The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Brendan Smith

Workers Need Our Environment Protected -- Act Now!

A statement from the Labor Network for Sustainability


Organized labor has long recognized the crucial role of a healthy environment for protecting both workers' health and workers' jobs. Not only does environmental regulation protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the climate we depend on for our very existence, many studies have shown that it also protects and expands employment. For these reasons organized labor has fought for legislation that protects our environment since the days of the 1963 Clean Air Act and the 1972 Clean Water Act.

Right now there is a new threat to environmental protection. A recently leaked draft bill text -- bearing the watermark of the American Petroleum Institute -- would override the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by accelerating permitting review and timelines for energy development projects. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are now planning to attach these requirements to a "must-pass" federal budget resolution.

The deal would likely undermine the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the fundamental law protecting the US environment, which was passed almost unanimously by Congress half-a-century ago. It is expected to greatly shorten the time available to consider whether projects should be given permits for fossil fuel infrastructure -- meaning that our local communities simply won't have time to make effective arguments to pipelines, wells, and other projects that may damage their environment forever. And it would likely override any local or community demands for sufficient environmental analysis and adequate protections from environmental harm that have impeded fossil fuel projects like the Mountain Valley Pipeline through the center of Appalachia, promising devastation for those who have already suffered the destruction of strip mining and mountaintop removal mining.

A recent letter on behalf of 653 frontline communities and environmental and other organizations to the Senate and House Democratic leadership calls for them to "unequivocally reject any effort to promote fossil fuels, advance unproven technologies, and weaken our core environmental laws" and to "stand with the communities who continue to bear the brunt of harm from fossil fuels and act to prevent wholesale climate disaster."

LNS calls on unions and other labor organizations to stand with the frontline environmental justice communities whose wellbeing and very existence is threatened by this proposal.

LNS's new Executive Director Larry Williams stated:

"We call on unions and other labor organizations to stand with their own members who require protection from rapacious corporations who are eager to take advantage of this proposal in order to destroy the communities of which workers are part."

Labor Network for Sustainability is dedicated to engaging trade unions, workers and our allies to support economic, social, and environmental sustainability. LNS provides a community for those in the labor and sustainability movements and their allies who care about economic justice, ecology, and equality. Our members are helping labor become a force for advancing worker interests - while advancing the broader social good.