Michigan Should Lead the Way on Infrastructure Repairs, Addressing Climate Change

Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell called for action to better prepare Michigan’s infrastructure for the impact of a changing climate in a way that will also create and maintain good jobs for American workers.

September 17, 2014

Event Featuring Mayor Heartwell, EPA Region 5 Administrator Hedman, Utility Workers Union of America Highlights Need to Address Climate Change, Make Robust Infrastructure Investments 

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell today called for action to better prepare Michigan’s infrastructure for the impact of a changing climate in a way that will also create and maintain good jobs for American workers. EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman and Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) participated in the event hosted by the BlueGreen Alliance and argued for action to repair and update the state’s basic systems now, not later.

“We can promote economic growth in communities like Grand Rapids by repairing infrastructure systems and addressing climate change,” said Mayor Heartwell. “Those two things go hand-in-hand. And, and both will create good jobs.”

Repairing and updating the state’s infrastructure will be good for the state’s economy. A 2013 report showed that an estimated 119,300 jobs could be created across the Michigan economy by making much-­needed investments in basic infrastructure systems.

“Repairing our basic systems will grow the economy and ensure that communities are safe and healthy,” said D. Michael Langford, UWUA National President. “Utility workers are on the front lines when there’s a weather-related outage and our members see every day how old and inefficient our infrastructure has become. Taking action now will help get communities ready for climate change, create family-sustaining jobs, and reduce the waste and inefficiencies that hit us all in the pocketbook.”

The discussion also included ways to expand clean energy infrastructure and promote energy efficiency as tools for effectively meeting the goals of the U.S. Climate Action Plan.

“Tackling climate change is a huge opportunity to jumpstart our economy by investing in a clean-energy future,” said Anne Woiwode, Michigan Chapter Director of the Sierra Club. “That means more, good jobs and stronger, healthier communities. The path forward requires urgent action and bold investment, starting today.”

The Repair America campaign is the BlueGreen Alliance’s nationwide effort to educate and mobilize union members and environmentalists around modernizing and upgrading our nation’s most basic systems—systems that we rely on every day—to respond to the threat of climate change, protect our communities, and create and maintain good jobs across the country.

“Communities cannot and should not have to shoulder the burden of severe weather alone,” said Mike Williams, Vice President for Development and Corporate Initiatives, BlueGreen Alliance. “Congress has dropped the ball on addressing the larger issues related to shortfalls in infrastructure funding that has brought us to this point. It’s up to us to help change that.”