The following post was contributed by my good friend Frank Houston. Frank is the Michigan Regional Program Manager of the BlueGreen Alliance, a group that encompasses a variety of progressive values: labor, environmental, and political action. For this reason, it’s a group that I’m happy to share this platform with.
The gains made in federal environmental policy under the Obama administration are under serious threat under the Trump administration. Few people embody the precise opposite of our values when it comes to our role as environmental stewards and leaders than EPA Director Scott Pruitt. As we move forward, groups like the BlueGreen Alliance will help us to fight back and to do so effectively and in coalition with with partners who don’t always find themselves working together.
Innovation Moves in One Direction: Forward
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administration Scott Pruitt has made a name for himself by delaying or eliminating polices that protect public health and the environment – attempting to roll back years of progress and policy in a matter of months.
Pruitt’s actions and directives are even more confounding when considering the rapid advancements of technology that impact so many facets of our economy. From energy and infrastructure to the next generation of advanced vehicles and manufacturing, states like Michigan and countries around the world are moving toward a very different future than the policies Pruitt is pushing. History has taught us that innovation moves in one direction – forward.
With this backdrop, perhaps now more than ever it is important that activists, labor unions, environmental organizations, and community groups come together with the common purpose of solving today’s environmental challenges. Not just solving them, in fact, but solving them in ways that create and maintain quality jobs and build a stronger, fairer economy.
The BlueGreen Alliance (BGA) unites America’s largest labor unions and its most influential environmental organizations to do just that.
Right now, BGA’s work in Michigan is focused on making sure we sustain the jobs we currently have and continue to grow new ones building cars, SUVs, and trucks that are the best and most fuel efficient in the world. Under today’s strong long-term fuel economy standards automakers have made $23 billion in investments in 41 facilities in Michigan alone – much of it added investment in technology and plant upgrades to meet these commonsense standards. Suppliers to the vehicle manufacturers have made still more.
This investment represents jobs in communities around the state. Almost 70,000 workers in Michigan are building technology or materials that are needed specifically to make cars and trucks more fuel-efficient. We need to keep this upward trajectory of standards, jobs, and American manufacturing going. At BGA, we’ve put together a searchable database and visualization of those jobs, which you can see HERE.
To keep Michigan’s innovation engine running, we also need to grow our clean energy and energy efficiency options and push for investment in infrastructure that both creates good jobs and helps our communities be ready for the extreme weather that climate change is bringing. These initiatives must also ensure our communities and our workplaces become safer and healthier.
I’m really excited to be leading BlueGreen Alliance’s work here in Michigan at such an important time. I look forward to working with you on seizing this tremendous opportunity to create and sustain quality jobs that are good for our economy and environment.