperiled water quality in communities in the metro region and west side of the state.
“We owe it to ourselves to have an A-plus infrastructure system. It will ensure America remains competitive, and ensure we aren’t wasting water, gas and electricity,” said Michael Langford, Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) President. “If we don’t invest now, it’ll be far more costly to all of us in the long run — especially as climate change brings more destructive weather.”
Super Storm Sandy left millions of Americans without power and heat for weeks and transit systems were flooded and unusable.
“There’s a lot at stake for the nation and our economy,” said Brian Pallasch, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Managing Director. “There are few needs more basic for a strong economy than roads, bridges, transit, water systems and the electric grid. We must invest accordingly.”
The American Society of Civil Engineers has given America’s infrastructure a grade of D+ and said that $3.6 trillion is needed by 2020 to shore up these systems.
“America’s roads, bridges and transit systems are in dire need of repair,” said Roxanne Brown, Assistant Legislative Director for the United Steelworkers (USW). “At the same time, Americans are in need of jobs. That’s what the Repair America campaign is all about. We can protect communities and the environment, while maintaining and creating good, family-sustaining jobs.”
According to ASCE, the American electrical grid is a “patchwork system” deserving of a D+ grade; the nation’s drinking water and wastewater earned a D and our schools earned a D grade.
“Our schools are an integral part of America’s infrastructure,” said David Hecker, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Michigan President. “We can’t say that we value education above all else and send our children to schools that are falling apart every day. We must invest in modernizing and repairing our schools.”
Between 2011 and 2013, the U.S. spent $136 billion on disaster relief.
“Climate change is happening and it puts our food and water supply at risk, endangers our health, jeopardizes our national security, and threatens other basic human needs,” said Steve Frenkel, Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) Midwest Director. “Now, more than ever, we need to invest in our communities to become more resilient to a changing climate while we also invest in transitioning to a sustainable, low-carbon economy that can help reduce the threat of climate change.”