The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Eric Young, 202-289-2373

Labor Unions, Environmental Organizations Urge Passage of Climate Change Legislation in 2009

Blue Green Alliance Releases Principles for Cap-and-Trade Legislation Necessary to Put Americans Back to Work


Four labor unions and two environmental organizations today
announced their support for comprehensive cap-and-trade climate change
legislation in 2009. The Blue Green Alliance, which includes the
Natural Resources Defense Council, said this legislation is an
effective way to rapidly put millions of Americans back to work
building a clean energy economy and to reduce global warming emissions
to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

You can read the policy statement online at

agreement is one more sign of the growing consensus around the urgency
of action on climate change," said Frances Beinecke, President of the
Natural Resources Defense Council. "Environmentalists and labor groups
are working together, standing side-by-side, and presenting a path
forward for strong action on global warming that will repower our
economy and protect our planet's future."

The Blue Green
Alliance supports a reduction of U.S. emissions by at least 80 percent
from 1990 levels by 2050, and supports a renewed U.S. effort to forge a
global treaty to reduce worldwide emissions by 50 percent by that same
date. To meet these goals, domestic climate change legislation should
reduce U.S. emissions significantly below 2005 levels by 2020, with
individual partners advocating targets ranging from 14 to 25 percent.

believe that climate change legislation is a critical step to
jumpstarting the U.S. economy," said Leo Gerard, International
President of the United Steelworkers. "And we agree that the U.S. must
significantly reduce our emissions, something we can accomplish by
retaining and creating millions of family-sustaining green jobs in the
clean energy economy."

The labor-environmental
partnership also said climate change legislation must address several
critical issues. Job loss from international competition can be avoided
with allowance allocations to energy-intensive industries and
border-adjustment mechanisms. Rising energy costs to low- and
moderate-income Americans and adversely-impacted regions can be offset
with rebates or tax credits. The Alliance also supports complementary
regulation, including standards for renewable energy, energy efficiency
resources and fuel and appliance efficiency.

addition, climate change legislation should include investments in a
wide range of technologies - including carbon, capture and
sequestration technology - and federal financing for the transition to
a clean energy economy.

"Meeting the challenge to tackle
climate change will allow us to build a clean energy economy right here
in the United States - making the parts for wind and solar power and
fuel efficient vehicles are just some examples," said Jim Clark,
President of IUE-CWA, the Industrial Division of the Communications
Workers of America. "The economic and climate crises afford us an
opportunity to create good, middle-class green jobs."

can choose a new direction for our country - making a clean energy
economy the foundation for putting people back to work building
America," said Terence M. O'Sullivan, General President of the
Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA). "We have the
workers and the skills, and now we need action to build on the green
programs of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act."

consensus reached by the Blue Green Alliance partners also said that
allowances should be auctioned or used for public purposes and that the
legislation should link its solutions to a broad agenda for economic
opportunities that engages high-unemployment communities first and
funds training and transition needs.

"We have a unique
opportunity to be part of the solution and to improve the lives of
working people and their families for generations to come," said Gerry
Hudson, International Executive Vice President of SEIU. "It is our duty
to ensure that legislation develops a cap-and-trade system that
connects environmental justice to economic justice in a way that
supports communities across America and creates good, green jobs."

BGA partners said that climate change legislation should help to fund a
clean energy economic development model for developing and emerging
economies and fund adaptation measures that provide solutions to those
immediately impacted by global warming both domestically and

"We share the common goal that climate
change legislation is necessary to confront our greatest economic and
environmental challenges," said Carl Pope, Executive Director of the
Sierra Club. "Standing together to advocate legislation that
aggressively reduces U.S. emissions while creating good jobs is
essential to building a broad consensus in this country around a clean
energy economy."

"The significance of this statement
cannot be overstated," said David Foster, Executive Director of the
Blue Green Alliance. "For the first time, a substantial number of
unions representing workers across a broad section of the American
economy have endorsed the principle that the way out of our current
economic turmoil is through major investments in solving global
warming. The labor and environmental movements have truly embraced a
common vision for the future."

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