Infrastructure Improvements Could Create 14.5 Million Job-Years, Increase GDP By 1.66 Trillion, Reduce Emissions Over Next Decade

Sens. Carper, Duckworth, U.S. Reps. Bustos, Dingell, Labor, Environmental Leaders Release Report Focused on How Getting America’s Infrastructure to a “B” Grade Could Benefit Workers, Environment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 8, 2017) – Leaders from the BlueGreen Alliance were joined by Sen. Tom Carper (D – DE) and Tammy Duckworth (D – IL) and U.S. Reps. Cheri Bustos (IL –17) and Debbie Dingell (MI – 12) to release a new report today that analyzes the jobs and environmental impact of raising the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Infrastructure Report Card grades—which gave the U.S. an overall “D+” grade—in a variety of sectors to “B” grades over the next decade.

The report, entitled Making the Grade 2.0: Investing in America’s Infrastructure to Create Quality Jobs and Protect the Environment, found that investing an estimated $2.2 trillion in America’s infrastructure in these sectors over the next decade to improve them from a “D+” grade overall to a “B” grade—coupled with investments in our natural gas distribution systems—has the potential to support or create an additional 14.5 million job-years across the U.S. economy over that time span, versus a business as-usual approach. A job-year is a job that employs a person full-time for one year.

In addition, it would add a cumulative $1.66 trillion to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over 10 years and reduce greenhouse gas pollution.

“For years, we’ve underfunded our nation’s infrastructure, which has come at the expense of economic growth today and increasing costs in the years to come,” said Sen. Tom Carper (D – Delaware), the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. “Things that are worth having are worth paying for, and our nation and our economy are in dire need of a historic investment in infrastructure. We have an incredible opportunity to create millions of good-paying jobs, cut greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change, and build a resilient, modern national infrastructure system that lays the foundation for generations of economic growth.”

“It’s no secret that Illinois—much like many other states across the country—is in need of a major upgrade when it comes to its infrastructure,” said Duckworth. “By rebuilding our highways, transit and water systems, we have the opportunity to create millions of good-paying union jobs, build up American manufacturing, and reduce our climate impact. Federal investments in infrastructure projects are especially important in Illinois, where many capital construction projects have been delayed due to the two-year long budget impasse. I look forward to continuing my work to grow our nation’s economy and protect our natural resources through improvements in our infrastructure.”

“In Illinois and around the country, our infrastructure is in dire need of repair,” said U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos. “This report is just the latest data supporting the need for major investments in our infrastructure to create more good-paying jobs here at home. One of my top priorities in this effort is making sure that we utilize American-made products and materials as we rebuild our roads, bridges, airports, locks and dams, and drinking water systems. Doing so will help us build up American manufacturing while creating and sustaining good jobs for working families.”

“The time for talk should be in the rear view mirror, and need for Congress to act now becomes more critical each day,” said Rep. Dingell. “America’s infrastructure is in disrepair, decrepit and decayed. There are no Democratic or Republican potholes and the American people want us to address this crisis in a bipartisan manner. Investing in infrastructure will create jobs and grow our economy while also benefitting the environment at the same time. We aren’t spending enough on infrastructure today and making big, bold investments in the foundation of our country will benefit all Americans.”

“American workers, our communities, the economy and environment all stand to benefit from smart investments in infrastructure,” said United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard. “We must seize this opportunity to rebuild our roads, bridges, the electrical grid and other systems using domestically produced materials.”

“More urgently than ever, we need to create and sustain good jobs, make our industries more competitive, grow the economy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and better prepare communities to handle dangerous weather events like Hurricane Harvey,” said Gerard. “For the sake of our children and grandchildren, it is now time to commit to modernizing, updating and improving our infrastructure.”

“Nearly half of America’s school buildings were built in the 1950s and 1960s to educate baby boomers, which means repairs, renovations, and modernizations are needed to ensure these buildings are in good shape for students today,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. “Our children, our teachers, and our support staff deserve to be in schools that are safe and healthy. And, modernizing schools will create good jobs in our communities.”

“Investing in a reliable and resilient infrastructure is just smart money. It delivers a triple dividend: it creates jobs and economic benefits for workers, families, and communities; it produces environmental and public health benefits; and it saves money in the long run,” said Kathleen Rest, Executive Director of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “We have seen how falling behind on infrastructure investments has brought us contaminated water, underfunded and unsafe transportation systems, and an antiquated electrical grid that can’t keep up with advances in clean energy that can help reduce air pollution, including emissions that drive climate change. Everyone benefits when we repair America’s infrastructure and invest in making it more resilient to the increasingly severe impacts of extreme weather events, as well as mitigating exposures to materials and chemicals that are hazardous to human health.”

Making the Grade 2.0 also provides a roadmap for local, state, and federal policymakers that can be used to ensure infrastructure investments maximize benefits for workers, communities, and the environment.

“It isn’t enough for us just to make the investment, we have to do it the right way,” said International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers President James Boland. “We need our leaders in Washington and in states and cities around the country to implement the right policies that will ensure the jobs created by these investments are quality jobs, with fair wages and benefits, and that workers are safe on the job.”

The recommendations for Congress and state and local policy makers include: using “Buy America” standards that maximize the return on investment to taxpayers; enforcing prevailing wage provisions to make sure workers get a fair wage for a fair day’s work; project labor and community benefits agreements; utilizing collective bargaining and agreements that empower workers; smarter procurement practices that prioritize health and safety; forward-thinking planning to build more resilient infrastructure to help deal with the challenges that extreme weather events like Hurricane Harvey will bring; enhancing worker training; and prioritizing public funding and financing for projects.

“America’s infrastructure is the backbone of our economy, and we’ve been ignoring it for far too long,” said BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Kim Glas. “Hurricane Harvey was yet another example of the kinds of storms we’ll see more frequently in the future and we must prepare our infrastructure to be up to the task of protecting people from them.”

The report and audio from the call are available at https://www.bluegreenalliance.org/makingthegrade2.

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