Monday, April 23, 2012
Earth Day 1970 sounded an alarm. It launched the modern environmental movement, bringing cleaner air that’s healthier to breathe, cleaner water that’s safer to drink and enjoy for recreation, and fewer dangerous toxics in our communities. Today, the growing green economy is helping to drive the Midwest’s and our nation’s economic recovery. Energy efficient equipment and appliances, wind and solar energy development, cleaner more fuel efficient cars and modern high-performance rail development are good for job creation, good for economic growth and good for the environment.
Nonetheless, some defensive polluters and politicized critics are hauling out the old, false myth that we must choose between job creation and environmental progress. That wasn’t true 42 years ago, and it isn’t true today. Nor do most people believe in that canard. Let’s look at the facts and progress of innovative clean technologies in the Midwest.
Energy Efficiency Improvements are creating jobs, saving people and businesses money on their utility bills, and reducing pollution. Johnson Controls, Honeywell, Shaw Group and Sieben Energy Associates are among the many energy efficiency businesses employing thousands of skilled workers retrofitting schools, hospitals, homes and commercial, industrial and governmental buildings. Saving energy saves consumers money and keeps money in the Midwest regional economy. Less pollution means better public health and cleaner lakes and rivers for all. Why would anyone argue that it’s somehow smart to waste energy and money?
Wind and Solar Energy Development create manufacturing and technical jobs, rural economic development and pollution-free energy. The Environmental Law & Policy Center’s Wind and Solar Supply Chain reports show that :
- Illinois is home to more than 300 wind, solar and geothermal supply chain businesses and 18,000 related jobs
- Iowa is home to more than 80 wind supply chain businesses and 2,300 manufacturing jobs, alone.
- Michigan is home to more than 241 wind and solar supply chain businesses and 10,000 related jobs.
- Ohio is home to more than 169 wind and solar supply chain businesses and 9,000 related jobs.
- Wisconsin is home to more than 250 wind and solar supply chain businesses and 12,000 related jobs.
Chicago is home to the headquarters of 13 major wind power companies, making “the Windy City” a global wind industry hub. Old-line manufacturing companies including Brad Foote Gear Works (Cicero, IL), Dowding Industries – Astraeus Wind Energy (Eaton Rapids, MI), A. Lucas & Sons Steel (Peoria, IL), S&C Electric (Chicago, IL), Timken (Canton, OH) and Broadwind – Tower Tech (Manitowoc, WI) are re-tooling to supply growing markets for clean energy equipment. Iowa is the nation’s #2 state for installed wind power, and Illinois was the nation’s #2 state for new wind power development in 2011. Wind power is the fastest growing global energy source. Midwest politicians must get the policy framework right to keep advancing our region’s clean energy economy leadership.
Cleaner, More Efficient Cars and Trucks save us money at the gas pump, cutback air pollution, improve national security by making our country less dependent on foreign oil, and keep money in the Midwest states’ economies rather than drain dollars to the Middle East, Venezuela and oil-producing states. The Obama Administration’s leadership in stabilizing and modernizing the American auto industry is a true success story, which is especially important for the Midwest with its high percentage of auto-related manufacturing jobs. Look at just Illinois: Ford is now adding 1,100 new jobs at its Chicago assembly plant, Chrysler is adding 1,800 new jobs at its Belvedere plant, and Mitsubishi Motors is investing at its Normal plant and promoting electric vehicles. Automakers and parts suppliers in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana are reviving, and there are new advanced battery manufacturers, especially in Michigan.
The federal clean car standards will increase fuel economy to a fleet-wide average of 35 mpg in 2016 and 54.5 mpg by 2025. That will save trillions of dollars for America’s economy, create jobs for Americans building the cleaner cars for the future, and reduce greenhouse gas pollution. This is a smart solution.
High-Speed Rail Development is on track across Illinois with leadership from Democratic Governor Quinn and across Michigan with leadership from Republican Governor Snyder. High-performance rail improves mobility, creates jobs and spurs economic growth, and reduces pollution. Supply chain businesses across the Midwest will be manufacturing equipment for high-speed rail projects. Wisconsin Governor Walker’s decision to reject $810 million of federal high-speed rail funds and Ohio Governor Kasich’s decision to reject $400 million are missed opportunities, which we hope can be reversed in the future.
Modern, fast, comfortable and convenient trains connecting Chicago to Milwaukee, Detroit and St. Louis and to Cleveland, Des Moines, Indianapolis, Madison, Minneapolis-St. Paul and other Midwestern cities is an important third transportation option to highway congestion with higher gas prices and rising airfares with fewer flights. This is a sensible solution for our future.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ recent report shows that 3.1 million people hold jobs in green goods and services. Close to 500,000 jobs are in manufacturing, 370,000 in construction and 349,000 in professional, scientific and technical services. That’s progress.
We will soon be overwhelmed by 30-second political attack ads from all sides. Let’s separate sound solutions from the sound bites. We are achieving job creation, economic growth and better environmental quality together. That’s what the public wants and it’s happening.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Many of our partners, friends and supporters have websites and blogs that share their strategic thinking on important environmental, clean energy and natural resource conservation issues in our Midwest communities and nationally. Each week, I’ll be sharing with you a particularly interesting website or blog post for your education and engagement. Let’s kick things off this April – right before Earth Day – with two recent posts for your reading interest.
Suggestions and ideas welcomed!
Michigan Land Use Institute Blog on Why Detroit’s Public Transit Is Vital
This “post of the week” comes from Jim Lively, a planner and program director at the Michigan Land Use Institute (MLUI), a long-time ELPC partner in Northern Michigan. Jim’s post “Detroit Transit Vital to the Whole State” explains his views on why the Michigan Legislature should create the state’s first regional transit authority in the Detroit Metro Area:
“But economists know that Michigan’s future, including Traverse City’s, is inextricably connected to the fate of Detroit. And Detroit cannot succeed if Michiganders don’t stop the terrible, twin trends of public disinvestment and population loss from our state’s largest city.
Perhaps the most glaring example of disinvestment is the lack of a regional public transportation system that can move people between city and suburbs. Realtors, developers, and demographers confirm that cities without effective transit systems are not attractive to the young knowledge workers who are driving the new economy.”
The Scoop: Jim Lively’s blog post describes how the proposed regional transit authority would better connect Detroit to the suburbs and shows the problems facing cities that lack regional transport. Thanks Jim and MLUI, for your post and work on better transportation in Michigan.
Real the whole story here: http://mlui.org/blogs/?p=2811
Amanda Hanley’s WREN Blog
This “post of the week” comes from Amanda Hanley’s WREN Blog – “Winnetka Resident’s Eco Notes”. Amanda is an environmental consultant, activist and Mom writing about opportunities for people to be more conscious of sustainable living and talk about key environmental issues affecting our communities and the world. In this month’s “Winnetka’s Dirty Secret”, Amanda explains that coal plants are the principal source of electricity in Winnetka even as many residents would like to green their community:
“Winnetka’s power is not very clean. We are more dependent on coal than most every other town in Northern Illinois. When it comes to renewable energy, neighboring communities are set to reach much higher targets. Making matters worse, many North Shore towns have an opportunity to cut electricity rates (supply portion) up to 25% and get 100% green power. This option is not available in Winnetka.”
Winnetka is a member of the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency (IMEA). Amanda explains her views on the limited accountability, disclosure and standards for IMEA’s operations and how IMEA relies on polluting power supplies. She describes how some Winnetka residents are taking actions to make their community more environmentally friendly. Amanda also calls for knowledge sharing on this issue: the more people know where their electricity comes from, the more people can actively fight for cleaner, renewable electricity for their homes and businesses.
The Scoop: Amanda Hanley’s blog post in WREN this month effectively highlights the problems of Winnetka relying on polluting electricity supplies and missing out on clean, renewable energy opportunities. She’s right to urge people to take actions calling on IMEA to pursue more environmentally sustainable renewable energy supplies. Thanks Amanda, for your WREN blog post and call to action.
Read the whole article here: http://www.ecowren.net/2012/winnetkas-dirty-secret/
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Today, the Great Lakes Commission and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative released its Chicago Area Waterways Study (CAWS), which offers recommended action steps to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp and other invasive species. ELPC Executive Director Howard Learner released this statement about the study and its recommendations.
“Separating the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River Basin is a key step to protect both the ecological and economic value of the Great Lakes. More than 30 million people live in the Great Lakes Basin and rely on its abundance of freshwater, which is under increasing threat from Asian carp and other invasive species. The release of this important study and action framework today advances important Great Lakes values.
“The Study shows that strong and effective action is needed sooner than later to protect Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes. We have to get this right from the start. There are no do-over ‘Mulligans’ if invasive species get into our Great Lakes.”
Mr. Learner served as a member of the Advisory Committee for the Chicago Area Waterways Study project.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
We’re proud. Based on ELPC’s Charity Navigator score on financial strength and management, ELPC is being recognized in the media as among “The 10 Highest-Rated Charities in America: 2011.”
Please see the articles on MSN Money and Main Street.
ELPC is the only environmental group and the only advocacy group on this list. Moreover, as my colleague Jill Geiger points out, ELPC is the only listed group, which is located between the coasts.
Good news for us all at ELPC.
Sunday, January 1, 2012
As we begin a new year, let’s recognize a terrific long-delayed success finalized at the end of 2011.
On December 21st, the US EPA announced the first-ever national standards to reduce mercury, arsenic, cadmium and other toxic air pollutants from coal plants by requiring installation of modern pollution control equipment. These standards make good economic and environmental sense. They were required by the Clean Air Act more than 20 years ago and level the playing field for Illinois energy companies that have already invested in mercury pollution control technologies. The national investments will create jobs, achieve cleaner air and water, drive technological innovations and protect children’s health.
Coal plants are the largest source of mercury pollution in the Great Lakes. Public health officials have issued “mercury advisories” for almost every river, lake and stream in the Great Lakes states. Sad, isn’t it? It’s not safe to eat the fish we catch.
Mercury is a neurotoxin that, when ingested by pregnant women, enters the bloodstream, crosses the placental barrier and impairs fetal brain development, thereby causing mental and physical harms. Installing widely available pollution control technologies can reduce more than 90 percent of the mercury pollution that is harming both children’s health and our environment.
In 2006, the Illinois Pollution Control Board adopted mercury pollution standards, which required all coal plants to install technologies to reduce mercury pollution by 90% or more by 2009 and 2013. Some coal plant owners made the same overblown arguments about reliability threats and costs that we’re hearing today at the Federal level. What happened in Illinois? The coal plants mostly complied, mercury pollution dropped significantly, the lights stayed on, and utility rates didn’t go up from that. Our children’s health is better protected.
Illinois is demonstrating that the federal mercury standards are achievable, but some out-of-state coal plant owners and their Congressional allies are already moving to weaken the new standards.
Both Sen. Dick Durbin and Sen. Mark Kirk have long expressed their support for strong mercury pollution reduction standards. Senator Kirk wrote in 2003: “We are at risk and our children are at greater risk if we do nothing to reduce mercury pollution. This may become a defining issue of our decade, and we have the chance to make a real difference for our environmental future.”
Illinois coal plant owners are stepping up to clean up mercury, and they shouldn’t be placed at a competitive disadvantage by others who don’t and continue their mercury pollution.
We urge Senator Durbin, Senator Kirk and Illinois’ Congressional Representatives to strongly oppose those who would take the country backwards. Let’s move forward with these common-sense national mercury pollution reduction standards to protect children’s health and our Great Lakes and rivers for all.
Best wishes to ELPC’s valued friends, colleagues and supporters for a successful 2012,
Friday, December 16, 2011
This is both a remarkable and challenging year for our nation’s economy and for the Environmental Law & Policy Center’s work to protect our environment, preserve the Midwest’s natural heritage and grow the clean energy economy. During this time of extreme political partisanship and economic doldrums, ELPC has produced strong successes and strong results.
We have achieved a fundamental victory toward cleaning up the Chicago River for recreational use and enjoyment, as a vibrant natural habitat and as a community asset. High-speed rail development is moving from vision to reality, transforming the Midwest’s transportation infrastructure. Energy efficiency is becoming widely accepted as a smart way of doing business and the best, fastest and cheapest way of saving consumers money on utility bills, reducing pollution and enhancing grid reliability. Wind power and solar power are the fastest growing energy sources in the world, creating jobs and spurring business. ELPC advances win-win-win solutions that achieve environmental progress, job creation and economic growth together.
I am writing to ask you to make a financial contribution to ELPC during this holiday season. ELPC combines strong legal and policy advocacy with diverse eco-business partnerships to advance our core vision and mission of achieving environmental progress and economic development together. This is the right environmental solutions-oriented approach for our times.
Cleaning Up the Chicago River – A Turning Point! For years, Chicagoans have sadly tolerated our namesake river being unsafe and unhealthy for recreation and enjoyment. Chicago is one of the very few major cities in which wastewater is not disinfected prior to discharge into the river. ELPC’s and our colleagues’ persistent and effective advocacy over the past six years succeeded in 2011. The U.S. EPA and the Illinois Pollution Control Board directed the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to install modern pollution control equipment to disinfect wastewater and the District has changed course and so committed. Twenty years from now, Chicagoans enjoying the Chicago River in their communities will look back, shake their heads and ask why it took so long to clean up our river. 2011 will be seen as the turning point. ELPC and our colleagues at Friends of the Chicago River, Openlands, NRDC, Sierra Club and Alliance for the Great Lakes are very proud of this breakthrough.
Cleaner Air and More Clean Energy. ELPC’s Repowering the Midwest and Job Jolt studies in 2000 and 2001 presented a visionary clean energy development plan for our region. We are now achieving this transformation. More than 6,000 megawatts of wind power are running, solar is coming and energy efficiency is flattening out demand while old highly-polluting coal plants are either installing modern pollution control equipment or shutting down. The growing clean energy economy is “jolting” new job creation, and old-line manufacturers are retooling to make new wind and solar energy equipment. ELPC is leading the policy charge for this transformative change to a cleaner energy economy.
Midwest High-Speed Rail – From Vision to Reality. Thousands of construction workers are now working to upgrade the Chicago-St. Louis and Chicago-Detroit corridors to provide modern, faster, more comfortable and convenient rail service that can improve mobility for businesses and families, reduce pollution, create new jobs and pull the regional economy together. ELPC, the Chambers of Commerce in Illinois and the AFL-CIO are all on the same page, working together to get the new fast trains running soon. Get ready to get on board!
Protecting the Saugatuck Dunes Conservation Area. ELPC attorneys’ representation of the Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance and other local conservation and civic leaders achieved a huge legal victory in the Federal District Court for the Western District of Michigan that is heading off, for now, a damaging large-scale development in this very special natural area that the National Trust for Historic Preservation identified as one of the 11 most endangered places in America. This legal victory exemplifies the importance and effectiveness of ELPC’s public interest lawyering and opens the door to better solutions that protect vital lands.
How do we keep producing successes that improve environmental quality and preserve natural resources? There’s no “secret sauce,” but there is a winning formula. ELPC achieves successes by developing smart, innovative strategies with a team of talented and dedicated public interest attorneys, MBAs, policy advocates and communications specialists working with diverse and effective business, labor, environmental and civic partners. Our win-win-win – environmental progress, job creation and economic growth – approach makes sense, focuses on solutions and brings together the people and partners who can get things done. Together with ELPC’s Board and Staff, I’m proud of our 2011 accomplishments, and we all look forward to seizing more strategic opportunities for environmental solutions and progress.
ELPC is the Midwest’s premier environmental legal advocacy and eco-business innovation organization, and we’re among the very best in the country. Thank you for considering a contribution to support our success in protecting the Midwest’s environmental quality and preserving our natural resources. My best wishes to you for a happy and healthy new year.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Statement by Howard A. Learner, Executive Director,
Environmental Law & Policy Center
“Preventing just one death is heroic, and EPA’s new pollution reduction standards do even better by preventing tens of thousands of premature deaths and heart attacks and avoiding hundreds of thousands of illnesses.
Reducing soot and smog can alleviate asthma and help people’s health in ways that make good economic sense. The EPA’s Cross State Pollution Rule will generate up to $290 billion in annual health and welfare benefits, which greatly exceeds the pollution clean-up costs.
These long overdue clean air standards will create new jobs as utilities hire skilled workers to install modern pollution control equipment and replace the oldest, most highly polluting coal plants with cleaner new energy sources.
Today, we celebrate the beginning of a healthier nation and a stronger economy by reducing air pollution that has been both harming our health and draining our wallets.”
Read US EPA’s final cross-state air pollution rule here: http://www.epa.gov/crossstaterule/
Download ELPC’s mercury report here.
The Environmental Law & Policy Center is the Midwest’s leading environmental legal advocacy and eco-business innovation organization. www.ELPC.org
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Many pundits have reduced the November 2010 election results to quick generalized sound bites reflecting the noisiest politicians, but the impacts on environmental and transportation issues are more complicated. Most of the elected Midwest Governors are reasonably pragmatic and open-minded when it comes to renewable energy, energy efficiency, natural resources preservation and high-speed rail development. However, there is little federal support for climate change action or movement on the Midwest Governors’ Association’s climate initiatives.
All of this is playing out in the face of four broad, contradictory contexts:
- First, unprecedented state budget crises and federal funding cuts that severely constrain environmental protection actions and services by responsible public agencies.
- Second, high unemployment and a public focused on jobs – we need to make “green jobs” real to people by showing where they are growing in their communities.
- Third, extraordinarily poisonous partisan, ideological politics.
- Fourth, strong public support for policies and programs to achieve clean air and water, better transportation, and a healthier, less toxic environment.
So, let’s look at what happened and the opportunities and challenges for progress.
The Midwest Governors’ races produced diverse results. Governor Pat Quinn (D- IL) is a leader on clean energy and high-speed rail, and Governor Mark Dayton (D-MN) has a strong environmental record. Governor Terry Branstad (R-IA) is a pragmatic supporter on some renewable energy and environmental issues, and Governor Rick Snyder’s (R-MI) technology interests should lead to continued initiatives (though focused differently) to spur solar energy, advanced battery manufacturing technologies and high-speed rail development, building on Michigan’s progress during the Granholm Administration.
On the other hand, Governor Scott Walker(R-WI) is an ideological opponent of most things environmental, and Governor John Kasich (R-Ohio) has not been supportive. We expect little support from North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple (R), but hope to continue working well with South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard (R) who supports wind power development policies.
All of the Midwest/Great Plains Governors, except for Indiana Governor Daniels, are newly elected. Many have little experience with the state renewable energy standards (RES) and energy efficiency performance standards (EEPS) that have been working well. Additionally, they haven’t been part of the Midwest Governors’ collaborative work on regional high-speed rail and Great Lakes restoration. They are appointing new senior energy and environmental staff and new EPA Directors and Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Chairs. The clean energy and environmental/public health advocacy community should help to re-build the institutional understanding for the new appointees so that ground gained during the last few years isn’t lost.
State Legislatures have shifted. Republicans’ control both the State Senate and House in all of the states, except in Illinois where Democrats retained their Senate and House majorities and in Iowa where Democrats held their State Senate majority. In both Michigan and Iowa, the Republican state legislators may constrain Governor Snyder’s and Branstad’s abilities to advance clean energy and environmental programs. On the other hand, Illinois presents opportunities for environmental and clean energy leadership.
Overall, the Republican shifts in the Governors’ offices and State Legislatures will affect the remaps of both Congressional and state legislative districts going into the November 2012 elections.
The Congressional elections were swept by Republicans across much of the Midwest. Republicans captured all contested U.S. Senate seats in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, North Dakota and Wisconsin, and defeated many incumbent Democratic Congressmen. The defeat of U.S. House Transportation Committee Chair James Oberstar (D-MN) is a significant loss for high-speed rail advocates. Most of the newly-elected Republicans are not environmental supporters and some are very hostile, especially on climate change legislation. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) may prove to be an exception based on his Congressional record for protecting the Great Lakes and advancing renewable energy and high-speed rail. We may gain support from Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) on energy efficiency and clean water issues. Some newly-elected Republicans (e.g., Illinois’ Robert Dold and Joe Walsh) were elected in districts that have strong pro-environment constituencies, and they will seriously hamstring their 2012 re-election efforts if they continue voting so negatively.
Our biggest challenges are: (1) State budget crises that will severely limit environmental agencies’ capacity to implement and enforce the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and other environmental laws; (2) Unprecedented ideological opposition to environmental progress among too many state legislators across the Midwest; and (3) The public’s focus on job creation and retention rather than environmental and other quality of life issues.
There are, however, opportunities for environmentalists, clean energy and clean transportation advocates to play offense, not just defense. We must be more creative in targeting specific strategic opportunities. Lately, I’ve been describing our approach as akin to the Clue board game: “matching Colonel Mustard in the library with the pipe wrench.” In other words, pick the right issues with the right coalition partners as joint messengers in the right places.
1. High-speed rail development can be a winner even though it’s situated differently among the Midwest states with some Democratic rail champions (Quinn and Dayton) and some Republican rail opponents (Kasich and Walker). Governors Walker and Kasich returned billions in federal high-speed rail funds. We must challenge these Governors for losing local jobs and stunting economic growth to score partisan political points. (This advocacy is now beginning to have an impact: Governor Walker is now applying for federal high-speed rail grant funds for the Chicago-Milwaukee corridor.)
Illinois and Minnesota strongly support high-speed rail development, and our public advocacy is vitally important to keep Iowa and Michigan “on track” with their states’ high-speed rail projects.
The public wants modern and convenient passenger rail service that can improve mobility, reduce pollution, create jobs and spur economic growth. High-speed rail is President Obama’s and Secretary LaHood’s #1 transportation priority. Though it won’t be easy, we can win and advance this structural transformation of the Midwest’s transportation system.
2. Energy efficiency makes sense to many state policymakers on both sides of the aisle. In tight economic times, energy efficiency saves money for residential and business consumers, reduces pollution, improves reliability and creates jobs. It’s a winner when explained in practical terms, and we can show how investments in Energy Efficiency Performance Standards and other programs have produced economic benefits and will keep improving over the next decade.
3. Wind and solar power have strong public support at the state level, and policymakers on both sides of the aisle recognize the job creation and economic growth benefits. The RESs in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin are self-ratcheting measures that increase development, and major wind power developments are also going forward in Indiana, Iowa and the Dakotas. We must continue to overcome barriers to moving RESs forward and make the case for job growth and economic development in granular, in-the-district terms. As more projects are developed and more manufacturers build supply-chain equipment, more legislators will see the jobs, jobs, jobs benefits in their districts.
4. Challenges to force the clean up or shut down of old coal plants will likely benefit from less state funds available for various publicly-subsidized retrofitting schemes that keep arising and less willingness among PUCs to approve rate hikes in the current economy.
5. Federal budget cutbacks and state budget crises will limit new, unaffordable, sprawl-inducing highway projects, just as budget cuts hamper many important environmental and conservation programs.
6. In Iowa, Republican Governor Branstad defeated Democrat Culver by 10%, while the Iowa Water and Land Legacy Amendment ballot measure won 63% – 37%. That means at least 40% of Iowa’s Republican voters for Branstad also voted for a new trust fund for clean water and natural resources protection. This strong voter support creates an opportunity to leverage clean water and land conservation policy action by Governor Branstad and state legislators and has sent an important message heard in Illinois and Indiana, among others.
There are major challenges and some significant opportunities for progress. We are moving on both paths with our colleagues and diverse potential allies. Although many new legislators have spoken out against climate change legislation, many have expressed support for renewable energy development, conservation values and high-speed rail development. We believe there will continue to be opportunities to work with the Governors, state legislators and the Congressional delegations to advance key components of our clean energy and smart transportation policy agendas. Let’s go forward and win!
Friday, February 18, 2011
This week, Florida Governor Rick Scott rejected $2.4 billion in federal funds to build a modern passenger rail line between Orlando and Tampa that would have created jobs and supercharged Florida’s tourism industry. Instead, he placed short-sighted partisan politics above people’s transportation needs and job creation. Governor Scott’s apparent motivations were reflected in his partisan statements criticizing President Obama.
Americans want modern, fast and better rail service that can improve mobility, reduce pollution, create jobs and spur economic growth. Polling shows that high-speed rail support is not limited to people in so-called “red” states or “blue” states. People want better transportation options. According to a recent Rockefeller Foundation survey, 80 percent of those polled agree that federal investment to improve and modernize transportation “will boost local economies and create millions of jobs from construction to engineering.”
Scott’s ridership math is misleading and uninformed. He attempts to justify his ridership skepticism by saying that “only” 3.2 million people ride the Northeast’s Acela trains, but ignores the other 7.6 million passengers who take the slower, but less expensive, Northeast Regional trains in the same corridor. Together, these trains serve more passengers than all airlines combined in these markets.
Scott has cost us thousands of jobs and billions in economic development at a time when people are hurting. He has prioritized scoring partisan political points against the President over gaining job creation and better transportation options for many people. The American public deserves better, especially in these challenging times.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
STATEMENT OF HOWARD A. LEARNER, Executive Director
Environmental Law & Policy Center
“Americans do believe that environmental progress can be achieved together with job creation and economic growth. President Obama’s address identified Midwestern clean energy and high-speed rail development projects where this is already happening.
Hundreds of old-line Rust Belt manufacturers are retooling to produce equipment for the growing clean energy economy, as shown by the Environmental Law & Policy Center’s recent reports. Federal investments in renewable energy are spurring job growth and revitalizing the Midwest manufacturing sector. The Michigan solar company highlighted in the President’s speech is a good example. After decades of decline, America’s clean energy industry is creating new manufacturing jobs and making us more globally competitive.
We can’t build a 21st century economy with a 19th century transportation infrastructure. In Illinois and Michigan, federal investments in high-speed rail are creating construction and supply chain jobs today that will improve and expand transportation options tomorrow. Modern, fast, comfortable and convenient rail development will improve mobility, reduce pollution, create new jobs and spur economic growth.
The President’s clean energy and high-speed rail proposals are investments in America’s future. Here, in the Midwest Heartland, let’s seize these opportunities to strengthen our economy, create jobs and improve our environment in ways that make good sense and make our nation more competitive.”