Freight Rail Supporters Discuss How Investments in Freight Rail Can Create Green Jobs in Illinois

Congressman Lipinski, State Rep. Nekritz, and Others Highlight “Full Speed Ahead” Report on Job Creation Potential and Environmental Benefits of Freight Rail

November 30, 2010

Congressman Lipinski, State Rep. Nekritz, and Others Highlight “Full Speed Ahead” Report on Job Creation Potential and Environmental Benefits of Freight Rail

CHIGAGO, IL – Investments in America’s freight rail system could create thousands of green jobs while improving our nation’s infrastructure and reducing carbon emissions and U.S. dependence on foreign oil, according to a report released by the BlueGreen Alliance and the Economic Policy Institute. Congressman Dan Lipinski (D – IL), State Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook), and members of the labor and environmental communities gathered today at Hanover Park in Summit to highlight the report and the benefits to the state of implementing smart policies to spur freight rail investment.

Full Speed Ahead: Creating Green Jobs Through Freight Rail Expansion shows that the expansion of freight rail in the U.S. can create approximately 7,800 green jobs for every $1 billion of capital invested and serves as a guide for policy makers on sustaining and expanding the domestic freight rail network. If this is expanded to include re-spending by freight rail and supporting industry employees, between 12,300 and 26,600 American jobs would be created or sustained per $1 billion invested.

“Investing in freight rail will create good, green jobs here in Illinois and help us reduce our nation’s  dependence on foreign oil, while also easing congestion for motorists and making passenger rail more efficient,” said Congressman Lipinski. “In addition, rail is the most economical, fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly solution we have to move freight in America. That’s why I have worked successfully to obtain $333 million in federal funding for the CREATE rail modernization program and continue to work to fully fund the critical freight projects it includes.”

The European Union has planned for $300 billion in infrastructure improvements and China $200 billion over the next decade, but America is expected to invest only $150 billion over that same time span.

“As we face tough economic times, we should look at the role that rail plays in economic development, job creation and job preservation,” said State Rep. Nekritz. “We need to look for ways to create jobs, and freight rail provides us not only the opportunity to do that, but also ensures that America has the infrastructure in place to move goods and compete in a global economy.”

“Illinois continues to struggle to get out of this recession and our unemployment rate is still higher than the national average,” said Willis Jepsen, Financial Secretary Treasurer/General Chairman Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association, U.S. District Council of Railroads. “We should invest in freight rail and adopt common-sense policies like tax credits for rail capital investments, targeted to support freight rail capacity expansion, to create these good, green jobs.”

Full Speed Ahead also found that freight rail is much more efficient than other forms of transportation and continues to innovate to become more efficient. One example in the report shows how TTX Company has innovated and prevented more than 2.5 billion empty miles per year and saved more than 167 million gallons of fuel annually.

“Rail is a much more efficient method to move freight across our country,” said Jack Darin, Director of the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Over the past few decades, the freight rail industry has nearly doubled the amount of goods ships without increasing fuel consumption. Expanding freight rail will help us meet our goals of creating good jobs while reducing pollution and our dependence on oil.”

Policy recommendations in the report for lawmakers include support for tax credits for rail capital investments, and “Buy American” provisions to ensure that the jobs created are not outsourced.