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Steelworkers Call on Wisconsin to Get Into the Game on Clean Energy

April 10, 2008

Madison, WI – Steelworkers are teaming up with conservation groups to call for more clean energy production and manufacturing, in Wisconsin and around the country. Chuck Geiger is with the Blue-Green Alliance in Wisconsin, a partnership of the United Steelworkers, the Sierra Club, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. He's part of a six-month campaign that begins in a dozen states this week, to drum up support for clean energy production and related manufacturing.

The "Green Jobs for America" campaign targets areas that have lost factory jobs to outsourcing, but have potential for new employment in clean energy industries. Wisconsin's existing manufacturing base, says Geiger, makes the state a good candidate.

"If you manufacture gearboxes for paper machines, those exact same gearboxes may be able to go into a wind turbine. A lot of what we're focusing on not only are new jobs, but trying to retain the good jobs we already have."

Other states are already seizing the opportunity, according to Geiger, who cites a wind turbine plant in Pennsylvania that opened at the site of a closed steel plant, creating hundreds of jobs there.

"The other important part of that is those are all union jobs -- not only are they jobs, but they're jobs that can support a family, and that will hopefully be around for a long time. Success stories like that, we'd really like to repeat a thousand times over, here in Wisconsin."

In addition to the economic benefits for families and communities, Geiger explains, a boost in clean energy production would help clear up air pollution problems and global warming emissions, as well as increasing the nation's energy independence.

Rob Ferrett/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WI