BlueGreen Alliance Recommends Five Key Actions to Bolster American Manufacturing

Today BlueGreen Alliance Deputy Director, Yvette Pena Lopes made five key recommendations to lawmakers regarding the future of America’s manufacturing sector before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

March 21, 2013

BlueGreen Alliance Recommends Five Key Actions to Bolster American Manufacturing

WASHINGTON, DC (March 21, 2013) – Today BlueGreen Alliance Deputy Director, Yvette Pena Lopes made five key recommendations to lawmakers regarding the future of America’s manufacturing sector before the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade. The full text of the testimony is available here.

“Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member and Members of the Subcommittee, I am Yvette Pena Lopes, Deputy Director of the BlueGreen Alliance. On behalf of my organization, our fourteen national labor and environmental partners and the estimated 15 million members and supporters they represent, I want to thank you for holding this hearing today.

“We appreciate the invitation to testify and are honored to join the other panelists from the Congressional Steel Caucus and the steel industry, in particular the CEOs of ArcelorMittal; Allegheny Technologies; and Evraz, who are each valued members of the BlueGreen Alliance’s Corporate Advisory Council.

“The United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club founded the BlueGreen Alliance in 2006, and have since grown to incorporate 12 other labor and environmental organizations to create an Alliance built with a wide variety of priorities and backgrounds.  Our partners have come together to move America towards a 21st century clean economy, and manufacturing has consistently been a major focus of our Alliance.

“The economic downturn and years of shifting manufacturing production took a significant toll on U.S. manufacturers and their workers.  America has begun to change this, but much more needs to be done to bring these jobs back and ensure that American manufacturing — and the steel industry in particular — are drivers of America’s 21st century clean economy.

“To achieve this rebirth, we must implement the following five drivers of American manufacturing:

“First, we must rebuild our nation’s infrastructure. Investments in our infrastructure can yield tremendous benefits, including jobs and expanded demand in our domestic steel sector.

“One out of every four of the nation’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, nearly a quarter of the nation’s bus and rail infrastructure is in marginal or poor condition.

“Across the country, 700,000 tons of steel plate is used annually in bridge and building construction projects. If a properly structured infrastructure program is implemented, job creation for the manufacturing sector could clear 250,000 new jobs.

“Second, we must deploy more industrial energy efficiency. Energy efficiency leverages productivity and power from resources that, in many cases, would otherwise literally vanish into thin air.

“When combined with smart policies aimed at minimizing the economic impact to power providers, efficiency gains can be a win for manufacturers, utilities, workers, consumers, and the environment.

“Third, we must integrate more advanced transportation and clean energy into our economy. Whether it is more efficient technology and advanced materials for automobiles, commercial-scale wind turbines, or rail lines, steel is a necessary component for these industries that will drive the 21st century.

“Last year, the Obama administration set forth the strongest clean car standards in a generation.  Making conventional technology significantly more efficient and using advanced materials to make our cars stronger yet lighter which will make the biggest contributions toward getting the American vehicle fleet to 54.5 miles per gallon over the next 12 years.

“Over the next decade, an estimated $2.3 trillion will be invested in clean technologies. However, according to Ernst and Young the U.S. renewable energy investment climate is losing attractiveness while countries like China and Germany are gaining ground.

“Existing policy support for clean energy does not provide adequate long-term certainty for the industry to succeed. We must implement long-term policy certainty.

“Fourth, we must ensure products and components are made in America. Buy America policies reflect where the jobs are, not where the manufacturing companies are headquartered or incorporated. This approach ensures that taxpayer dollars are reinvested in jobs and communities here at home.

“Fifth, we must continue to support research and development. Manufacturing is responsible for 70 percent of all private-sector research and development spending and 90 percent of all American patents.

The Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office recently launched the Innovative Manufacturing Initiative. One of the projects selected was a partnership between DOE, Arcellor Mittal, U.S. Steel and others to produce Flash Iron-making technology, which is a cleaner, coke-free way to produce iron from abundant domestic iron ore concentrates and natural gas, with 32-57 percent improved energy productivity.

“We must continue to support R&D such as this, as well as the work being done at the Department of Commerce.

“Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member, and fellow Members of the Subcommittee we truly believe that these five measures will go a long way toward helping America and its workers reinvigorate the steel sector, U.S. manufacturing, and the middle class AND move America to a clean economy, while ensuring that we continue to address climate change.

“Once again, thank you for the opportunity to testify today.”