State-Based Policies To Build A Cleaner, Safer, More Equitable Economy – A Policy Toolkit

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Right now, in legislative chambers across the country, lawmakers are making decisions every day about how our nation will address the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated economic and social inequities in the U.S. At the same time, decisionmakers are putting forward policies to fight climate change—from clean energy standards to energy efficiency investments to aiding workers and communities impacted by shifts in their state’s energy mix—that are important to creating a healthier, more resilient future.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has determined that fighting climate change will “require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,” but also that those changes “could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society.”16 We know that efforts to address climate change can create jobs, because they already do.

In 2018, nearly 3.3 million American workers were employed in energy efficiency, solar, wind, advanced and electric vehicles, and other segments of the clean economy. However, not enough of the new jobs that have been created or promised in the clean economy are the kind of high-quality, family-sustaining jobs that too many Americans are in desperate need of right now.

Only 4% of jobs in the solar PV industry, a sector that includes jobs in the manufacture, distribution, installation, and maintenance of solar PV power generation, are unionized jobs. This disconnect—between the potential job opportunities of a clean energy economy and the actual realities of those jobs—have made many labor interests reluctant to embrace clean energy. Unions affected by the decline of coal-fired power, for instance, have “yet to see evidence that the clean energy industry will replace the number and quality of jobs associated with utility-owned power plants.” It is imperative that smart policies be enacted to ensure that the jobs being created are good, union jobs.

To that end, the following toolkit provides information on a series of policies and measures, including Project Labor Agreements (PLAs), Prevailing Wage and Worker Benefits, Local Hire and Targeted Hire measures, and Organizing Rights and Negative Determination that can be used to ensure the creation of good, union jobs in the clean economy.

Crafting State Policy That Protects Workers From Infectious Diseases – A Policy Toolkit

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This toolkit highlights policy response in four key areas: enacting state-level workplace health and safety standards to protect workers from being infected by COVID-19; protecting workers from retaliation if they refuse unsafe work or report dangerous conditions; ensuring that affected workers are financially protected through worker’s compensation and unemployment insurance; and collecting actionable information about the pandemic from workplaces.

The realities of the coronavirus pandemic are stark, and many workers remain vulnerable to this disease, especially workers of color. Workers of color have seen disproportionately higher rates of illness and death related to COVID-19, and recent information demonstrates that Black and Latinx workers are far more likely to report losing their jobs because of the Covid pandemic.

In some cities, black residents account for about 25% of the population, but 70% of the deaths from COVID-19. This tragic pandemic has occurred at a time of unprecedented administrative failures at the federal level. The Trump administration’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal agency charged with protecting American workers from unsafe workplaces, has declined to issue an emergency health and safety standard to protect workers from contracting COVID-19. Early on in the pandemic, OSHA even issued official guidance stating that it would not respond to most Covid-related safety complaints from workers, ensuring that OSHA would not intervene to make workplaces safer.

Many states have now begun the process of reopening businesses after the shutdowns of March-May 2020. But these reopening efforts have often been driven by public pressure, not by epidemiological data. As a result, reopening without having protections in place to protect workers from infection will force workers to choose between their job and their health. States can act now to ensure that reopening efforts do not place workers at increased risk.Some states are already seeing increased rates and there is a very real risk to see more increases in the fall, when a second wave of infections becomes likely, and at a time when precautions are rapidly waning. State policymakers must take action now to protect workers from the virus itself, and from the financial difficulties that come with job loss or reduced hours. This toolkit is intended to represent some of the policy responses that can help workers affected by the coronavirus, using examples drawn from state

The Impacts of Fuel Economy and Vehicle GHG Standards on Innovation, Investment, American Manufacturing, and Jobs

The BlueGreen Alliance produced a detailed analysis of the impacts the soon-to-be finalized proposal from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to rollback clean car standards will have on domestic innovation, technology deployment, manufacturing, and jobs. Released in August 2019, Tech@Risk provided a detailed snapshot of today’s vehicle technology manufacturing jobs, and estimated the impact on future jobs and job growth in the industry if standards are weakened. The report identified significant negative impacts from the EPA’s proposed rule. Specifically the report found:

  • At least 89,000 future jobs could be lost or foregone as a result of the rollback.
  • The threat appears particularly acute for those that make the most advanced technologies and materials, but a rollback threatens jobs and investment across the industry.
  • Deeply weakening the standards significantly slows adoption of advanced technologies in almost every vehicle subsystem and cuts demand for products made by hundreds of manufacturers and hundreds of thousands of workers all across the country

The BlueGreen Alliance’s analysis is consistent with data from the agencies themselves in their Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that found rolling back standards would cut industry investment in vehicle components and technology by around $30 billion per year and result in 50,000-60,000 fewer manufacturing jobs in the industry.

Additional BlueGreen Alliance research explored the impact of strong clean vehicle standards on investment by automakers in the United States since 2008. Driving Investment: How Fuel Efficiency is Rebuilding American Manufacturing tracked investment in the nation’s automotive plants over the past decade as automakers implemented current fuel economy standards. The report illustrated how standards drive enhanced manufacturing activity, and showed how what are often described as the “costs” of compliance with clean vehicle standards represent a multi-billion dollar reinvestment in American manufacturing and jobs nationwide. Specifically the report found:

  • A total of $76 billion in new and promised investment in the nation’s automotive plants since 2008.
  • As of 2018, U.S. automakers had invested $64 billion in facilities across the country, completing 258 investments at 100 factories, with an additional $12 billion in investments in 37 facilities underway or promised. 

While some of that $76 billion represents business-as-usual investment, a significant portion is new, added, or enhanced investment in the innovative products and manufacturing processes developed to meet the nation’s commonsense fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards. View a visualization of those investments here

Driving Investment builds on a May 2017 report, Supplying Ingenuity II: U.S. Suppliers of Key Clean Fuel-Efficient Vehicle Technologies, from the BlueGreen Alliance and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which detailed the breadth of U.S. manufacturing engagement in building cleaner cars. The report illustrated how, when the auto industry emerged from the last recession, strong standards—together with policies that encouraged retooling factories to build a new generation of efficient cars, SUVs, and trucks in the United States—helped rebuild a stronger industry, secure jobs, and secure a return on taxpayer investments. The report found:

  • Following the last recession the auto industry brought back jobs and saw a dramatic return to profitability and record sales, while also successfully implementing the current national fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards across all types and sizes of vehicles.
  • More than 288,000 workers in 1,200 factories and engineering facilities in 48 states are building the components, materials, and technology needed to make today’s vehicles more fuel efficient than ever.
  • Greatly weakening the standards risks shipping investment in the next generation of technology overseas and puts manufacturing and jobs in the industry in danger.

You can explore automotive manufacturing in America by component and technology using our interactive map, and see the economic reach of enhanced investment in a new generation of cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Why People Care About Climate Change

01302013 reason.wordsCLast week, we asked “What Is Your Reason For Caring About Climate Change,” and the answers came in loud and clear.

Download the word cloud with the most common answers.


Advocacy Day: Invest in a Prosperous and Healthy America

Green jobs advocates urged lawmakers to create clean energy jobs through innovative financing for clean energy, igniting manufacturing and deployment, making homes, businesses and industries more efficient and ensuring a skilled, 21st century workforce. They also urged the development of a 21st century transportation infrastructure with passage of a comprehensive transportation reauthorization bill, empowering ports to create good green jobs, and ensuring American leadership in the next generation of vehicles. Finally, the group urged representatives to protect the health and safety of workers by opposing roll-backs of the Clean Air Act, reforming our laws on toxics, and updating U.S. health and safety laws.