OBama: Use Old Mills for 21st Century Energy

Photo: Obama talks with USWA workers at former closed mill in Bucks County now making wind turbines

Steel Workers, Allies
Launch Campaign
For ‘Green Jobs’

By Press Associates

Sept. 12, 2008-Pittsburgh – Add “green jobs” to all the other campaigns traversing the country this fall, thanks to the Steel Workers, plus environmental groups.

The campaign, in six states – Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, New York, Missouri, Tennessee, and Minnesota – is based on a Sept. 9 report showing $100 billion invested in green technology has the potential to create 2 million new jobs in the next two years, advocates said. That’s four times as many jobs as the same dollars would create in the oil industry, it adds.

Green Recovery: A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy, by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, says that of the new jobs, 800,000 would be in construction and the rest would be in the to-be-built factories turning out “green” goods, such as hybrid auto motors, wind turbines and solar paneling that converts sunlight into electricity.

The $100 billion would be split: $50 billion for tax credits to aid business and homeowners to retrofit buildings, plus investing in renewable-energy systems, and $46 billion in direct government spending on retrofitting public buildings, expanding mass transit, freight rail and smart electrical-grid systems, and investing in renewable energy. The rest would be federal loan guarantees underwriting private credit for retrofits and renewable energy investment.

The green jobs would also help combat global warming. “The climate crisis is on a global scale,” USWA President Leo Gerard said in a telephone press conference unveiling the report and discussing the campaign. And he said there would be positive spin-offs in other industries. Many of the construction jobs would re-employ now-jobless workers – due to the housing industry slump – “doing pretty much what they have been doing anyway,” he pointed out.

“If you retrofit public and private buildings, for example” – one recommendation of the report – “the materials will come from glass factories and building trades factories. People can make what they already make, but make it for green economy.”

Another spin-off, he pointed out, would be rising sales in industries now reeling from the recession, high gas prices, or both. Gerard said tire company officials told him driving is down, so purchases of tires are down. USW includes rubber and tire workers.

Increased auto sales, when hybrids and electric cars are produced, would reverse that.

And he cited Gamesa, a Spanish-owned windmill turbine firm, as an example of use of tax credits to create “green jobs.” That former steel mill in Western Pennsylvania employs 1,000 people. It came there after the state offered tax credits for “green job” firms, Gerard noted. The Steel Workers have organized the Gamesa workers.

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