The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement Calls on Congress to take a Moderate Approach on Proposed Federal Renewable Standards

May 6, 2009

Efforts in Achieving a Green Economy Should Balance with Jobs

WASHINGTON, May 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement today issued a letter to the members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the House Energy and Commerce Committee calling on Congress to ensure that any proposed federal renewable standards do not adversely affect Latino and Latina workers in the United States. In her letter, Dr. Gabriela Lemus, highlighted the potential unintended consequences RES legislation could have on workers in manufacturing. The full text of the letter is as follows:

Dear Member:

The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) represents the interests of approximately 1.7 million Latino trade unionists and their families throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. To that effect, LCLAA supports a new energy economy and capping greenhouse gas emissions overall. And, especially in these difficult economic times, our organization is also committed to protecting jobs in the Latino community.

While we understand the importance for reducing the nation’s dependency on foreign energy sources and relying on clean, renewable and domestic energy, we do have some concerns that we not incapacitate the economy further as we seek to address significant climate change issues. Whatever approach is taken needs to acknowledge protecting our health while creating a green economy and growing more jobs. This requires a delicate balance and policy makers must tread with caution on the issue. If we move too quickly or without taking into account where states are, we could lose more of our current manufacturing jobs than we would gain in new jobs.

A federal Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) that requires states to produce a set percentage of energy from renewable resources could potentially have a devastating effect on the manufacturing sector and could result in job losses – particularly in the Latino community. Although a laudable goal, an RES that requires states to produce 15 to 25 percent of their energy from renewable resources as soon as 2020 goes too, far too fast.

An unreasonable RES will drive up electricity costs because renewable resources cost more than fossil fuels and require expensive infrastructure to provide reliable power across our nation. These costs will be passed on to U.S. industry and consumers, making us less competitive in global markets as industry may be tempted to locate overseas where energy production may not have the same mandates. Because jobs go where costs are lowest, this will result in more jobs being driven overseas to countries that do not have stringent standards. The resulting job losses from the manufacturing sector could negate any potential gains created by “green jobs” investments.

This could have an unequal impact on Latino workers who are, in many cases, disproportionately impacted by the current economic recession. Many working class families end up spending a higher percentage of their income on energy costs relative to those in higher income brackets, even if they use less energy. The most vulnerable in our community will be hardest hit by an increase in energy costs.

Our prosperity as a nation and our national security rely on a strong manufacturing base. We need a combination of methods to reduce our carbon footprint and a structure that protects the livelihoods of Latino and Latina workers across the country. LCLAA firmly believes we need to thoughtfully moderate any proposed federal renewable standards to ensure we are not adversely impacting workers in our efforts to achieve a green economy.


Dr. Gabriela D. Lemus

Executive Director

The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, LCLAA is the home of the Latino Labor Movement. LCLAA is a national Latino organization representing the interests of over 1.7 million Latino trade unionists throughout the country and the Common Wealth of Puerto Rico. LCLAA was founded in 1973 and is America’s premier national organization for Latino workers and their families. LCLAA advocates for the rights of all workers seeking justice in the workplace and their communities. LCLAA is a constituency group representing Latino workers in both the AFL-CIO and Change to Win Federation.

SOURCE Labor Council for Latin American Advancement

Source: newswire

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