Erie Leaders Urge Infrastructure Repairs Be Prioritized

Local labor and environmental leaders called for action to better prepare Pennsylvania’s infrastructure for the impact of a changing climate in a way that will also create and maintain good jobs for American workers.

August 19, 2014

Event Highlights Local Climate Change, Need for Robust Infrastructure Investments

ERIE, PA – Local labor and environmental leaders today called for action to better prepare Pennsylvania’s infrastructure for the impact of a changing climate in a way that will also create and maintain good jobs for American workers. Leaders, including Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper, discussed how investing in our infrastructure can help prepare for the effects of climate change.

“Our neighbors on Lake Erie are all concerned about the water issues we’re seeing in the Great Lakes. The nearly 500,000 people in Toledo who were left without water is a warning sign for all of us that we need to do more to repair our infrastructure systems,” said Dahlkemper.

The American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) gave the state’s drinking water and transit systems a “D” grade on its report card for infrastructure last year. Roads and bridges and wastewater systems were rated even worse, earning “D-“ grades.

“Our infrastructure is the foundation upon which our country stands,” said Greg Bible, President of USW Local 3199. “To make repairing it into a partisan debate is a travesty. Without a world-class infrastructure, the U.S. will fall behind the rest of the world economically. Investing in, and fixing these systems now will protect our communities, and create good jobs.”

Beyond infrastructure, the discussion included ways to expand clean energy infrastructure and promote energy efficiency as tools for effectively meeting the goals of the U.S. Climate Action Plan, which features the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants, as well as efforts to spur growth in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“Pennsylvania is dealing with more severe extreme weather events and this plan will help address that in the long-term, for generations to come,” said Randy Francisco, Sierra Club. “The facts about how climate change is already affecting us today, speak for themselves.”

Investments in our infrastructure can yield tremendous benefits, including jobs and stimulating local economies. Pennsylvania has reported $13.9 billion in drinking water infrastructure needs over the next 20 years. Estimates show that for every $1 billion invested in water infrastructure, more than 20,000 new jobs could be created.

“We can grow the local manufacturing industry, protect the environment and create American jobs by repairing Pennsylvania’s infrastructure systems,” said Gregory Scott, P.E., Senior Project Manager at Buchart Horn and ASCE Pittsburgh Section PA Report Card Chair. “We can’t afford to wait; we need to get to work now.”

“We had a great discussion today about the need to both prepare our infrastructure systems for climate change and take steps to address it,” said Khari Mosley, Regional Program Manager for the BlueGreen Alliance. “It’s time Pennsylvania’s leaders move forward with efforts to grow renewable energy, reduce the carbon pollution driving climate change, modernize our infrastructure, and protect our communities. But they’ll only do that if people hold their feet to the fire.”

“Today’s event was successful and we’ll continue to promote this effort to Repair America around the state to help inform people of the problem and to get them to help push for action on it,” added Mosley.