A Plan For Economic Renewal - Sierra Club

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Millions of Good Jobs:A Plan for Economic Renewal

Millions of Good Jobs:A Plan for Economic RenewalTable of ContentsExecutive Summary . .2Economy-Wide Investments . . 3Cross-Cutting Environmental, Labor, and Equity Standards . . 6Specific Investments 7Support Clean Energy Workers .8Clean Transportation for All . 9Clean Buildings 10Manufacturing Renewal . 11Clean Water for All .12Pollution-Free Communities, Lands, and Parks .13Acknowledgments: This report was written by Ben Beachy, Director of Sierra Club’s Living Economy program. The jobcreation estimates were produced by Robert Pollin, Distinguished University Professor of Economics and Co-Director ofthe Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Shouvik Chakraborty,Assistant Research Professor at PERI. The job creation estimates can be found in a PERI report, “Job Creation EstimatesThrough Proposed Economic Stimulus Measures.” Published in May 2020.1

Executive SummaryTens of millions of people are out of work as unemployment approaches Great Depression levels. One in three familieswith children cannot afford adequate food. Three million small businesses expect to close their doors permanently. Thisis the reality of the economic crisis spurred by COVID-19.To tackle this economic crisis, we cannot follow the Trump fantasy – simply reopen the economy and hope things returnto “normal.” “Normal” was fundamentally unjust, unhealthy, and unstable. Thanks to “normal” conditions, millions ofpeople breathe in air pollution that increases the risks of COVID-19, earn as much in one year as Jeff Bezos makes in 20seconds, and are forced to grapple with increasing climate-related storms, droughts, and fires.We have to do better than “normal.” We need to put millions of people back to work building a healthier, moreequitable, clean energy economy that leaves no one behind. Congress has the power to do just that, by passing aforward-looking stimulus plan focused on not just rebuilding, but renewal.A new economic analysis from the Political Economy Research Institute reveals the path forward – with a bold stimulusplan, we could provide family-sustaining jobs for over 9 million people every year for the next 10 years while buildingan economy that fosters cleaner air and water, higher wages, healthier communities, greater equity, and a more stableclimate. That includes supporting over 1 million manufacturing jobs each year. Here’s the sectoral breakdown of the 9million jobs per year: 4.6 million jobs per year to upgrade our infrastructure for clean water, clean transportation, and clean energy; 3.2 million jobs per year to expand renewable energy; Over 700,000 jobs per year to increase energy efficiency; and Over 500,000 jobs per year to restore our lands and invest in regenerative agriculture.This economic renewal plan would help us simultaneously tackle the multiple, mutually reinforcing crises that we face:public health, joblessness, inequity, and climate change. It would reduce the air pollution that is exacerbating COVID-19risks, particularly in communities of color. It would counteract the gross levels of inequity that the COVID crisis hasmagnified by ensuring that those hardest hit get priority access to economic and environmental benefits. While puttingpeople back to work, this plan also would put the U.S. on a path to climate sanity by enabling a 45 percent reduction inour climate pollution by 2030, in line with targets set by climate scientists. Here are a few specific examples: To bolster our transition to a 100% clean energy economy, stimulus investments could help many of the600,000 unemployed clean energy workers get their jobs back, while over 190,000 unemployed oil and gasworkers could be employed each year to close orphaned oil and gas wells. A program to exchange gas guzzlers for affordable, clean electric vehicles would yield over 635,000 jobs eachyear – nearly the entire population of Detroit – including over 77,000 good manufacturing jobs to produce thevehicles and components. Nearly 400,000 workers could be employed annually to upgrade every public housing unit, school, hospital, andmunicipal building in the nation to support healthier living conditions, lower energy bills, and reduced pollution. Over 350,000 workers could be employed each year to replace lead pipes and secure clean drinking water. Over 225,000 people could be employed each year to protect our wetlands and forests and shield communitiesfrom toxic pollution by restoring depleted ecosystems and polluted Superfund, Brownfield, and coal mine sites.To employ over 9 million people every year for five years, this stimulus plan would cost less than 2.9 trillion. That is lessthan half the amount that the U.S. government committed in coronavirus spending in just March and April. With thecost of borrowing at rock bottom, this is a small price to pay to offer economic security to millions of unemployedpeople while charting a path toward a society that is healthier, more just, and less prone to crisis.2

Economy-Wide InvestmentsEconomic Renewal Plan: Over 9 Million Good Jobs Each YearThe Problem: Due to the COVID-spurred crises of mass unemployment and public health, millions of people currently lieawake at night wondering how to make rent, put food on the table, or afford medical bills. The pandemic also has laidbare the links between the longstanding, mutually reinforcing crises that our society faces, such as racial and economicinjustice, economic insecurity, toxic pollution, health vulnerability, crumbling infrastructure, and climate change.For example, thanks to decades of racial injustice and inadequate investment in clean energy infrastructure,communities of color face disproportionate exposure to fossil fuel pollution. Today, this pollution is subjectingcommunities of color to increased risk of death from COVID-19, while also contributing to the climate crisis.As another example, millions of people live in substandard andovercrowded housing that makes it difficult to shelter at home toprevent COVID infection – a problem exacerbated by chronicunderinvestment in buildings infrastructure and the racist practiceof redlining. Meanwhile, the low energy efficiency of these buildingssaddles low-income families with high energy bills that exacerbateincome inequity, while contributing to the climate pollution that isfeeding increasingly intense storms – storms that the samesubstandard buildings are not equipped to withstand. Ourinterconnected problems require holistic solutions.The Solution: We cannot and need not choose between addressingjob creation or climate change, public health or racial inequity, toxicpollution or crumbling infrastructure. All of these are false choices.With a holistic economic renewal plan, we can put millions of peopleback to work while tackle today’s overlapping crises simultaneously.Hiring workers to upgrade our water, energy, and transportationinfrastructure, for example, would support cleaner air and water,and thus, improved public health, for millions of people – particularlyfor communities of color and working class families. It also woulddiminish climate pollution and increase climate resilience, whichcould support greater equity by reducing the disproportionateclimate threats that low-income families and communities of colorface.We can only achieve such comprehensive infrastructure upgrades bycreating millions of jobs. Properly designed, these jobs could raisewages for working class households, counteracting incomeinequality. To tackle our concurrent crises, we need such a holisticeconomic renewal plan – one that puts millions of people back towork while building a healthier, more equitable, clean energyeconomy.3

The Jobs: A new economic analysis from the Political Economy Research Institute shows that a holistic economicrenewal plan would provide 9.1 million good jobs every year for 10 years. The plan includes economy-wide publicinvestments totaling 580 billion per year, or 2.9 trillion for the first five years. The plan has two primary components: 4.6 million jobs per year to upgrade our infrastructure: This economic renewal plan starts with a much-neededinfrastructure upgrade. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) currently gives an overall grade of “D ”to our ailing transportation, energy, water, and natural infrastructure. ASCE estimates that upgrading ourinfrastructure to a “B” grade would take a public investment of 2 trillion over 10 years. With additionalupgrades (e.g., expanding broadband access and fixing leaking gas pipes), the total infrastructure investmentbecomes 2.6 trillion over 10 years. These upgrades would support improved health, climate, equity, and jobsoutcomes, as spelled out above and in the specific investments detailed in the following sector-by-sectordescriptions. 4.5 million jobs per year to transition to a clean energyeconomy: The second component of the economic renewalplan is a comprehensive investment to meet science-basedtargets for reducing climate pollution, because our responseto one crisis must not leave us vulnerable to another. Thisinvestment includes expanding renewable energy,increasing energy efficiency, restoring our land, andinvesting in regenerative agriculture. A 3.2 trillion publicinvestment over 10 years in these sectors, when coupledwith an equal amount of private investment, would yield anestimated 45 percent reduction in U.S. carbon emissions by2030, in line with the global emissions reductions goalestablished by the Intergovernmental Panel on ClimateChange. This investment covers three areas: A 2.4 trillion investment over 10 years inrenewable energy, providing 3.2 million jobs peryear, A 0.5 trillion investment over 10 years in energyefficiency, providing 0.7 million jobs per year, and A 0.3 trillion investment over 10 years in landrestoration and regenerative agriculture, providing0.5 million jobs per year. Of the 9.1 million total jobs offered each year by thiseconomic renewal plan, 1.1 million jobs per year would bein the manufacturing sector. This manufacturing growthwould support greater income equity, as manufacturingjobs tend to pay higher wages than construction or servicesector jobs and union density in the manufacturing sector ishigher than in the private sector overall.Below is a breakdown of the 21 categories of investment included inthis economic renewal plan, with the dollars invested and jobscreated for each category, as reflected in the modeling conductedby the Political Economy Research Institute.4

SectorAnnualinvestment(billions USD)10-yearinvestmentJobsper year(billions USD)Total job yearsover 10 yearsInfrastructure: 4.6 million jobs per yearSurface ,8501771,858,500Airports4.242,84042428,400Inland waterways / marine dous and solid c parks and 4,800Schools38790,4003807,904,000Gas pipelines leak 03,535,000Renewable energy: 3.2 million jobs per ergy efficiency: 0.7 million jobs per yearBuilding retrofits37.5573,7503755,737,500Industrial efficiency6.25100,62562.51,006,250High-efficiency autos6.2553,75062.5537,500Land and agriculture: 0.5 million jobs per yearLand 002003,800,000TOTAL579.69,061,6155,79690,616,1505

Cross-Cutting Environmental, Labor, and Equity StandardsThe quality of the jobs created through this economic renewal plan is just as important as the quantity of jobs. Stimulusinvestments must be subject to high-road labor standards to ensure that the jobs created are family-sustaining careersthat offer workers a dignified and meaningful livelihood and lasting economic security. To chart a path to a moreequitable society, these jobs must be made accessible to all people. In addition, equitable hiring practices and targetedinvestments must be used to prioritize job creation, improved health outcomes, and environmental benefits for lowincome communities, communities of color, and others who are bearing the brunt of the economic, health, and climatecrises. Finally, to yield a healthier and more stable future, stimulus investments also must address climate change andtoxic pollution. The materials, operations, and end use of projects must uphold environmental standards that reducepollution and increase climate resilience for communities.All investments in this economic renewal plan must uphold the following environmental, labor, and equity standards.Climate and Environmental Standards Investments should meet a baseline climate and environmental test. To qualify for funding, projects shoulddemonstrate that their use will support reduced greenhouse gases, reduced toxic pollution, and/or increasedclimate resilience. The materials and parts used should be subject to Buy Clean standards that reduce industrial pollution, climateresilience standards, and energy efficiency standards (as applicable). All construction and related contracts should include requirements to use climate-resilient designs forinfrastructure and low-emissions operations.Labor Standards All construction and related contracts should include requirements for Davis Bacon prevailing wages, projectlabor agreements, a neutrality policy on collective bargaining, and use of registered apprenticeship programs; inaddition to preferences for local hire, community-based businesses, and worker cooperatives. The materials and parts used should be subject to Buy America and other domestic content policies to supportmanufacturing job creation.Equity Standards At least 40 percent of infrastructure spending should be invested in low-income communities, communities ofcolor, and communities facing disproportionate impacts from the COVID-19 crisis and/or climate change. The share of infrastructure funding that goes to the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and all U.S. territoriesshould be at least proportional to the population of these jurisdictions. All construction and related contracts should require community benefit agreements; a mandatory “ban thebox” policy to ensure fair employment opportunities for all; hiring preferences for low-income workers, peopleof color, people with disabilities, and returning citizens; and contracting preferences for businesses led bywomen and people of color. All jobs created should be accessible to undocumented immigrants and paired with a moratorium ondeportations and a path to citizenship for those workers.6

Specific InvestmentsIn addition to modeling job creation from economy-wide investments, the Political Economy Research Institute modeledthe number of jobs that would be created for investments in 39 specific programs that many labor, environmentaljustice, climate, and other civil society groups have proposed for an economic renewal plan. Sierra Club's April 2020letter to Congress on stimulus priorities describes most of these programs, with dollar amounts named for each. Foreach investment, the analysis from the Political Economy Research Institute estimates the total number of jobs(including the number of manufacturing jobs) that would be created. These programs fall into six sectors: energy,transportation, buildings, manufacturing, water, and lands/outdoors. The investments in these programs would putmillions of people back to work to replace lead pipes, build clean and affordable public transit, modernize our grid, buildand repair public housing, manufacture clean energy goods, clean up hazardous waste, restore wetlands and forests,and more. Below are some illustrative examples for each of the six sectors.7

Support Clean Energy Workers: Over 600,000 Good Jobs Each YearThe Problem: Since the COVID pandemic began, nearly 600,000 clean energy workers have lost their jobs. Before thepandemic, clean energy was one of the fastest-growing sectors in the economy, employing more than 3 million workers.Growth in wind and solar power and energy efficiency has been supporting more and more working families, whilepromoting cleaner air and water and slashing climate pollution. However, the COVID crisis has brought hardship to manyclean energy workers, as made clear in an analysis by E2: “Energy efficiency workers are losing their jobs after being shutout of homes and buildings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Solar and wind turbine companies are laying offworkers as they’re unable to access panels and parts stranded in shut-down factories and as financing disappears.” Totackle this crisis, clean energy workers need economic investment.The Solution: We urgently need to support clean energyworkers by investing in the transition to a 100% clean energyeconomy. That means expanding tax incentives for wind,solar, battery storage, and other clean energy industries. Itmeans extending loans and grants to launch new renewableenergy projects, to connect remote sources of wind and solarto our electricity grid, and to modernize the grid forreductions in energy costs and climate pollution. Whilesupporting jobs for hundreds of thousands of clean energyworkers, we also could hire unemployed oil and gas workersto close orphaned and leaking oil and gas wells – a win-win forworking families and our climate.The Jobs: Essential investments in clean energy, as detailedbelow, would provide over 647,000 good jobs per year. Thatincludes over 61,000 manufacturing jobs per year. Click herefor an economic analysis from the Political Economy ResearchInstitute with a table (pg. 13) that details job creationestimates for these clean energy investments.What Congress Needs to Do: Provide nearly 100,000 jobs per year by extending clean energy tax credits: Congress needs to invest 41.5billion over five years to extend tax credits for wind, solar, battery storage, energy efficiency, and other cleanenergy sectors, helping to put nearly 100,000 clean energy workers back to work each year. To further supportclean energy, existing tax credits should be made refundable and construction and safe harbor deadlines shouldbe extended. Provide over 83,000 jobs per year with a new National Climate Bank: Congress needs to pass and fully fund theNational Climate Bank Act, including 30 billion for the first five years. This would offer financial backing toshovel-ready clean energy, energy storage, and transmission projects facing financial uncertainty due to theimpacts of the COVID crisis. Provide over 190,000 jobs per year by closing orphaned oil and gas wells: Congress needs to invest 60 billionover five years to close over 3 million orphaned and leaking oil and gas wells, relieving a burden that currentlyfalls largely on states. This investment would support unemployed workers in the oil and gas industry whilereducing pollution. And more.for a complete list of clean energy investments, see Sierra Club’s letter to Congress that outlinesspecific priorities for a bold stimulus package that puts millions of people back to work to build a healthier, moreequitable, clean energy economy.8

Clean Transportation for All: Over 1 Million Good Jobs Each YearThe Problem: The transportation sector is a major source of air pollution that contributes to asthma, cancer, and anincreased likelihood of death from COVID-19, particularly for communities of color who are disproportionately exposedto such pollution. In addition, the

The Jobs: A new economic analysis from the Political Economy Research Institute shows that a holistic economic renewal plan would provide 9.1 million good jobs every year for 10 years. The plan includes economy-wide public investments totaling 580 billion per year, or 2.9 trillion for the first five years. The plan has two primary components:

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