"The debate about whether or not climate change is real has gone on for far too long," said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. "It fails to adequately address both environmental and economic consequences.
"We have witnessed devastating super-storms and hurricanes that have wreaked havoc on communities across the country. The plan President Obama outlined today includes many positive steps to help our nation begin a meaningful effort to address climate change, while creating and maintaining hundreds of thousands of family-sustaining jobs in the domestic manufacturing, construction and service sectors.
"Our union is very pleased that the President's plan includes a path to upgrading our nation's outdated pipeline, water and electricity systems. The American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave America's infrastructure a grade of D+ and called for an investment of $3.6 trillion to upgrade these systems by 2020. The U.S. grid infrastructure was not designed to withstand strong winds and storm surges, and roughly $2 trillion in investments is needed to make improvements by 2030 for it to function efficiently.
"To ensure that we rebuild the American manufacturing sector as we rebuild our nation's infrastructure, it is also necessary that where public funds are used to upgrade or rebuild public infrastructure projects, strong domestic procurement provisions be included to ensure that all the component parts used in our grid, pipeline and waters systems are made right here in America.
"As the largest industrial union in North America, we are encouraged that the President's plan also includes measures to improve industrial energy efficiency and expand renewable energy development and deployment. Our members work in industrial facilities across the country where efficiency improvements will ensure that these facilities are globally competitive and economically sustainable. Industrial facilities and its workers can and must play a role in the clean energy economy.
"Likewise, as more investments are made in home-grown clean energy technologies like wind, solar and biomass, it is essential that home-grown industries play a vital role in providing the components needed for these technologies. Our Union is committed to making sure that the industries of today will also be the industries of tomorrow.
"America's workers are a key stakeholder in any clean energy plan. To ensure that the President's plan achieves its goal of reducing our nation's greenhouse gases from key sources, upgrading our nation's infrastructure, expanding clean energy technologies and creating and maintaining jobs, it is essential that the voices and concerns of America's workers are heard on all aspects of this plan. We look forward to working with President Obama and his Administration on the details of the plan as they move forward."
The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations. For more information go to: www.usw.org.