For Immediate Release
September 21, 2006
Labor/Environmental Alliance Says Advanced Technology
Key to Auto Industry Future
Issues Challenge to Lawmakers to Create Good Jobs,
End Michigan’s Energy Dependence
Lansing, MI--At a Lansing news conference Thursday, an alliance of labor and environmental leaders challenged Michigan legislators to embrace an innovative plan to help the state’s industries create thousands of good jobs in advanced automotive and new energy technologies. The group outlined specific proposals they believe will invigorate Michigan’s economy, protect Michigan’s environment, and help the nation end its dependence on foreign oil.
“With strong leadership, Michigan workers can build the hybrids, wind turbines, solar panels and other key energy technologies that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and revitalize our economy,” said Mark Gaffney, President of the Michigan AFL CIO. “We’re challenging Michigan lawmakers to implement a bold, visionary plan to achieve these goals.”
Jerome Ringo, President of the national Apollo Alliance and Chair of the National Wildlife Federation Board, praised the effort and held out high hopes for the state. “Michigan has taken some important steps toward investing in the energy and automotive technologies of the future, but state leaders can’t stop now. Retaining Michigan’s automotive leadership and clean energy momentum demands that we pursue new policies to ensure greater investment in order to set Michigan apart from its competitors.”
The group challenged lawmakers to embrace a bold plan to:
• Promote and incentivize a new generation of advanced automotive and fuel efficient technologies built here in Michigan;
• Invest further in homegrown energy sources, such as Michigan-grown biofuels and renewable energy;
• Develop a Michigan alternative energy manufacturing sector by promoting a comprehensive package of R&D, workforce training, commercialization and manufacturing initiatives;
• Establish a major energy efficiency effort focused on reducing public and private building energy use, increasing industrial efficiency and expanding the use and manufacture of energy efficient appliances.
According to the Alliance, these measures will create short and long term jobs, save citizens and businesses money, and keep Michigan’s energy dollars at home.
Charles Griffith, Auto Project Director for the Ecology Center, pointed to significant recent investments in advanced automotive technologies for Michigan factories. “In the past 3 years, Detroit automakers have invested more than $5 billion to bring tomorrow’s technology to Michigan auto plants today, preserving good jobs at good wages while also improving fuel economy. But we can’t afford to rest on our laurels while other states and countries are doing their best to attract that business away from us.”
“Re-tooling our auto industry to produce cleaner, greener vehicles has to be part of any comprehensive energy and jobs strategy for Michigan,” said Nadine Nosal, legislative coordinator for the UAW in the state of Michigan.
According to a report released last week by the Apollo Alliance, the recently-introduced federal Clean Edge Act could create over 29,000 jobs in Michigan, putting Michigan among the top three states for new job growth. The Clean Edge Act promotes increased use of biofuels and renewable energy, and requires more cars to be flex fuel capable.
The Michigan Apollo Alliance leaders conducted a briefing for state legislators on Thursday morning, and sent a letter outlining their proposals to all Michigan legislators, the Governor, and members of Congress.
About the Apollo Alliance: The Apollo Alliance aims to end America’s dependence on foreign oil and create millions of high wage jobs. Inspired by President Kennedy’s original Apollo mission, it has been endorsed by 23 labor unions, the nation’s leading environmental groups and a growing number of business leaders. The Michigan Apollo Alliance is led by the state’s leading labor unions and environmental groups and is working on policies to create good jobs and energy independence.
Member organizations in Michigan include: Clean Water Action-Michigan, Ecology Center, Environment Michigan, Michigan Environmental Council, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, National Wildlife Federation, PIRGIM, International Association of Machinists, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers #17, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers #58, International Union of Operating Engineers, Michigan AFL-CIO, Michigan State Building Trades Council, International Union, UAW.
Michigan Apollo Spokespeople:
Ken Fletcher, Michigan AFL-CIO: 517-487-5966
Charles Griffith, Ecology Center: 734-663-2400 x116
Zoe Lipman, National Wildlife Federation: 734-516-9616Nadine Nosal, International Union, UAW: 517-372-7576