With the ultimate goal of securing strong climate legislation that will create jobs, dozens of company executives joined union leaders, youth organizations and Congressman Earl Blumenauer at Nike Headquarters on Feb. 16 to kickoff the Race for American Jobs & Clean Energy Leadership. The campaign is a coast-to-coast virtual race to drive home the economic benefits of national climate and energy legislation.
Sponsored by We Can Lead, the campaign aims to collect hundreds of business leader endorsements as it crosses the country making the case that strong climate policies are urgently needed to create jobs, promote technological innovation and boost energy independence -- and that the Senate must act now on stalled legislation. Additional race stops are planned for Colorado, Ohio, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C. over the next 3 weeks.
"We believe that building sustainable business practices will help fuel the economy and the environment," said Sarah Severn, Director of Stakeholder Mobilization for Nike, Inc. "The time to act is now. The U.S. needs legislation that gives clean energy entrepreneurs an even playing field to compete globally for innovation and job creation."
Comprehensive climate and energy policies such as those in the proposed Senate legislation could create up to 26,000 jobs in Oregon from 2010 to 2020, while increasing annual household income by $399-$941, and growing the state economy by $1.4 billion, according to a recent study by the University of California. At the national level up to 1.7 million new jobs could be created, while GDP could be boosted by $39-$111 billion.
Two Northwest business leaders spotlighted at the event spoke about the jobs they are creating by tackling environmental challenges. "At United Streetcar, we recognize the climate challenge and have already begun to respond and innovate through the manufacturing of our zero-emission modern streetcars," said Chandra Brown, President of United Streetcar. "As a result we are providing hundreds of good-paying jobs both here in Oregon and across this great country through our many suppliers."
United Streetcar is poised for accelerated job growth due to a recent rules change in federal transit funding that will direct more money to public transportation projects that promote livability and reduce driving.
Mark Edlen, Managing Principal of the green building developer Gerding Edlen, said that his business could also provide many more jobs with the right federal policies."Retrofitting existing buildings to make them more energy, water and waste efficient creates jobs across the economic spectrum, from the laborers doing the demolition, to the architects, to the financial experts handling the financing," he said. "With sound climate and energy policies that put a price on carbon we could create substantially more of these jobs, and reap far greater energy savings and emissions reductions from buildings."
"Climate change deserves our immediate and unswerving attention," said Jim Hanna, Starbucks Director of Environmental Impact. "The sooner we develop national climate policies, the better equipped we'll be to compete in the global race for clean energy and create new jobs here at home."
Congressman Earl Blumenauer urged his colleagues to heed the business leaders' appeal. "Global warming is the greatest challenge this generation faces. We cannot afford inaction, and Congress must pass legislation now that helps rein in pollution, puts America on the path to a clean energy future, and invests in renewable energy infrastructure and job creation. Through initiatives like Race for American Jobs, companies like Nike are setting the bar, and it is past time for Washington to join them."
The dozens of Northwest clean energy entrepreneurs who gathered for the kickoff event demonstrated their support for clean energy innovation and job creation by signing a custom-made baton that will be passed between each leg of the race. We Can Lead will continue to collect signatures on the baton as the race crosses the country. Business leaders will deliver the baton to Congress on March 10 and hold policy meetings with U.S. Senators and the Obama Administration.
Race events are planned for the following dates and locations:
- February 24, Denver, Colorado
- March 4, Columbus, Ohio
- March 9, Manchester, New Hampshire
- March 10, Washington D.C.
Additional information about the upcoming events will be posted at http://www.wecanlead.org/race