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9/30/2013 - John Harrity: Going green means jobs, too
The following Letter to the Editor appears in the Connecticut Post
During a career standing with working families, I've seen the devastating effects of shuttered businesses and communities damaged by events like extreme weather. After a life of working to build a family and a home, many of these families saw everything turned upside down by Superstorm Sandy, which climate change making storms like that more likely and more severe.
When extreme weather events hit, they can tear apart lives and leave them under water. But it's the weeks and months after, the time before people can go back to work and businesses can reopen, that leave many of the hardest-working people in our communities most vulnerable.
Communities often don't have the resources to insulate and protect themselves from the severity of this emerging crisis. When a working family goes without power for a week from a freak snowstorm, they aren't going to a hotel, no matter how cold it may be. When a dangerous heat wave hits, a retiree may not have the luxury of cranking the air conditioner. We can no longer watch as the effects of climate change further put our economy and our health at risk.
The good news is that addressing climate change isn't just reactionary; it can spur growth and revitalization right here in Connecticut.
A focus on energy efficiency and clean energy translates into jobs for the building trades, displaced workers and the young people who may have had to leave to look for work elsewhere. We don't need to look any further than Bridgeport as a shining example of this success.
The resulting policies and programs from Mayor Bill Finch's BGreen 2020 initiative have helped address climate change on the local level, save residents money and bring jobs into town. The new Eco-Technology Park is becoming a job-creating hub of green businesses that are leading the way in transforming waste into useful products and generating energy that is powering our region.
By taking on climate change, not only are we engaging in an essential battle for our future, but we are opening opportunities that could revive our state and national economy.
Thankfully we have the strong leadership of Gov. Dannel Malloy, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and the countless other elected officials who have taken note of the responsibility we have to our children and future generations to address climate change.
The president has also followed their lead with his recently unveiled Climate Action Plan, which includes the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants along with measures to strengthen our nation's infrastructure against the effects of climate change, and new investments in clean energy and energy efficiency.
The president's plan is a major step forward in protecting public health, spurring innovation in clean energy technologies that will create jobs, and reducing the extreme weather impacts of climate change on Bridgeport and other communities.
That is why so many of those communities spent the summer standing up and saying "I will act on climate," an effort you can learn more about at http://www.IWillAct.us/
Along with many states in our region, our state has made major strides in addressing our own contributions to climate change and is beginning to see the economic benefits of our action. But it will take national action to really address the dangerous carbon pollution that causes climate change and many loud voices from communities like ours to make it happen.
John Harrity is president of the Connecticut State Council of Machinists.