Labor & Environmental Leaders Urge More Efficient Manufacturing

A partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations urged a series of measures to make the U.S. manufacturing sector more energy efficient, which will create and maintain jobs while reducing the carbon pollution that causes climate change.

August 13, 2013

educing Wasted Energy Will Create Jobs, Reduce Carbon Pollution, and Ensure American Competitiveness

WASHINGTON, DC (August 14, 2013) – A partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations today urged a series of measures to make the U.S. manufacturing sector — the world’s largest —  more energy efficient, which will create and maintain jobs while reducing the carbon pollution that causes climate change.

The BlueGreen Alliance, in its Policy on Industrial Energy Efficiency, notes that global competition is continuing to push America’s manufacturing sector — which supports nearly 12 million jobs and represents $1.8 trillion worth of gross domestic product — to become more energy-efficient.

The policy recommends long-term goals and short-term strategies and federal investments to increase access to financing, support technological development, and drive demand for industrial energy efficiency measures.

“At its very essence, pollution is merely wasted energy during the manufacturing process,” said David Foster, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “These are common-sense ideas and investments that policymakers can and should implement to reduce carbon pollution, and create and maintain jobs by aiding companies in becoming more efficient and competitive.”

The Policy on Industrial Energy Efficiency recommends a variety of tools to achieve these goals, including improving the existing federal Investment Tax Credit for combined heat and power (CHP) —  an integrated system that simultaneously generates electricity and useful thermal energy, such as steam, from a single fuel source. In addition, the policy calls for the revitalization of the 48C Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit — a successful federal program that invested $2.3 billion to leverage $5.4 billion in private funding at 180 manufacturing facilities, creating jobs and economic growth around the country.

“Industrial energy efficiency projects provide many cost-effective opportunities to reduce energy bills and pay dividends in the long run,” said Joseph Nigro, General President of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation International Association. “Jumpstarting projects like this across the country with current technology will build the competiveness of our domestic industries, while creating and maintaining quality jobs.”

A McKinsey & Company report found that by making the manufacturing sector more efficient, the United States could reduce primary industrial energy consumption 21 percent by 2020 — saving U.S. industry $47 billion per year. But, while there are existing programs, including the President’s recent Executive Order, “Accelerating Investment in Industrial Energy Efficiency,” there are hurdles to companies making these investments.

“Making America’s industries more energy-efficient is critical to the wellbeing of our economy and the environment,” said Peter Lehner, executive director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We know energy efficiency works. And while we can build on existing programs and policies, we also need bold leadership to ensure manufacturers have the tools and resources they need to cut energy waste, reduce costs, and help slash pollution.”

Efforts to make manufacturing more efficient add value to companies, freeing up capital that would otherwise be spent on energy inputs, and helping to preserve existing jobs and create new jobs in the construction and retrofitting of the facilities.

“Ensuring that manufacturing is more efficient is good for workers, and good for our economy,” continued Nigro. “We’ve put forward a pathway to achieve that, now it’s up to Congress and President Obama to show leadership and make it happen.”