January 15, 2021
 
Sen. Brown joins ReImagine Appalachia to discuss potential of clean manufacturing to create good jobs and tackle climate change

Columbus, OH: Senator Brown joined a panel of experts, activists and business owners to discuss the role of clean manufacturing in tackling climate change while creating good jobs in the Appalachian region. 

“Ohio workers are the best in the world at what they do, and if given the opportunity, can be at the forefront of advancing our manufacturing industry in a way that dramatically reduces carbon emissions, and grows the economy and creates more jobs in Appalachia and across the state,” the Senator stated. 
Speakers addressed the potential of key technologies, including Combined Heat and Power (CHP), electric vehicles, solar batteries and converting former power plants and steel facilities into eco industrial parks. The panel also noted that investing in manufacturing and infrastructure needs to be at the lead of the climate agenda, especially to serve as a mechanism for renewal in regions such as Appalachia, which have been hard hit by our nation’s changing energy portfolio.
Amanda Woodrum, of Policy Matters Ohio, discussed recent reports by ReImagine Appalachia.  Jobs reports, created with the PERI institute, detailed how investments in modernizing manufacturing could create 34,430 jobs in Pennsylvania and Ohio alone.  The group’s whitepaper titled “Growing Clean and Efficient Manufacturing” showed that by supporting energy efficiency measures, and retooling the region’s existing infrastructure like old coal-fired power plants, federal policymakers can create good jobs for Appalachians, of all races and genders – especially those who worked in fossil fuels.
 
“Downturns in the economy spur changes in approach, with companies investigating options to streamline. Industrial energy efficiency measures can cut costs and often increase plant capacity for expanded production in the future,” Woodrum said. “It is a good time for federal leaders to help manufacturers invest to become cleaner and more energy efficient, so they can come out of this recession ready to compete in the global marketplace.”
Speakers also touched on apprenticeship programs and other policies designed to ensure that these initiatives create good union jobs and genuine opportunities for workers. 
“This is a once in a generation opportunity to match skilled union labor with the renewable energy industry to ensure real economic growth for communities and working families,” shared Rob Dorans, Legal Counsel with Affiliated Construction Trades of Ohio (ACT Ohio), a labor affiliated non-profit. “We’ve seen over the past decade the cost of renewable energy fall, while at the same time initiatives at every level of government and in the private sector have prioritized the use of renewable energy. Building Trades unions here in Ohio and across the country have world class training facilities and hundreds of thousands of members that are ready to help build the renewable energy economy of today and tomorrow.”
Sara Daugherty, Director of Operations for BRITE Energy Innovators, joined the panel to speak to the challenges and opportunities to grow energy storage in Appalachia. “During the pandemic, we saw a quadruple increase in requests for incubation and commercialization support. Harnessing innovation, R&D investment, rare mineral supply chains to ensure domestic production are conversations needed for clean manufacturing jobs. Lack of federal investment hinders communities from adopting energy production and storage solutions that can provide resiliency and access to the new economy.”

A full list of speakers included: 

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Amanda Woodrum, Policy Matters Ohio
Cliff Haefke and Graeme Miller, Department of Energy, CHP Technical Assistance Partnership 
Kristin Dziczek, Center for Automotive Research & Advisor to Roosevelt Project 
Rob Dorans, Legal Counsel, Affiliated Construction Trades of Ohio (ACT Ohio)
Sara Daugherty, Director of Operations, BRITE Energy Innovators
Kristen Olmi, K.O. Consulting
Zoe Lipman, Director, Manufacturing & Adv Transportation, BlueGreen Alliance
Moderator: Bishop Marcia Dinkins, Ohio Interfaith Power & Light

As ReImagine Appalachia’s recent studies have underscored, the industrial sector uses a third of the energy in Appalachia. For some industrial consumers, such as the chemical sector, energy can represent as much as 60 percent of total costs. With the right federal infrastructure investments and fair-trade policies, the region could become a 21st century manufacturing powerhouse. 

Last fall, the ReImagine Appalachia Coalition released a policy blueprint to create a vibrant region for all people, along with two studies showing that the ReImagine Appalachia blueprint could create nearly half a million high-quality jobs across Pennsylvania and Ohio alone. 
 
A link to view recording of the press conference on zoom is here 
 
Get more information on the coalition website: https://reimagineappalachia.org/
 
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Annie Regan

Author Annie Regan

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