Opinion: Representative Crow, #Colorado AFL-CIO chief Dennis Dougherty: How #Congress can put Coloradans back to work and curb the #climatecrisis

Boulder County Solar Contractor Residential Commerical. Photo credit: Flatiron Solar

Here’s a guest column from Jason Crow and Dennis Dougherty that’s running in The Colorado Sun:

The American Jobs Plan will help Colorado create tens of thousands of good-paying, clean energy, union jobs, and move us past the worst consequences of climate change.

It’s time for our government to work for all of us, not just the rich and powerful.

Ahead of the July 4 congressional recess, our elected leaders can get it right by tackling two related priorities — getting Coloradans back to work in good union jobs and addressing climate change.

The good news is we can accomplish both with the American Jobs Plan, which would invest in updating and modernizing Colorado’s infrastructure and create good-paying, clean energy union jobs while funding training and apprenticeship programs.

The plan fits our state’s exact challenges, putting us back to work in the very act of creating a 21st century clean economy to curb climate change.

The lack of good jobs and global climate change are urgent problems. This year, wildfire season has already started – and local officials now say Coloradans should prepare for wildfires all year, not just during the summer season. These wildfires are not part of a healthy environmental cycle but will destroy homes and lives.

At the same time, thousands of Coloradans are still out of work from the aftershocks of COVID-19. Every day, families write into both of our offices, wondering when jobs will come back? When will we receive meaningful economic recovery from COVID-19? What will happen with the planned closure of so many fossil fuel and coal-fired power plants?

In our eyes, the answer is clear: we must fight for the passage of the American Jobs Plan, which would bring tens of thousands of good-paying, union jobs to Colorado by bolstering our growing clean energy economy. The jobs created by the plan will allow us to fight against climate change and safeguard our state’s natural beauty while rebuilding our economy.

As society has changed and developed, so too has the definition of infrastructure. Our investment must match that new breadth.

For example, as consumers and automakers shift toward electric vehicles, we must build charging infrastructure. That means good clean energy jobs. We must also update and retrofit municipal buildings like schools and hospitals to be resilient and energy efficient. That means even more jobs. There are many more examples.

Infrastructure investments can also help mitigate the destruction from increasingly dangerous wildfires driven by climate change. Upgrading water management systems will enable us to better manage drought conditions that fuel fires, while rebuilding with different materials can reduce ignition risk, protecting our homes and businesses. All these infrastructure upgrades require workers.

President Biden’s American Jobs Plan also includes the Outdoor Restoration Partnership Act, which is a bipartisan piece of legislation introduced by Rep. Crow and Sen. Michael Bennet. It will create and sustain 2 million jobs by supporting locally led forest health and watershed restoration projects.

The American Jobs Plan is about making investments in workers while simultaneously fighting climate change and robust training and apprenticeship programs must be a part of the plan. These programs will equip our workers to lead in the modern economy.

As the representative for Colorado’s 6th Congressional District, a proud member of the House Small Business Committee, and chairman of the Innovation, Workforce Development and Entrepreneurship Subcommittee; and as the executive director of the Colorado AFL-CIO, we are laser-focused on this momentous opportunity to rebuild our state the right way to adequately solve the crises we face.

The American Jobs Plan will help Colorado create tens of thousands of good-paying, clean energy, union jobs, and move us past the worst consequences of climate change. At an inflection point for economic recovery such as this one, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

We urge our colleagues in Washington to pass this bill, and we thank our friends in the Colorado labor movement for being our partners in this work.

Jason Crow, D-Centennial, represents Colorado’s 6th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Dennis Dougherty is the executive director of the Colorado AFL-CIO.

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