Gilman Along with Labor, Environmental Leaders Urge Infrastructure Investments to Better Protect Communities from the Effects of Climate Change
PITTSBURGH (April 22, 2014) – Councilman Dan Gilman joined labor and environmental leaders today—on Earth Day—to call for swift passage of a resolution introduced supporting efforts to repair Pittsburgh’s crumbling infrastructure systems. These systems include roads and bridges, water, wastewater, transit, energy, and natural gas distribution systems.
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) publishes a Report Card for America’s Infrastructure every four years, and in 2013, the nation earned a “D+” average. Pennsylvania’s grade was slightly higher, earning a “C-” average for infrastructure systems across the state.
“Most of us do not even notice infrastructure until it stops working—perhaps when a bridge is closed causing us to be late for work, when our levees are tested by extreme weather caused by climate disruption, when freezing rain causes the power in our neighborhood to go out, or when a water main breaks, which happens every two minutes in our country,” said Councilman Gilman. “It’s time to change our mindset about our infrastructure. Without action, these systems will continue to get worse.”
The Repair America resolution is an effort to recognize that these investments would impact job creation, and better protect communities from the impacts of climate change.
“From stronger storms to flooding to other dangers, we know that as our climate changes it imperils our communities and our families,” said Rachel Martin Golman, Senior Organizing Manager at the Sierra Club. “Repairing our infrastructure will protect workers, the environment and communities and produce good jobs, while making our economy and the environment prosper.”
Inefficient infrastructure creates more waste and carbon pollution driving climate change. For example, there are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks a year. Replacing that leaked water requires energy to pump even more water, resulting in not just water waste, but energy waste as well. A Chicago State University study showed that by reducing the amount of water leaked annually in the U.S. by only 5 percent would result in saving enough energy to power 31,000 homes for a year and cut 225,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
“Today we’re faced with both a challenge and an opportunity to prepare infrastructure systems for the increasingly severe and more frequent storms and droughts that we are experiencing,” said Khari Mosley. “Investing now will put people to work rebuilding pipes, roads, bridges, transit, and energy transmission systems. And, it will make our infrastructure systems more efficient, reducing energy and water waste, as well as carbon pollution that drives climate change.”
With the introduction of today’s resolution, Pittsburgh joins many other communities across the country calling for investments to fix the basic systems people rely on every day—for power, water, to communicate with each other, and to get people and goods from place to place—which will create family-sustaining jobs, help address climate change, and ensure our communities are safer and healthier.
“Union members play a vital role in our nation’s infrastructure systems and domestic manufacturing,” said Dewitt Walton, United Steelworkers. “We also have a commitment to responding to the threat of climate change because not only will this protect our environment and our communities. If we do it right, it will also create good jobs and economic growth in manufacturing and across all sectors of the country.”