Labor, Environmental & Conservation Leaders Applaud President’s Climate Change Plan

Carbon Pollution Standards, energy efficiency and renewable energy investments, and a call to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure are part of comprehensive plan to respond to the threat of climate change, create quality American jobs

June 25, 2013

Carbon Pollution Standards, energy efficiency and renewable energy investments, and call to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure are part of comprehensive plan to respond to the threat of climate change, create quality American jobs

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 25, 2013) Today, President Barack Obama announced a plan to respond to the threat of climate change, prepare communities for its impacts, and invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy. After that announcement, the labor, environmental and conservation leaders of the BlueGreen Alliance applauded the president for taking action to address climate change because doing so will create and maintain quality jobs for American workers.

“President Obama’s plan will begin the process of addressing climate change in a comprehensive way – one in which we reduce carbon pollution, prepare our communities and our most basic systems for the impacts of increasingly severe and more frequent weather events, and create jobs across the economy,” said Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers. “We applaud the president for moving forward today and we stand with him as we do the work that needs to be done to address climate change.”

“We applaud President Obama for setting forth a plan to meet our obligation to future generations to address the causes and impacts of climate change,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “Taking action to avert the worst effects of climate change, such as investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency, will create jobs and a more resilient economy.”

Last December, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, leaders of the BlueGreen Alliance urged President Obama to elevate the urgency of climate change and develop a national strategy to put Americans back to work. The Alliance specifically urged the initiation of new standards for power plants as a strategy for reducing carbon pollution with a focus on creating and maintaining quality jobs.

“We commend the President for moving forward on this critical issue. We learned from our experience in the auto industry,” said Bob King, President of the United Auto Workers, “that when regulations are done thoughtfully, they can lead to innovation, job creation and greater global competitiveness. Our members are proud to be a part of expanding clean energy technologies and building those vehicles of the future that make us more energy efficient and globally competitive.”

The coalition also urged swift measures to ensure that workers and communities impacted by these standards are a priority for the president and members of Congress. “Limits on carbon pollution are only one part of the solution,” said D. Michael Langford, National President of the Utility Workers Union of America. “We must ensure a smooth transition for workers and communities — including training, investments in economic development, and industrial energy efficiency — to ensure that these rules create and maintain jobs and improve our economy.”

“President Obama’s plan will leave our children with a better, healthier home by addressing the costly impacts of climate change and by creating new jobs that are necessary to build a clean energy economy,” said Peter Lehner, Executive Director of the Natural Resource Defense Council. “This is not something new for America. We’ve taken major steps before to make our air and water cleaner and healthier. Those efforts made us and our economy stronger, and President Obama’s bold new initiatives promise to do the same.”

Leaders of the BlueGreen Alliance also commended the president’s attention to the nation’s terrible infrastructure deficit. As exposed by Hurricane Sandy and other extreme weather events, some of our most basic systems — water, energy, communications and transportation — are not prepared to deal with the impacts of climate change.

“The rash of extreme weather events of the last two years has demonstrated that every American community is at risk from the effects of climate change,” said Joseph Nigro, General President of SMART. “Fortunately, many of these investments can make us safer while also cutting our energy consumption and reducing carbon pollution.”

In particular, the president urged cities and states to invest in rebuilding our nation’s natural gas pipeline distribution system as a strategy for creating quality jobs across America. Methane is the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, and leakage from the country’s more than 2 million miles of pipelines is a major contributor to this problem. “We were especially pleased by the example cited by President Obama today, urging states and cities to rebuild their natural gas distribution pipeline infrastructure,” said William P. Hite, General President of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters. “This is a fixable problem, and accelerating the timeline to repair this system in seven years would create a half million jobs.”

“Our members were among those who felt the worst impacts of Hurricane Sandy,” said Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union. “We applaud the president for his comprehensive approach to the problem of climate change and pledge the support of our members in making our buildings and hospitals more energy efficient, our schools greener, and our communities better equipped to withstand the public health threats of more violent weather.”

“President Obama today is setting key milestones for meeting our obligation to the next generation by addressing climate change,” said Larry Schweiger, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “His plan will help to protect wildlife and our most treasured natural resources, while also ensuring that our communities are safeguarded from the worst effects of climate change and spurring innovation and job creation.”

“We commend the President for taking this important action,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. “AFT members and the people they serve were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy so we know first-hand the importance of preparing communities for the weather disasters that can come with climate change. And the AFT, along with others, has worked to focus investment in infrastructure projects, with an emphasis on energy-efficient retrofits. Such efforts, along with thoughtful regulation to address carbon pollution, can lead to innovation, job creation and greater global competitiveness.”

“President Obama’s plan will help to boost the resilience of our public buildings and infrastructure, including our transit systems. This support is critical after the lessons we learned from Hurricane Sandy, which left our transit systems in disrepair,” said Larry Hanley, International President of the Amalgamated Transit Union. “One key element of ensuring the ability of our systems to stand up to the impacts of climate change is ensuring that we have well-trained, experienced operators and that any plan provides assistance to support that goal.”

“The president can meet and even exceed his emissions reduction goals if he does everything in his power to make this a priority,” said Dr. Kathleen Rest, Executive Director of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “With just three years left in his administration, he’ll have to tap into the power of America’s scientists, engineers and workers as quickly as possible. The president is right to make the case that we’re all in this together, whether nurses and doctors preparing for worse heat waves, or construction crews building new wind farms.”

“The devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy served as a wake-up call for America to take climate change seriously by developing a comprehensive plan to deal with both its impacts and its causes,” said Larry Cohen, President of the Communications Workers of America. “We must ensure that any plan to combat this crisis is done in a way that is both environmentally and economically sustainable by creating quality jobs for working people and protecting their rights. The president’s effort today also highlights the critical need for the Senate to immediately move on nominations for the cabinet, NLRB and the judges that will fill the circuit court to ensure these measures are properly implemented.”

“President Obama has accomplished three important things today,” continued Foster. “First, he articulated a comprehensive plan for reducing carbon pollution that will also create and maintain hundreds of thousands of jobs all across the economy. Second, he provided a roadmap to meet our international commitment to reduce America’s emissions by 17 percent by 2020. And third, he repositioned the U.S. to lead the effort for a global agreement to protect the planet.”