Washington, DC, April 9, 2003 — The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers recently welcomed the Senate’s interest in multi-emissions legislation designed to better protect America’s environment, and the good jobs that go hand in hand in achieving this objective.
Through prudent multi-emissions legislation, Congress is capable of making vast strides in achieving better than 70 percent reductions in nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and mercury emissions from power plants. The IBEW believes all Americans should applaud progress on energy and the environment, which creates and sustains jobs while helping to assure energy security.
If regulated properly, Americans can preserve a diversity of fuel choices to drive our energy-demanding economy forward. Domestically plentiful coal remains our nation’s largest and least expensive fuel source. The IBEW believes emission reductions of this magnitude, if implemented over a reasonable timetable, can significantly cut pollutants, help our environment, and preserve a meaningful role for coal-fired generation.
Thousands of highly skilled union jobs are intricately tied to the viability of the coal industry. Much of America’s eastern coal is mined by the United Mine Workers of America and transported by rail or barge to power plants.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, Transportation-Communications International Union and United Transportation Union transport the coal in exceptionally efficient unit trains. That coal is combusted in stationary source power plants, the majority of which are represented by the IBEW or other unionized utility workers.
Many of these facilities are now fitted with sophisticated emissions control devices, often built and maintained by the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers, and by other members of the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department. These large, complex facilities are likely to be fabricated of steel forged by the United Steelworkers of America.
To be viable, multi-emissions legislation must respect and preserve many thousands of good jobs. These jobs are necessary to help lift our stagnating economy and keep the lights on — both in the halls of industry and over the kitchen tables at home. While 70 percent reductions in key pollutants can do this, reductions that exceed technical bounds could drive a dagger into the coal industry and related jobs.
As consideration of multi-emissions legislation begins in earnest, the IBEW urges the Senate to ensure that cuts in sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury are balanced with a reasonable timeline for implementation. The viability of America’s largest fuel source and a multitude of American jobs are at stake through this legislation.
Founded in 1891, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is a 775,000-member union representing workers in utilities, construction, telecommunications, manufacturing, broadcasting, railroads and government.