Ohio Event Highlights Job Creation Benefits of Freight Rail Investment

Congressman John Boccieri joined labor and environmental leaders to discuss a new report showing that expanding America's rail network can create jobs while more efficiently moving goods.

July 6, 2010

The BlueGreen Alliance, Congressman John Boccieri, Mayor of Alliance Toni Middleton, and several other rail supports held an event in Alliance, Ohio to highlight the Full Speed Ahead: Creating Green Jobs Through Freight Rail Expansion report.

The press release and pictures from the event are below:

Full Speed Ahead: Report Shows How Investments in Freight Rail Can Create Green Jobs in Ohio

Congressman Boccieri, Local Officials, Members of the Labor and Environmental Communities Highlight Report and Call for Action on Policies to Promote Freight Rail

Alliance, OH – Investments in America’s freight rail system could create thousands of green jobs, improve the country’s infrastructure and reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, according to a report released by the BlueGreen Alliance and the Economic Policy Institute. Congressman John Boccieri (D – Alliance) and local elected officials joined members of the United Steelworkers (USW), the Ohio Sierra Club, and Growth Options for the 21st Century (Go21) to highlight the significance of this report in Northeast Ohio.

The report, Full Speed Ahead: Creating Green Jobs Through Freight Rail Expansion, shows that the expansion of freight rail in the U.S. can create approximately 7,800 green jobs for every $1 billion of capital invested and serves as a guide for policy makers on sustaining and expanding the domestic freight rail network. If this is expanded to include re-spending by freight rail and supporting industry employees, between 12,300 and 26,600 American jobs would be created or sustained per $1 billion invested.

“It’s a simple choice: Do we spend $1 billion a day buying oil from countries that wish to do us harm or do we take the $1 billion and reinvest it in an energy-efficient freight rail system which has proven can create as many as 26,000 jobs nationwide,” said Congressman John Boccieri. “Freight rail not only connects our manufacturers with global markets, it makes the products railroads need. In fact, railroad vendors employ 26,000 Ohioans.”

Boccieri continued, “The Freight Rail Capacity Expansion Act will mean a significant investment in energy-efficient transportation infrastructure and thousands of jobs. I want to make sure that as many of those jobs as possible are located right here in Northeast Ohio.”

In addition to lessening our dependence on foreign oil and creating greater energy efficiency among our nation’s transportation infrastructure, an investment in U.S. freight rail will keep the country economically viable in changing times. America is expected to invest $150 billion in our infrastructure over the next decade, however, the European Union has planned for $300 billion and China has budgeted $200 billion over the same time frame.

“Rail has played a pivotal role in America’s economic success and investments in rail will help ensure we remain competitive in this global economy,” said Joe Holcomb, a USW Staff Representative and former president of USW Local 2211 at Alliance Castings Company. “Freight rail is a very efficient way of moving goods, and increased investment in freight rail will create thousands of green jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

The press conference was held in front of Alliance Castings, an area business that would greatly benefit from a renewed focus on freight rail investment. Just a few years ago, the closed factory was reopened to make components for rail cars and it eventually employed 700 workers. Though the recession has lead to a temporary closing of Alliance Castings, it is expected that demand for the components manufactured at the plant will return as rail volumes increase.

“Alliance has a proud tradition of being a railroad town and we are hopeful these workers will return to work soon,” said Alliance Mayor Toni Middleton. “We can’t just wait for it to happen, though. We have to take action and make strategic investments to get this factory back up and running.”

One key finding of the Full Speed Ahead report is that freight rail is much more efficient than other forms of transportation and continues to innovate to become more efficient. One example in the report shows how TTX Company has innovated and prevented more than 2.5 billion empty miles per year and saved more than 167 million gallons of fuel annually.

“Freight rail and passenger rail jobs are green jobs, and are crucial to reducing carbon and saving energy in the transportation sector,” said Jen Miller, the Conservation Program Coordinator at the Sierra Club Ohio Chapter. “Over the past three decades, the industry has nearly doubled the amount of goods it has shipped without increasing fuel consumption, creating a fraction of the pollution of other modes of transportation. This report shows that expanding freight rail will meet our goals of creating good jobs while reducing pollution and our dependence on oil.”

In addition to job creation and pollution reduction statistics, the report makes a series of policy recommendations for lawmakers, including tax credits for rail capital investments, and “Buy American” provisions to ensure that the jobs created are not outsourced.

-30-