Indianapolis, IN – 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. Members of the labor, business and environmental communities held a conference call today to highlight the report and the benefits to the state of implementing smart policies to spur freight rail investment.
Listen to the audio from the call.
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 were 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 and expanding freight is an opportunity to jumpstart the economy of Indiana by creating good, green jobs,” said Robin Rich from United Steelworkers District 7. “With so many Americans out of work, we must start making smart investments and implementing policies to spur job growth. Freight rail expansion is one of the smartest investments we can make to get people back to work.”
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.
“Our economic competitiveness depends on the strength of America’s freight rail infrastructure,” said Tom Conway, Regional Program Manager for the BlueGreen Alliance. “Expanding freight rail will create and save jobs, and be a big benefit to Indiana’s communities.”
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.
“Jobs in freight rail really are green jobs, because rail is much more efficient than trucking and more traditional highway transportation,” said Bowden Quinn, the Conservation Program Coordinator of the Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter. “By implementing smart policies, like tax credits for capital investment in rail, we will create and preserve jobs in Indiana and leave a better economy and environment for future generations.”
“The freight rail industry has nearly doubled the amount of goods shipped without increasing fuel consumption over the past few decades, making freight rail a very green way to move goods around the country,” said Conway. “Expanding freight rail will help us meet our goals of creating good jobs, reducing pollution and our dependence on foreign 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.