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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE06/29/2006
Michigan Labor And Environmental Leaders Join Forces To Fight For Energy Independence
LANSING, MICH. -- With Independence Day approaching, Michigan labor unions and environmental groups joined forces today to launch a new coalition to end America’s dependence on foreign oil.
The groups, organized as the Michigan Apollo Alliance, believe a major initiative to develop renewable energy, homegrown biofuels and advanced automotive technologies is needed to end Michigan’s dependence on imported energy and to take advantage of the state’s skilled workforce and manufacturing base, while restoring Michigan’s natural heritage.
“We’re joining together because Michigan workers, citizens and consumers need a voice in creating smart policies which protect jobs and protect the environment at the same time,” said Mark Gaffney, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “Building new alternative energy technologies requires the skills Michigan workers have gained as one of the nation’s leading manufacturing states.”
The National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Office director Andy Buchsbaum said the Michigan Apollo Alliance is focused on investing in the state’s workers and its economy.
“Michigan spends $20 billion a year buying energy from outside the state and outside the country,” said Buchsbaum. “Our message is simple. Why not spend as much of that money as we can here in Michigan, putting Michigan workers on the job creating clean and efficient energy sources that protect our environment?”
To create jobs and enhance Michigan’s energy options, the Alliance released a letter to Michigan legislators and the governor calling for a Renewable Portfolio Standard as part of the state’s 21st Century Energy Strategy. The groups applauded the governor’s recent Executive Directive calling for the Public Service Commission to develop a new state energy plan, including a new renewable energy standard, as well as efforts in the Legislature focused on energy policy. The Alliance argued that this standard should maximize job opportunities for Michigan manufacturing and installation businesses and explore incentives for encouraging energy efficiency and renewable energy projects within the state. "We can't afford to let other states get the jump on us when it comes to emerging technologies like wind turbines or solar power," said Lisa Wozniak, Executive Director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. "It's time Michigan declares our energy independence, and supports policies that will develop whole new technologies that can improve our environment -- and that also create good-paying jobs in manufacturing, construction, installation and other related areas."
The Michigan effort is part of the national Apollo Alliance, an effort inspired by President Kennedy’s Apollo mission, which seeks to end America’s dependence on foreign oil within a decade. The Apollo Alliance’s plan would spur the creation of 3 million new jobs, many of which would be in the manufacturing and construction sectors, traditionally high wage industries critical to Michigan’s economy.
UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said other parts of the Alliance’s agenda will include development of locally-grown biofuels and advanced automotive technologies.
“Re-tooling our auto industry to produce cleaner, greener vehicles has to be part of any comprehensive energy and jobs strategy for Michigan,” said Gettelfinger. “The Apollo Alliance is breaking important new ground, by recognizing that workers are part of the environment, and advocating for high-skill, high-quality jobs as an essential part of a clean energy agenda.”
Michigan Apollo Alliance member organizations include:
--Clean Water Action-Michigan--Ecology Center--Environment Michigan--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 Environmental Council--Michigan League of Conservation Voters--Michigan State Building Trades Council--National Wildlife Federation--PIRGIM--United Auto Workers.
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**NOTE: An electronic copy of the letter sent to Michigan lawmakers is available at http://www.apolloalliance.org/michiganapollo.cfm**