Business, Labor, Environmental Leaders Say Climate Change Challenge Poses Opportunity for Jobs, Energy Independence at Canton Town Hall Meeting
Canton, Ohio – Increasing investment in the “green” economy could produce tens of thousands of new Ohio manufacturing jobs in the coming years, presenting enormous opportunity to combat climate change while improving a lagging economy and setting our nation on the road to energy independence.
That was the consensus of more than 75 people who attended a town hall Wednesday night hosted by the United Steelworkers, and sponsored by the BlueGreen Alliance along with former Vice President Al Gore’s We Campaign. The meeting was one of 13 held nationwide this month to highlight opportunities for high-paying domestic jobs in renewable energy, clean technology, and “green” manufacturing while discussing environmental and economic risks associated with accelerating climate change.
“We are looking towards a future – a very near future – in which good, high paying American jobs will be created with the onset of a green economy,” said Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers. “Developing, manufacturing, installing and maintaining new technologies to fuel our homes and businesses will create a whole new industry that will translate into millions of new jobs.”
The BlueGreen Alliance, a partnership between the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club, is working with the We Campaign and the Alliance for Climate Protection to raise awareness about the global climate crisis and to encourage their members to advocate solutions that promote economic prosperity.
“Green jobs are blue collar jobs with a green purpose,” explained Dennis Brommer of the United Steelworkers. “Timkin Company, right down the street, is heavily involved in this green industry. They make roller bearings which are used in wind turbines.”
Stark County Democratic Party Chair Johnnie Maier said, “Creating green jobs and helping our environment means thinking differently and just doing things in a smarter way. In Massillon, a company called FiberCorr makes corrugated cardboard from 100 percent recycled content. Now, they are adding a biomass facility that will produce energy from waste products from their own plant, and from other factories as well. That’s the kind of thinking we need.”
Canton’s Mayor William J. Healy, II, spoke to the crowd about his recent participation in the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting where attendees laid out their top 10 priorities for the future. “Our number one priority is energy. Specifically an energy block-grant program to lower our carbon footprints and create green jobs to help our communities,” he said. He also noted that 850 mayors, including him, have signed onto the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement.
Andrew Eslich, a 13-year-old from Massillon Middle School founded the Stop Global Warming Club after seeing An Inconvenient Truth. “Students are the future, and the future is in our hands. So we decided to take action. We started a recycling program at my school and contacted the Sterilite Company which generously agreed to donate recycling bins. This year we collected more than 20 tons of paper to be recycled,” he said. “More than 800 students signed a petition asking our mayor to sign the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, and shortly afterwards, he did.”
There are 2,156 firms in Ohio currently active in the industrial sectors that could supply component parts to meet the demand, resulting in a $3.6 billion investment in manufacturing. Just in Ohio, approximately 23,000 new jobs in Wind, Solar, Geothermal, and Biomass energy could be created by adding 74,000 MW of renewable energy projects. This means new jobs for skilled trades, including electricians, steamfitters, plumbers, and sheet-metal workers.
“With a struggling economy and record-high energy prices, we have to think strategically about how to move our country toward energy independence, improve the economy, at the same time find solutions to the global climate crisis,” said David Foster, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “By investing in the growth of industries that create good green jobs, we can accomplish all of these goals at once.”
For more information, logon to www.wecansolveit.org/steelworkers.