Labor, Conservation Leaders Call for Fully Funded Sandy Relief without Delay
WASHINGTON, DC (January 15, 2013) – As Congress considers legislation to deliver billions in long-overdue aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy, BlueGreen Alliance labor and conservation leaders urged Congress to pass a fully funded, forward-looking aid package to help victims and their communities rebuild. They also urged Congress and the President to begin a national dialogue on climate change that includes a strategic plan for rebuilding America’s infrastructure – including energy, water, communications, and transportation systems – that can mitigate the worst impacts of extreme weather down the road and create good jobs for the American people.
In a press tele-conference today, Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) President Mike Langford, whose members have been on the front lines aiding hurricane victims, along with BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director David Foster, National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Vice President John Kostyack and SMART Assistant to the General President Marc Norberg, all spoke to the urgent need to deliver disaster aid, the economic benefits of addressing climate change and the many ways that improved protections can lead to job creation.
“Partisanship should end where Americans are suffering, and thousands have already waited too long to receive aid,” said UWUA’s Mike Langford. “The problem is much larger than Hurricane Sandy’s destruction. Across the country, our infrastructure is in urgent need of repairs that requires billions in new federal investments.”
In the wake of the storm, the BlueGreen Alliance urged leaders to move forward in three ways that would have the most impact, including: urging President Obama to foster a national conversation on climate change, stricter limits on carbon pollution and addressing the terrible deficit in our nation’s infrastructure.
“Going forward, we cannot ignore yet another opportunity to engage as a nation in confronting the staggering costs of climate change,” said BlueGreen Alliance’s David Foster. “Besides protecting human lives and preventing billions in damage from future storms, preparing for and addressing climate change will create jobs, improve efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand the use of renewable energy.”
The leaders emphasized that rising sea levels on the East Coast over the last 100 years are a well-documented fact, but almost nothing has been spent on preparing for these effects. Addressing climate change however, can yield significant economic benefits.
“In the past few decades we’ve been watching as sea levels have risen,” said NWF’s John Kostyack. “Some communities have begun drawing up the necessary adaptation plans but the federal government has left its head in the sand. Now more than ever we need Congress to lead on addressing climate change.”
Every $1 billion invested in water infrastructure is estimated to create more than 20,000 new jobs. Further investments in our utilities and transportation systems will yield even more benefits and jobs.
“We also should ensure that this reconstruction program is economically efficient so that it will create jobs that pay good wages, provide decent benefits and protect workers’ rights, health and safety,” said George Kohl with CWA. “In this way, we will not only reconstruct our infrastructure but also our middle class.”
“The storm is long gone, but the need to make major repairs to our rail systems is not,” said SMART’s Marc Norberg. “We need to get going on a long term, strategic vision that guides our transportation investments into the future.”
Listen to the tele-press conference below.