Indiana

Greenwire: Midwest law center can compromise but doesn’t fear a fight

Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E reporter
Published: Friday, February 27, 2015

Ask Chicago environmentalists who’s the Windy City’s best lawyer, and they’re likely to name Howard Learner.

Learner has built his Environmental Law and Policy Center into a Midwest powerhouse over the last 20 years on transportation and clean energy issues, scoring victories in courtrooms and state legislatures along the way.

His shop eschews the national spotlight for a hyper-regional focus that he says is part of the group’s DNA.

“First of all, we are Midwesterners,” he said. “The Midwest is probably the most important region in the most important country in the world.”

ELPC is among a few regional environmental law centers that operate in the gap between national Goliaths like the Natural Resources Defense Council and small grass-roots organizations. The center takes on major litigation — fighting lawsuits brought by former Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO Aubrey McClendon, arguing for solar and wind energy in state Supreme Courts, and battling Great Lakes pollution. Moreover, it has developed a lobbying operation that pressures government officials — from U.S. senators to mayors — to support environmentally progressive policies.

Learner prides himself on leading a “grass-tops” organization, meaning it seeks to unite leaders from often-opposing camps — such as unions and local chambers of commerce — to push for common goals.

Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but ELPC is now thriving, thanks largely to Learner’s grasp of regional politics.

“He has steered clear of the weird political fights,” said J. Paul Forrester, an energy and agricultural specialist at Mayer Brown in Chicago. “He has a lot of political acumen. I give him a lot of credit for that. That’s helped him avoid ugly confrontation.”

Howard Learner launched the Environmental Law and Policy Center 20 years ago.
Howard Learner launched the Environmental Law and Policy Center 20 years ago.

Learner, 59, lives a mile-and-a-half from where he was born in Chicago. The son of a University of Wisconsin football player, he’s well over 6 feet tall and bearded. He cuts an imposing presence that he establishes right away with a firm handshake.

Growing up as an outdoorsman, Learner biked across Wisconsin several times and always had a backpack ready for weekend trips. He attended the University of Michigan and remains a devoted fan of the Wolverine football team, then headed to Harvard Law School.

He returned to Chicago with his law degree and worked for a public interest law firm that specialized in housing cases. Learner launched the group’s environmental practice and specialized in pro bono work.

In 1991, seven major foundations pooled funds and asked several local lawyers for proposals for a regional-based legal center to address environmental programs in the Midwest. Such a group didn’t exist, and, as Learner recalled, there were ample reasons the region needed one.

The Great Lakes contain nearly a fifth of the world’s freshwater supply and provide drinking water to more than 40 million people. At the time, electricity utilities were becoming more regionally focused, building power lines across state borders. The Midwest was also home to some of the dirtiest coal-fired power plants. Three-quarters of the pollution in the Great Lakes was coming from the energy and transportation sectors.

The region also served as the nexus of multiple types of transportation; interstate highways crisscross the area, as do major railways. And Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport serves as a hub of air travel in the region.

“If you are serious about solving our climate change problems, and you’re serious about keeping the Great Lakes clean,” Learner said, “you need to deal with the energy and transportation sectors on a regional basis.”

Learner applied for the funding, basing his proposal in part on other regional outfits like the Conservation Law Foundation in New England, the Southern Environmental Law Center and the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund on the West Coast, which has since become Earthjustice.

The foundations backed Learner, guaranteeing $850,000 per year for three years. He left his practice, rented a storefront and started assembling furniture.

At the core of the group’s philosophy from the start, Learner said, was devising “pragmatic solutions” that paired environmental benefits with economic growth and job creation. Now such proposals are increasingly common among environmental groups, but at the time they weren’t.

Learner pledged that whenever his group came out against a project or proposal, it would say yes to a less harmful alternative.

“We said from the beginning we weren’t going to get boxed in as naysayers,” he said.

ELPC now has an annual budget of more than $6.5 million and about 50 employees in eight offices throughout the Midwest. It divides its efforts into two groups. Its strategic advocacy arm lobbies and files lawsuits to fight what it views as environmentally harmful policies. And second, it brings parties together to come up with “eco-business” deals and proposals, such as working with labor unions, local chambers of commerce and officials to facilitate solar and wind energy development in the Midwest, or a regional high-speed rail network.

Those efforts have yielded results. Iowa is the second-largest wind energy producer in the country, and Illinois, Minnesota and Kansas all rank within the top 10. And plans for a regional high-speed rail proposal to serve 60 million people in eight states are starting to jell. The St. Louis-to-Chicago-to-Detroit line is being built, and sections already run at 110 mph. The effort has garnered the support of the Obama administration, which committed $13 billion in the 2009 stimulus package.

Looking for opportunity

ELPC’s success is due in large part to Learner’s relentlessness.

Jerry Adelmann, president of the Chicago-based Openlands conservation group, said it typically takes Learner “two seconds” to respond to an email.

“He lives and breathes this stuff,” Adelmann said. “It’s part of his very being.”

To his foes — which are typically entrenched energy utilities — Learner can come off as a zealot. But he has overcome such criticism through political adeptness, which is unusual for someone who wears his Democratic-leaning politics on his sleeve.

Learner was Illinois delegate at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and has served on political committees that others in the nongovernmental organization community would likely shy away from out of fear of reprisals from the other side.

“Howard is out front in terms of his politics,” Adelmann said.

Learner seems to dodge most blowback, though, largely because of his instincts.

“I think Howard is one of those visionary leaders,” said Josh Mandelbaum, an attorney in ELPC’s Des Moines, Iowa, office. “His mind is always spinning, and he sort of sees the direction that things are moving. He is constantly trying to anticipate what opportunities will present themselves and constantly trying to take advantage of them in a strategic way.”

That doesn’t mean ELPC doesn’t have critics.

Todd Maisch, president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, said it’s possible to have a “reasonable conversation” with ELPC. But he stressed that the group often presses for more stringent environmental controls than his members can support.

“Bottom line is, we think a big part of their agenda results in very little environmental improvement but huge costs,” Maisch said.

He added that ELPC’s coalition building is often less successful than the group says.

“Their attempts,” he said, “to bring people together to build a consensus — a lot more of those fail than succeed.”

Battling energy tycoon

Learner and ELPC can nevertheless point to significant achievements, both on the large and small scale.

ELPC was part of a coalition that pushed for the closure of two old power plants in 2012 on Chicago’s South Side, the city’s last two coal-fired facilities. Before that, it fought to ensure that wastewater was treated before utilities discharged it into the Chicago River.

And last summer, ELPC lawyers secured an Iowa Supreme Court victory in challenging an Iowa Utilities Board decision that created an unfavorable and expensive environment for solar energy development in the state.

There is also a strong “defender of the little guy” thread to their work. Perhaps no case illustrates that better than ELPC’s work for a small community in Saugatuck, Mich., against former Chesapeake CEO McClendon.

ELPC’s victories include protecting regional waterways like the Chicago River from contaminated discharges.
ELPC’s victories include protecting regional waterways like the Chicago River from contaminated discharges.

An artsy Lake Michigan resort town with fewer than 1,000 year-round residents, Saugatuck is a 2½-hour drive from Chicago. In summer, tourists visit the town’s art galleries, shops and renowned beach dunes. The community has sought to protect those attractions from development by passing strict zoning laws.

Those efforts were threatened, however, in 2007, when McClendon bought 412 acres at the mouth of the Kalamazoo River that the town had been trying to make part of the public domain and conserve for 50 years.

McClendon wanted to build a gated community and resort on the land, with a nine-hole golf course, hotel, mansions and condos. Within 30 days of purchasing the property, he filed a series of lawsuits challenging Saugatuck’s zoning laws.

Overwhelmed, David Swan and the Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance turned to Learner for help.

ELPC took the cases, and Swan said the group’s attorneys became part of the community. They also provided communications and marketing support to Swan and his allies.

They were able to halt McClendon’s development. In November 2011, a federal district court judge threw out a settlement between McClendon and the Saugatuck Township Board that would have essentially removed zoning provisions from the property. The judge ruled that the settlement would have illegally prevented the board from ever updating its zoning laws for the property.

Further, the court held that any future such settlement would require a hearing to ensure it benefits the “public good.”

There remains some ongoing litigation, but the community has since bought back half the land McClendon purchased. And, Swan said, nothing has been built on McClendon’s land.

Swan credits ELPC with saving the dunes — and his community.

“It just kind of amazed me,” Swan said. “Here was a really brilliant attorney, who is really busy with huge projects, and he doesn’t let small projects like trying to save 400 acres of pristine duneland fall by the wayside.”

Electric Vehicles at the Chicago Auto Show: This is Only the Beginning

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As the Chicago Auto Show wraps up, electric vehicles continue to gain traction among both consumers and automakers as sensible, affordable and fun alternatives to traditional cars. Here are some industry highlights heading into the next year of EV sales in the Midwest and nationally:

  • The Chicago Auto Show is the world’s largest auto show and this year features 10 EVs – including the very popular Nissan Leaf, which is “normalizing” EV ownership; the next generation of the Chevy Volt, which features more range (50 miles) and a sportier look; the brand new BMW i3, which is bringing regenerative breaking to a whole new level; the super-high-end Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid, which looks like the Batmobile; and many others. Very cool.
  • General Motors kicked off the Chicago Auto Show with big news – Production will begin soon on its new, all-electric Chevy Bolt (not to be confused with the hybrid-electric Volt). The Bolt promises a 200-mile range at a $30,000 price tag (after rebates), which many predict will be a winning combination. (It’s already a win for Orion Township, Mich., where the cars will be manufactured.) Stay tuned.
  • “Electrification” is clearly one of the tools that automakers are using to meet new CAFÉ standards, which require average fuel efficiency of 54.5 mpg by 2025 – more than twice the standard for 2010. Along with smaller engines, lighter materials and better aerodynamics, all-electric and hybrid-electric models are bringing us the next generation of clean cars.

EV sales have been a small slice of the overall car-buying pie. But let’s not forget that the now-ubiquitous Toyota Prius sold only 5,600 units in its first 12 months of production; in comparison, Chevy sold 7,600 Volts and Tesla sold 11,350 of its Model S during their first 12 months of production. Now we have more educated buyers, and the technology is constantly improving. This is only the beginning, folks.

Please check out ELPC’s www.PlugInChicagoMetro.org for the latest news, trends and tips on EVs around the Midwest and nationally.

Northwest Times of Indiana: Illiana Expressway still suck in park

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget released Wednesday includes a “placeholder” for the Illiana Expressway, but the Illinois portion of the bi-state project remains under review per the executive order the governor issued last month.

Rauner’s Capital Budget is tilted toward badly needed repairs and maintenance. But a Capital Projects List released with the budget contains $8.8 million for Illiana Expressway consultant costs this year and $5 million more for closing a deal with private investors.

There was speculation Rauner’s budget might either kill or wave through the Illiana Expressway project. But that didn’t happen, with Rauner budget chief Tim Nuding on Wednesday confirming both the Illiana Expressway and South Surburban Airport projects remain on hold pending administrative review.

Illiana Expressway opponents continued their efforts Wednesday to persuade Rauner to call off the expressway project for good. They delivered petitions to his office manager at the Thompson Center just before the governor’s budget address with 12,856 signatures asking him to end the project.

“It does tie into the budget,” said Virginia Hamann, of the group No Illiana 4 Us. “It’s a good way right off the bat to tell him a way to save a lot of money for the state of Illinois.”

The signatures were collected by a broad coalition of groups opposed to the expressway, including Sierra Club, Openlands, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Active Transportation Alliance and Illinois PIRG.

The petitions submitted included one with more than 300 signatures of residents of Indiana, Hamann said.

The Illiana Expressway would run from Interstate 65, near Lowell, to Interstate 55, near Wilmington, Ill. About 10 miles would be built in Indiana and about 40 in Illinois. It has a projected total cost of $1.5 billion.

The Indiana Department of Transportation last week formally suspended its work on developing the Illiana Expressway, pending a decision by Gov. Rauner on whether to proceed with the project.

Lee Enterprises Springfield Bureau Chief Kurt Erickson contributed to this story.

Progress Illinois: Will County Residents Deliver Petitions Against Illiana Tollway

Will County residents delivered close to 13,000 petitions to state offices on Wednesday calling on Gov. Bruce Rauner to drop plans for the Illiana Tollway.

Those against the proposed expressway call it a boondoggle that will cost taxpayers money and farmland, while adversely affecting those who live near the designated area for the would-be tollway.

“When this process began we worried that we were alone, but the overwhelming response to this petition drive from taxpayers across the state lets me know that we have a chance to stop this boondoggle before it goes any further,” said Virginia Hamann, who lives close to the proposed expressway and spearheads the organization No Illiana 4 Us.

Hamann’s group rounded up some 4,500 petition signatures, while other organizations including Sierra Club, Openlands, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Active Transportation Alliance and Illinois PIRG collected thousands more, amounting to a collective total of 12,856 signatures from all the participating parties.

The proposed tollway is expected to cost $1.1 billion, according to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. Last month, Rauner issued an executive order putting a stop to progress on the public-private partnership until a cost-benefit analysis is done on the proposed 47-mile tollway, which would connect Illinois’ I-55 to Indiana’s I-65.

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Chicago Sun-Times: ‘Ditch the Illiana,’ 12,856 petitioners urge Rauner

A group of Will County residents Wednesday called on Gov. Bruce Rauner to “Ditch the Illiana” Expressway plan as they carried boxes loaded with 12,856 opposition petitions to the governor’s Chicago office.

Petitions labeling the Illiana “a boondoggle” were delivered to the Thompson Center shortly before Rauner gave his first budget address as governor.

As part of an executive order, the $1.3 billion Illiana is among the major projects under review by the Rauner administration.

Asked before Rauner’s address if the Illiana would be funded in any way in Rauner’s budget, Rauner spokesman Lance Trover said only that the project “is under review.”

”At this point, the decision whether to go forward with the Illiana resides with Governor Rauner and we are confident that Governor Rauner will take a tough look at this,” lawyer Andrew Armstrong, part of the anti-Illiana group, told reporters shortly before the petitions were delivered.

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Will Co. Residents Deliver 12,000+ Petitions Saying “Stop the Illiana”

Contact: David Jakubiak, (312) 795-3713 or DJakubiak@elpc.org

CHICAGO – Carrying boxes filled with 12,856 petitions that call on Governor Bruce Rauner to end the costly, unneeded Illiana Tollway proposal, residents of Will County brought their fight over the troubled roadway to the Thompson Center on Wednesday, saying it is a threat to taxpayers, farmland and their rural lifestyle.

“When this process began we worried that we were alone, but the overwhelming response to this petition drive from taxpayers across the state lets me know that we have a chance to stop this boondoggle before it goes any further,” said Virginia Hamann, who lives close to the proposed road’s path and leads the local grassroots group No Illiana 4 Us.

Hamman’s group collected more than 4,500 petitions from residents who would be impacted by the proposal. Other petitions were gathered from Illinoisans from across the state by groups including the Sierra Club, Openlands, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Active Transportation Alliance and Illinois PIRG.

Judy Ogalla, who represents District 1 on the Will County Board, was not surprised by the widespread opposition to the costly proposal. “It is reckless to plan to spend billions of dollars on a new road that has forecasts of minimal usage,” she said. “We have many roads and bridges in the state of Illinois that are in desperate need of repair.”

David Dodd, manager of Fratrans Trucking Company in Wilmington, IL, said the proposed road would run right over the company’s property, but what’s even worse, he said it would go unused. “It will cost truck drivers as much as $40 either way to use the tollway,” he said. “Trust me, truck drivers don’t spend their money that way.”

The group was also joined by Eli Geiss, President of the Village of Symerton, who noted that the proposal runs against the agricultural heritage of his hometown. “We do not want the pollution that the trucks will give off. We do not want the diesel and salt runoff that will poison our wells and Jordan Creek.”

A pet project of former Governor Pat Quinn, the Illiana Tollway would indebt state taxpayers and destroy vital natural areas. To attract a contractor to the so-called “public-private partnership,” the Illinois Department of Transportation would mandate taxpayer support of the private contractor for 39 years. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) has projected that the road would cost taxpayers up to $1.1 billion, diverting funding that could be used to relieve congestion and repair crumbling roads and bridges across the state.

The first executive order issued by Governor Rauner effectively froze the proposed project in mid-January, but the Will County residents are calling on the Governor to pull the plug on the project.

What They Are Saying About the Proposed Illiana Tollway

Several local, statewide and national advocacy groups have supported Will County residents in opposing the deeply flawed Illiana Tollway proposal. Here’s what they are saying about the project now:

Howard Learner, Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center: “The Illiana Tollway is a financial boondoggle that’s a waste of Illinois taxpayers’ money and would harm the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.  There are better, more sensible alternatives, and thousands of people across the state agree that it is time to end the Illiana and focus on smarter transportation projects.”

Jack Darin, Director of the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter: “The Illiana would pave over some of the best farmland in the world, pollute the Kankakee River watershed, and threaten the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. More than 10,000 people across our state have joined with leaders from around the region and expressed concern that the Illiana project would siphon dollars from other transportation projects and undermine planning for a strong Chicago region.”

Jerry Adelmann, Openlands President and CEO: “The Illiana Tollway runs counter to every conceivable concept of sound regional planning. The Illinoisans who signed this petition understand that the proposed tollway would negatively impact or destroy farmland, communities, and open space, including vital natural areas like Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. It is time to put an end to the Illiana and the mockery it makes of sensible long-term planning.”

Ron Burke, Active Transportation Alliance: “These petitions vividly capture that the Illiana Tollway would not solve any transportation issues in Will County but would negatively impact other needed projects across the state. It’s time to advance transportation initiatives that solve problems, instead of creating new ones.”

Abe Scarr, Director of Illinois PIRG: “The message of the signers is that we need to move forward. The first thing that needs to happen is that the Illiana needs to be removed from the approved project list for future transportation funding. Its current position atop that lists puts every other project under uncertainty. Illinois needs to be able to plan and prioritize for future infrastructure investments, not keep propping up this zombie highway.”

WGN: Illiana Expressway Project on hold; Opponents petition to keep it that way

WILMINGTON, Ind — Some Illinois residents say they know how Gov Rauner can cut costs and save the state money: Kill the Illiana Expressway Project.

The project started back in in 2010. Then-Governors Pat Quinn in Illinois and Mitch Daniels in Indiana signed an agreement to come together and create the Illiana expressway. The idea was to create a 47-mile expressway that would connect I-55 in Wilmington through I-57 to I-65 in Lowell, Indiana. The goal is to relieve congestion along I-80 and help bring in business.

But last month, Gov Rauner issued an executive order putting the project on hold in order to review its potential costs and benefits.

Tomorrow, opponents of the project will deliver 10,000 signatures to the Illinois Dept of Transportation urging Gov Rauner to say no to the project. Among them – Joyce and Larry Readman.

The Readman’s Wilmington property has been in the family for four generations. They lost part of their farming land to I-55 and now stand to lose another 10 acres to the Illiana Expressway.

“It`s taking away future income,” Larry says. “The property will be worth nothing.”

The couple has helped gather signatures for a petition asking Gov Rauner to kill the project.

“It’s going to affect a lot of people in its path,” he says.

But those for it say the Illiana is necessary to accommodate the growing truck traffic along I-80.

In the last five years, Burlington Northern and Union Pacific intermodal rail yards both came to Will County.

The Will County Center for Economic Development says each day more than 25,000 semis come in and out of those two facilities.

A 2013 study by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning argued that the effect on traffic congestion would be “negligible” and that taxpayers could be on the hook for up to $1.1 billion dollars over the next 35 years. That’s because the proposed agreement says the Illiana would be a toll-way in a public-private partnership. If the tolls expected aren`t collected by the contractor, the public would pay.

Gov Rauner’s office says it’s continuing to review the project.

His office told made a statement to WGN News saying, “ Illinois is in a financial crisis and review of these projects is necessary to ensure we`re spending taxpayer money on essential projects.”

The federal government has given the project the green light but it’s on hold in both states now waiting for Gov Rauner`s study.

If it`s killed, The Will County Economic Development says it will have to find another alternate to the Illiana because it maintains there is a need for a bypass for all the truck traffic.

ELPC Presents at USDA’s Forum on Rural Energy for America

???????????????????????????????On Friday, Feb. 6th, ELPC Senior Policy Advocate Andy Olsen spoke at the USDA’s National Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Stakeholder Forum, which outlined program improvements since REAP’s recent overhaul and highlighted stakeholder successes. To access a free webcast of the event, click here.

Close to Victory: Ending the SS Badger’s Dumping Toxic Coal Ash into Lake Michigan

We’re on the verge of victory in stopping the SS Badger’s longstanding dumping of 1,000,000 pounds of toxic coal ash into Lake Michigan each summer. The car ferry’s owners are now moving to comply with a federal court consent decree by capturing and then lawfully disposing the toxic coal ash. This is a significant step in the right direction for reducing toxic pollution of the Great Lakes. It reaffirms the principle that no business should be permitted to use the Great Lakes as a dumping ground for toxics.

This progress follows a strong campaign led by the Environmental Law & Policy Center with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and our good partner colleagues at the Alliance for the Great Lakes, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and others. Here’s what happened and what comes next:

The 60-year-old SS Badger is the last coal-burning ship on the Great Lakes. For too many years, the resulting coal ash – containing toxic materials – has been moved from the ship’s boilers to an on-board retention area, where it’s mixed with Lake Michigan water and then discharged into the lake as toxic slurry. Public pressure and the SS Badger’s continued pollution led to an action by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that resulted in a binding consent decree filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

Following the consent decree, last year, SS Badger operators installed new digital combustion controls that enable the ship to run more efficiently, burning about 15% less coal on its trips from Manitowoc, WI, to Ludington, MI. The SS Badger operators are now scheduled to install a new system that will move the coal ash along a conveyor belt between the ship’s boilers and four containment bins. Those bins will later be moved to an appropriate land-based site, possibly for re-sale as a cement filler. This kind of “encapsulated reuse” is one of the better scenarios for handling toxic coal ash.

This has been tough sledding. Working together, we’re on the verge of finally stopping the SS Badger’s dumping of toxic coal ash into Lake Michigan. Polluting the Great Lakes this way should not be tolerated. We’re expanding ELPC’s Great Lakes protection work and achieving progress. For more information on ways that you can help ELPC to protect our Great Lakes, please visit www.ProtectOurLakes.org.

Greenwire: Groups pressure Congress to invest in passenger rail, transit infrastructure

Unions and environmental groups called on Congress to provide more funds for passenger rail and transit systems in a report released today.

The Environmental Law and Policy Center and BlueGreen Alliance released the report, “Passenger Rail & Transit Rail Manufacturing in the U.S.,” which examined the impact and opportunities the passenger rail and transit industry presents to the national economy.

Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, said at the Washington, D.C., release that there are a variety of opportunities for Congress to invest in long-term passenger rail and transit infrastructure.

“We believe both passenger rail and transit should be included in a robust way in the transportation reauthorization bill and how funding is allocated,” he said. “We’re not against highways and bridges, but we want to make sure passenger rail and transit is a full, robust part of how the transportation reauthorization bill comes out.”

Some members of Congress have fretted over funding for a long-term bill, but Learner suggested there are ways to pay for infrastructure needs, including raising the gas tax.

“The gas tax has attracted some support and some favorable nods on both sides of the aisle, but also some opposition, particularly coming from the Republican House members,” said Learner.

Jennifer Narrod, the shop chairwoman for the IUE-CWA Local 81323 and a worker at Alstom Signaling Inc. in Rochester, N.Y., said a downsizing of manufacturing at her plant in recent years not only has hurt workers, but also has affected small businesses throughout the community. Narrod said long-term investments in the rail industry would be beneficial to Rochester and small towns across the country.

Narrod said her company, which produces signaling and operating systems for rail cars, manufactures products for larger cities and noted that Rochester doesn’t have a passenger rail system. Along with the report, Narrod said small-town companies have a significant impact on the rail industry and are important to the economy.

The report found more than 750 companies in 39 states that manufacture components for passenger rail and transit rail. It homed in on a set of Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic states and found 540 companies making subcomponents of materials, track and infrastructure products, as well as providing repairs for the industry.

Investing in passenger rail and transit infrastructure could further boost manufacturing in those states and expand production to others, the report found.

“We need leadership from Congress to ensure long-term, sustainable funding for transportation, and from leaders at every level to ensure that as we build and operate the clean energy and transportation infrastructure and technology of the future, we also rebuild good family-supporting jobs and prosperous communities,” said Kimberly Glas, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of unions and environmental groups.

Congress has until May to find a funding solution for transportation infrastructure.

The report’s authors said short-term funding bills hamper hiring and fail to give investors and companies confidence to expand plants. Both Glas and Learner said a long-term infrastructure investment would provide these companies with certainty for the future.

Although there are a few months until the deadline, Glas said she and others would have “boots on the ground” at the Capitol and in congressional districts that are affected by infrastructure funding.

“Congress can and should come together and get something done here, and get it done in way that’s robust for creating jobs, growing our economy, investing in passenger rail and transit rail that helps our environment, helps mobility, reduces congestion and is good for jobs,” said Learner. “It’s up to Congress now to get that done.”

ELPC’s Founding Vision is Becoming Today’s Sustainability Reality

Support ELPC’s Next 20 Years of Successful Advocacy

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ELPC’s Founding Vision is Becoming Today’s Sustainability Reality

Support ELPC’s Next 20 Years of Successful Advocacy

Donate Now

ELPC’s Founding Vision is Becoming Today’s Sustainability Reality

Support ELPC’s Next 20 Years of Successful Advocacy

Donate Now

ELPC’s Founding Vision is Becoming Today’s Sustainability Reality

Support ELPC’s Next 20 Years of Successful Advocacy

Donate Now

ELPC’s Founding Vision is Becoming Today’s Sustainability Reality

Support ELPC’s Next 20 Years of Successful Advocacy

Donate Now

ELPC’s Founding Vision is Becoming Today’s Sustainability Reality

Support ELPC’s Next 20 Years of Successful Advocacy

Donate Now

ELPC’s Founding Vision is Becoming Today’s Sustainability Reality

Support ELPC’s Next 20 Years of Successful Advocacy

Donate Now

ELPC’s Founding Vision is Becoming Today’s Sustainability Reality

Support ELPC’s Next 20 Years of Successful Advocacy

Donate Now

ELPC’s Founding Vision is Becoming Today’s Sustainability Reality

Support ELPC’s Next 20 Years of Successful Advocacy

Donate Now

ELPC’s Founding Vision is Becoming Today’s Sustainability Reality

Support ELPC’s Next 20 Years of Successful Advocacy

Donate Now