Congressman Rick Nolan, Labor and Civic Leaders Discuss Environmental, Economic Benefits of Fixing Systems Minnesotans Rely on Every Day
MOUNTAIN IRON, MN (August 8, 2014) – The BlueGreen Alliance today hosted a roundtable discussion with U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan on the importance of repairing Minnesota’s infrastructure and making Minnesota’s industries more energy efficient to create and maintain family-sustaining jobs and address climate change.
“I was pleased to be part of this great event and it is critical that we invest in our infrastructure to make our communities safe and healthy, create family-sustaining jobs for workers, and to cut down inefficiencies,” said Congressman Nolan.
The event is part of the BlueGreen Alliance’s Repair America effort—a nationwide push to educate and mobilize the public around fixing our nation’s most basic systems. Last year, the group released a report that showed Minnesota has a lot to gain by taking action to repair our infrastructure and address climate change. An estimated 114,000 jobs a year could be created and sustained across the Minnesota economy by making much-needed investments in our basic infrastructure systems.
“Our infrastructure is the foundation upon which our country stands,” said Bob Ryan, Rapid Response Coordinator for United Steelworkers (USW) District 11. “Repairing this infrastructure will create good, union jobs making the steel to rebuild bridges and rails, making the concrete that will be poured to repair our roads, and building the components and materials used to generate renewable energy, like wind turbines and solar panels. And, it will help our environment.”
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has given America’s infrastructure a “D+” grade. According to ASCE, $6 billion is needed in drinking water infrastructure over the next 20 years in Minnesota alone and driving on roads in need of repair costs Minnesota motorists $797 million a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs—$250 per motorist.
“We’ve seen the impacts of climate change through more severe and more frequent storms, floods, droughts, and other weather events that lead to dangerous conditions like wildfires and massive infrastructure damage,” said Sara Letourneau, Director of Field for the BlueGreen Alliance. “A changing climate is a threat to our health, to our communities and to economy, and we cannot afford to wait any longer to act. That’s why we support the common-sense U.S. Climate Action Plan that includes standards to limit carbon pollution from power plants, investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency and repairing our nation’s most basic systems to ensure that they are ready for the impacts of climate change.”
In addition to the infrastructure focus, the group discussed the need to make Minnesota’s industry more energy efficient, highlighting a new law that passed this year that will allow the Department of Commerce to give low-interest loans to companies, hospitals, and other large energy users to cut their energy waste.
“This is a good start toward improving energy efficiency for large energy users and we should build on this program to implement other strategies to help companies remain competitive by reducing energy waste,” said Ryan.