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Leo W. Gerard, international president of the United Steelworkers (USW), on April 16 praised the stand taken by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and nine other senators to ensure that manufacturing is made a centerpiece of any comprehensive energy and climate bill.
"The USW has long believed that ensuring a clean and prosperous planet for our children and rebuilding the American economy can and should go hand in hand," Gerard said. "To accomplish this, we must ensure that any energy and climate bill recognize the unique position of manufacturing industries and provide them the incentives and assistance necessary to lead America into the clean energy future."
The USW President cited the US Senators supporting this manufacturing issue as: Sens. Sherrod Brown, Carl Levin (D-Michigan), Arlen Specter (D-Pennsylvania), Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), Robert Casey (D-Pennsylvania), Mark Warner (D-Virginia), Kay Hagan (D-North Carolina), Evan Bayh (D-Indiana) and Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia).
These 10 senators on April 16 sent a letter to those crafting the upcoming Senate energy and climate bill – Senators John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut) – that lays out a bold, comprehensive program to ensure manufacturing is not unduly harmed by the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Gerard said, "The senators' letter touches on many issues critical to the success of an energy and climate bill. Among these is the need for a comprehensive anti-leakage package that consists of output-based allocations to energy-intensive, trade-exposed manufacturers backed up by an automatically-triggered border adjustment applied to products from countries that have not made the same commitment to reducing carbon emissions as the U.S."
The allocations will help manufacturers make a smooth transition to low-carbon processes without being put at a potentially disastrous price disadvantage. They must remain in place until such time as a strong international agreement has been reached, or until a certain border adjustment is activated.
The USW president added, "Still, these leakage provisions cannot fully meet the needs of manufacturers to retool and institute new, cleaner processes. This is why there is a critical need for these companies to obtain access to the capital necessary to make these improvements. Further, these investments will only take place if manufacturers can be confident of a market for their products, so it is crucial that wherever possible preferences be put in place to ensure domestic sourcing of clean energy products and the components that go into them.
"With the comprehensive program laid out by Senator Brown and the other senators, the dream of a clean energy economy developed and built in America by American workers can become a reality. We strongly urge Senators Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman to include these proposals in their bill and to fund them fully. Only through a comprehensive and fully-funded manufacturing program can an energy and climate bill be a success."
The United Steelworkers is North America's largest industrial union, representing 850,000 workers in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply, and the energy-producing industries. Since 1990, the USW has been a leader among international unions on the issue of climate change and was one of the first industrial unions to endorse a comprehensive climate change bill, while also being at the forefront of the debate.