Leaders Tout Ways to Protect, Produce and Prosper as We Address Climate Change, Fix America’s Infrastructure
MINNEAPOLIS – Following a roundtable discussion with local labor, environmental, business and civic leaders, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) today called for action to repair of America’s infrastructure, prepare our communities for the impacts of climate change, and reduce the carbon pollution driving climate change. The roundtable featured a discussion on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, as well as how repairing the systems Americans rely on every day — for energy, to get from one place to another, to communicate with each other, and for clean water — will create good jobs and address climate change.
“We must work to reduce carbon emissions and rebuild our infrastructure, all while creating good jobs for Minnesota’s families and the BlueGreen Alliance is leading the way,” Rep. Ellison said. “Minnesota has been on the cutting edge of green infrastructure investments with expanding light rail in the Twin Cities and wind energy projects around the state, but we need more investment. That’s why I’m in favor of a federal Infrastructure Bank, which would invest in projects around the country that will build a cleaner energy infrastructure and improve our existing roads and bridges. We can put Minnesotans back to work, but we need infrastructure projects that focus on creating green jobs that help us reduce the effects of climate change.”
In its 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave America’s overall infrastructure a “D+” grade and estimated the investment needed to shore up the systems Americans rely on every day to be $3.6 trillion by 2020. In Minnesota alone, $6 billion is needed in drinking water infrastructure repairs over the next 20 years and driving on roads in need of repair costs the average Minnesota motorist $250 a year.
“There’s a huge need for investment in our nation’s infrastructure,” said Seth Spychala, President of American Society of Civil Engineers MN Section. “From structurally deficient bridges to water mains, we need to get moving on fixing these vital systems so that we can ensure our communities are safe, eliminate waste, and create good jobs.”
During the roundtable, Rep. Ellison spoke about his support, as a co-sponsor, of a bill to fund the infrastructure priorities of America. The 2013 National Infrastructure Development Bank Act would receive $25 billion in funding over five years, using the funding as “seed money” to fund infrastructure investments around the country via loan guarantees, low-interest loans, and other ways that would leverage public and private investments to fund vital infrastructure repairs and new infrastructure.
“It’s smart ideas like the national infrastructure bank that will let us get working on repairing America,” Mona Meyer, President of the Communications Workers of America Minnesota State Council. “We’ve put off repairs to our water, energy, transit, and communications systems for far too long. It’s time we live up to our obligation to future generations by ensuring they inherit an America that can compete globally because of the strong backbone of our infrastructure.”
The roundtable discussion was one of a series of events around the country hosted by the BlueGreen Alliance and focused on the group’s Repair America campaign. Repair America is a campaign to address climate change and create good jobs. By addressing climate change — reducing carbon pollution — and getting the systems we rely on every day prepared for climate change, good jobs will be created, carbon pollution driving climate change will be reduced and communities will be protected from the impacts of climate change.
“We’ve seen the impacts of putting off repairs to our infrastructure with a water main break earlier today,” said David Foster, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “With climate change causing more extreme weather and putting more stress on our infrastructure, we need to be sure the systems we rely on every day are up to the task of protecting our families and communities. Our Repair America campaign puts this effort front and center, and we’re pleased that Rep. Ellison and leaders from so many walks of life were here today to support this effort to address climate change and create good jobs.”