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Report: Appalachia Climate Plan Means PA Jobs


Wednesday, February 3, 2021   

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Fighting climate change could be key to rebuilding the Pennsylvania workforce that's been devastated by the COVID pandemic, a new report says.

The Keystone State has lost a half-million jobs in the past year.

According to the report from the Political Economy Research Institute, following the "ReImagine Appalachia Blueprint" would create thousands of jobs and make it possible to meet the goal of a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.

Report co-author Bob Pollin, the institute's co-director, said the job creation would be driven by investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy, as well as rebuilding and repairing damage from the past.

"If you combine the programs, the clean energy and the land restoration, agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing," he said, "we're looking at about 240,000 to 250,000 jobs."

He added that the blueprint would drive federal resources to some of the most economically depressed parts of the state, creating good, union jobs with strong wages and benefits.

Rob Bair, business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers' Local 143, noted that the plan will require significant public and private investment. He predicted that with state and federal support, Pennsylvania can become a national leader in green energy.

"We can create careers. We can create manufacturing. We can bring the economy of Pennsylvania back to where it was in its heyday," he said. "And we can do this and save the environment."

He pointed out that executive orders issued by the Biden administration support many of the policies included in the ReImagine Appalachia Blueprint.

Pollin acknowledged that the shift to clean energy would displace about 2,000 workers from fossil-fuel industries in the state each year. So, the report also focused on making sure they and their communities get a fair transition to a cleaner economy.

"We have to guarantee pensions, health-care coverage, guarantee re-employ them, guarantee the job will pay what they had been getting in the fossil-fuel industry," he said.

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