Last week, the BlueGreen Alliance announced the launch of its “Repair America” campaign designed to push action on repairing crucial national infrastructure across the country and create thousands of valuable jobs in the process. The BlueGreen Alliance is a partnership of labor and environmental groups working to expand the number of jobs in the renewable energy sector. Over 100 people attended the kick-off event in Warren, Michigan.
The following guest post is from Sue Browne, the Regional Program Manager for the BlueGreen Alliance, which discusses the importance of the “Repair America” campaign.
Reconnecting the Mitten is a Key Opportunity
Progress on funding Michigan’s roads is currently at a standstill but the state’s roads continue to deteriorate according to recent headlines. A recent report by the American Society of Civil Engineers showed 38 percent of Michigan’s roads are in poor or mediocre condition. Our roads, however, aren’t the only infrastructure to suffer from underfunding and neglect. Our crumbling bridges, electric, water, wastewater and transit systems demand that we make significant and long-term investments and we can create jobs and protect communities along the way.
Recently, a Washington State a bridge collapsed, injuring three people. In Washington, D.C., a sinkhole has closed a major intersection in the city and untold traffic delay. And, here in Michigan, flooding resulted in the governor declaring a state of emergency for 19 counties. The need to fix our infrastructure knows no boundaries — state or otherwise.
If not one singular event — then all of these events combined — should spur people into action to address this widespread problem.
Beyond causing property damage, lost profits for businesses and a general inconvenience, severe weather has an effect on public health. April’s record rainfall here in Michigan also caused billions of gallons in sewage overflows to contaminate local rivers.
Mike Langford of the Utility Workers Union of America addresses event attendees, photo by Tom Conway | BlueGreen Alliance
While putting off vitally important fixes threatens to cause more damage, addressing the weaknesses in our wastewater, roads, bridges and more can protect communities and the environment, and keep and produce good jobs all at the same time. By doing that, we’ll build a prosperous future for America.
Back to our roads as an example of the need for better funding, even compared to other states Michigan spends less on transportation infrastructure than nearby states spend. Michigan spends $174 per person, while Ohio spends $235, Wisconsin $231 and Minnesota $315.
Fixing all of this is a challenge for Michigan and the whole country, but by investing now in our utility, energy and transportation infrastructure, including waste water management, transmission, and transit infrastructure, we can cut down on inefficiencies, create good jobs for working people, reduce carbon emissions and hopefully prevent the worst consequences of climate change.
Henry Kaiser, the engineer, businessman, and entrepreneur who designed and built the Hoover Dam, once said, “Problems are just opportunities in work clothes.” That’s what the repairing our outdated water, transportation, electricity, and communication systems is all about.
All of this will reduce pollution, create good jobs for workers and keep our communities safe from the impacts of climate change. It is time to Repair America to protect workers, the environment and communities, produce good jobs, and ensure that our economy and environment prosper.
Read more about the “Repair America” project HERE.
NOTE: Gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer was, until recently, the national co-Chair of the BlueGreen Alliance’s Jobs 21! initiative. You can read my interview with him about that HERE.