Report Shows Investments in America’s Freight Rail Network Would Create Thousands of Green Jobs

The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (UE) were on hand to discuss a new report from the BlueGreen Alliance and Economic Policy Institute on the job-creating possibilities of expanding America's rail network.

June 15, 2010

Report Shows Investments in America’s Freight Rail Network Would Create Thousands of Green Jobs

HARRISBURG, PA- Investments in America’s freight rail system would create thousands of green jobs in Pennsylvania, improve the country’s infrastructure, reduce dependence on foreign oil and lower carbon emissions, according to a report released by the BlueGreen Alliance and the Economic Policy Institute. A report event coincided with lobbying efforts of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) on rail. UE leaders and members were present and are distributing the Full Speed Ahead: Creating Green Jobs Through Freight Rail Expansion report to all State House and Senate members during their visits.

Read the report.

The report 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.

“Freight rail can create good jobs here in Pennsylvania while also helping to reduce dependence on foreign oil and carbon emissions,” said John Hovis, the National President of UE.  “By adopting smart policies nationally, like a tax credit for rail capital investments to spur investment, we can create good jobs here in Pennsylvania.”

In addition to reducing carbon emissions and lessening the dependence on foreign oil, 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 in the same time frame.

“Rail has helped the United States become the world’s leading economic power,” said Greg Bowers, President, USW Local Union 1688. “We must invest in freight rail infrastructure to continue to move goods in the most efficient way possible and keep our competitive edge globally. Investment of freight rail will create thousands of green jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

Another finding is that freight rail is much more efficient than other forms of transportation and has continued 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 jobs are green jobs, and are crucial to reducing carbon and saving energy in the transportation sector,” said Kate Zaidan, Sustainable Transportation Coordinator, Clean Air Council.  “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 helping to reduce our dependence on oil.”

In addition to providing numbers and facts, the report makes a series of policy recommendations for lawmakers, including tax credits for rail capital investments, “Buy American” provisions and ensuring that the jobs created are not outsourced.

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The BlueGreen Alliance is a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations dedicated to expanding the number and quality of jobs in the clean energy economy. Launched by the United Steelworkers and Sierra Club in 2006, the BlueGreen Alliance now includes the Communications Workers of America, Natural Resources Defense Council, Laborers’ International Union of North America, Service Employees International Union, Utility Workers Union of America, American Federation of Teachers, Amalgamated Transit Union, and the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association.