CLIMATE:

Enviro-labor coalitions launch ads for cap and trade

Two coalitions of environmentalists and labor interests launched advertising campaigns this week calling for passage of climate legislation, saying it would spur job creation in manufacturing areas hit hard by the economic downturn.

The campaigns mark the first major push this year for a cap-and-trade bill and highlight the alliance of green groups and labor unions on climate.

The first series of ads is funded by Environmental Defense Action Fund, United Steelworkers and the Blue Green Alliance and is airing in the District of Columbia, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. The campaign features four separate television ads, along with print and online advertising, and will run through early May.

The ads feature Braddock, Pa., Mayor John Fetterman, who describes how the former steel town has been decimated by job losses and could recover with increased development of components for alternative energy technologies.

"We need a cap on carbon pollution. It will create jobs, making things like solar panels and wind turbines," Fetterman says, as images of the town and recently laid-off steel workers appear.

The 30-second ads end with the tagline "carbon caps = hard hats."

Meanwhile, the Blue Green Alliance, a coalition of the Sierra Club and the Steelworkers Union and other groups, launched a largely similar campaign that will also run in a few Midwestern states. Those ads, likewise, feature workers touting the benefits of green jobs that could be created by "strong climate legislation."

"The old argument is that 'Well, we can clean up the environment, but a bunch of people are going to be out of work,'" one worker says. "Well, that argument doesn't hold water anymore."

Though the campaigns use a familiar environmental message -- namely, that a price on carbon will spur an economic revival in many regions -- they are airing at the start of a congressional debate in which cap-and-trade opponents are claiming that climate regulations will raise costs for consumers and drive more jobs overseas.

The ads make no mention of environmental reasons for a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions, focusing only on economic benefits.

And while the ads started airing before President Obama gave his highly publicized speech on the economy at Georgetown University today, his message on climate closely resembled that of the ad campaigns (Greenwire, April 14).

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