Action Needed Now to Create Jobs, Protect Environment

After President Obama outlined his energy policy in Nevada, labor and environmental leaders of the BlueGreen Alliance called on Congress to get moving on important clean energy and transportation initiatives to create jobs and protect the environment.

January 26, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 26, 2012) After President Obama outlined his energy agenda in Las Vegas today, and following his State of the Union address Tuesday focused on efforts to create an American economy “built to last,” labor and environmental leaders from the BlueGreen Alliance called on Congress to take immediate action to create 21st century jobs. Leaders from the United Steelworkers, Sierra Club, United Auto Workers, Natural Resources Defense Council, Utility Workers and the BlueGreen Alliance said that Congress must take action now to create jobs and position the United States to compete in the global economy.

“Congress sat on their hands and let important manufacturing policies expire, policies that are proven job creators, like the 48C tax credit and the Production Tax Credit program,” said Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers, a co-founder of the BlueGreen Alliance. “There are 13 million people stuck without work, and many more waiting for action to create good, American jobs. Congress needs to get off their hands and do the job they were sent there to do.”

The BlueGreen Alliance and its partners specifically singled out long-term reauthorization of the Surface Transportation Act. This legislation will help create and sustain millions of jobs throughout the economy while modernizing our roads, highways and transit systems to be more efficient. In addition, the group advocates extending the Production Tax Credit; renewing the 48C Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit and Treasury’s 1603 grant program; and passing President Obama’s plan to renovate and modernize 35,000 American public schools to make them more energy efficient.

“The agenda we’re advocating is good for our economy and it’s good for our health and environment,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “Instead of spending the next year attacking clean air and water protections, Congress should take action on policies and real solutions to create good jobs and spur America’s clean energy economy.”

In his State of the Union address, President Obama outlined an economy “built to last – an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values,” and reiterated his commitment to creating clean energy jobs, revitalizing American manufacturing, and infrastructure, broadband and smart grid investments. BlueGreen Alliance leaders emphasized the Obama administration’s proposed fuel efficiency standards and forthcoming regulations on greenhouse gas emissions that will create jobs and drive economic growth.

“Already, the efforts to save the auto industry, the President’s ‘We Can’t Wait’ agenda, and proposed 54.5-mpg fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks that will create good jobs are moving America forward despite the gridlock in Congress,” said UAW President Bob King. “But, it’s time Congress did their fair share of the work and passed these policies to get Americans working again.”

“We know that environmental protection is inextricably linked to building a more sustainable economy. And soon-to-be-proposed limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants will help us get there,” said Peter Lehner, executive director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Economic growth and job creation can be achieved in a way that protects our environment for our children and grandchildren.”

“The President was right on the mark: we need to rebuild America, including updating our inefficient power grid,” said Utility Workers Union of America National President D. Michael Langford. “We need to create jobs, we need to create skilled workers, and we need to invest in our country again.”

“It is incumbent on Congress now to keep the momentum going on the creation of good jobs in the industries that are driving the 21st century economy,” said David Foster. “We need to create jobs, we need to remain the world leader in the global economy, and we need to win the competition for good clean energy jobs.”