Blue-Green Alliance demands congressional action on clean energy jobs

A coalition of labor unions and environmental organizations announced the launch of a new campaign this week to overcome Republican roadblocks in the Senate to passing climate change and clean energy jobs legislation.

Beginning this week and extending through early September, the group is initiating a nationwide bus tour called “The Job’s Not Done Tour.” The tour will visit 17 states with 30 stops from California, Nevada, Missouri, Arkansas, Michigan all the way to Richmond, Virginia. Clean energy sector workers will participate in the tour.

Blue-Green Alliance Executive Director David Foster told reporters on a press conference call the tour will work to highlight the relationship between the ongoing economic crisis and the need to pass climate change and clean energy jobs legislation.

“Our nation has a 30 million jobs deficit today that is growing by 100,000 to 200,000 per month,” Foster explained, citing government jobs data that estimates 15 million unemployed, 8 million underemployed, and 6 million “discouraged” workers.

Comprehensive clean energy jobs legislation is the simple solution to this problem, Foster added. “That kind of bold action will be the bold step to put Americans back to work.”

Communication Workers of America President Larry Cohen linked the growing significance of clean energy jobs in the high-tech sector to the need for serious investments to build that sector to create new jobs and modernize the economy. “We need action now,” he indicated.

Cohen also slammed Republican obstructionism in the Senate. He noted that arcane Senate rules have allowed the small Republican minority to hold hundreds of pieces of legislation hostage and charged that such procedures are fundamentally undemocratic. “We’re all building toward the kind of coalition that can say to the Senate: ‘Enough’s enough. It’s time you join with the mainstream democracies around the world.'”

Republican obstructionism in the Senate has blocked economic recovery and modernization, added Mike Langford, president of the Utility Workers Union of America. “By not having action, their just stalling millions of jobs.”

To this, Sierra Club Chair Carl Pope pointed out why the Republicans have taken such a hard line in Congress. “The Republican leadership of the U.S. Senate wants to send America a message of failure,” he said. “The Republican leadership wants Americans to think this country is failing and they think that will help them in the November elections.

Wesley Warren, director of programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council, noted that Obama administration’s efforts to regulate climate change emissions is a good step but comprehensive legislation is needed to control pollution and invest in renewable energy, a modernized energy grid, and advanced, clean transportation.

“What we really need,” he explained, “is for Congress to establish a national system for the 21st century that will really provide the incentives and certainty that investors need to move us forward down this path that’ll create jobs, reduce our dependence on oil, therefore enhance our national security, and really reduce pollution in a way that will help us to address the threat of climate change.”

Efforts to pass comprehensive climate legislation fell apart this summer after several Republicans who had previously supported climate change legislation chose to join a Republican filibuster against the bill.

The Blue-Green Alliance called for changing Senate rules in order to give climate change legislation an up-or-down vote in the next session of Congress.

Photo: Blue Green Alliance Copyright © 2010



Joel Wendland-Liu
Joel Wendland-Liu

Joel Wendland-Liu teaches courses on diversity, intercultural competence, migration, and civil rights at Grand Valley State University in West Michigan. He is the author of The Collectivity of Life: Spaces of Social Mobility and the Individualism Myth, and a former editor of Political Affairs.