Congressman DeSaulnier Introduces Landmark Legislation to Support Workers, Tackle Climate Change, Promote Clean Transportation, and Advance Affordable Housing

November 8, 2021
Press Release

Washington, DC — Today, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) announced the introduction of landmark legislation to help transition our economy off fossil fuels to cleaner, renewable energy while simultaneously supporting workers, communities, and state and local governments. The Jobs for a Carbon Free Transportation System Act (H.R. 5896) takes a unique approach to addressing the intersection of three of the biggest challenges our nation faces: climate change, outdated infrastructure, and job insecurity.

“We are on the precipice of change in the energy sector, and we have the opportunity to set the stage for green jobs that are both worthy of workers’ skills and that help our nation in the much-needed fight against climate change,” said Congressman DeSaulnier. “We also have the opportunity to re-envision America’s transportation system to make it greener, more reliable, and inter-connected, ensuring people can get to work, school, and essential services efficiently. This legislation can help make Contra Costa a model for the rest of the nation.”

H.R. 5896 would prioritize and invest in state-of-the-art transportation system reforms by creating federal grant programs and incentive structures that would enable states and localities to develop efficient, inter-connected, and reliable transit and support workers in a green jobs economy to ensure no one is left behind as we transition to clean energy. These initiatives would improve mobility and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by developing low-carbon, inter-connected, and smart transportation corridors all while creating good paying union jobs. The bill would also address the imminent market evolution to renewable, clean energy by providing direct support to local communities so they can convene industry, the local fossil fuel workforce whose jobs are at risk, environmental justice (EJ) advocates, and environmental groups to develop plans that would transition workers to meaningful, sustainable work. The market is inevitably moving to cheaper, more sustainable energy sources, and refinery workers across America will fall victim to joblessness if we do not act now. 

“I am proud to support Rep. DeSaulnier’s transition model that will support workers while also incentivizing the move toward clean energy. This bill is a critical step forward in using renewable energy right here in our community while also ensuring that workers have the opportunity for retraining and job opportunities in new industries. I am proud that our region can be an example in this important step toward tackling climate change and paving the way forward for green jobs,” said Congressman Mike Thompson.

“We welcome Congressman DeSaulnier’s bold effort since our county is on the front lines of the transition to cleaner energy. Given the plans of two Contra Costa refineries to end crude oil production and convert to the world’s largest renewable fuels plants, we need to ensure our workers and local economy are not left behind and that residents in communities which bear the burden of pollution benefit from the transition to clean energy,” said Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia (from Richmond).

“Contra Costa County is one of the first counties to consider how best to transition our economy away from fossil fuels. We welcome leadership and assistance from the Federal government as we develop plans to help workers, bolster our economy, and support communities that have historically been the most impacted by fossil fuel emissions,” said Contra Costa County Administrator Monica Nino.

“As we transition to clean fuels and high-tech energy to protect our planet, we have the opportunity to also empower workers, particularly those within historically-marginalized communities, by investing in their training and education. I’m looking forward to my continued partnership with Congressman DeSaulnier to capitalize on this crucial opportunity to help Contra Costa become a leader in fighting climate change and supporting the growth and retention of living wage jobs, and I commend the Congressman on introducing this innovative legislation,” said California Assemblymember Tim Grayson.

“The effects of climate change cannot be ignored, nor should the concerns of workers. The future of work in the green economy can not be a race to the bottom in terms of labor standards and not having a voice at work. Contra Costa’s Labor movement is encouraged by Congressmember DeSaulnier and all those who are committed toward the future by building the bridge between the green economy and working families,” said Contra Costa Labor Council Executive Director Josh Anijar.

“The clean energy economy can work for everyone, providing good paying jobs for a just transition, giving all of us more options,” said Ann Notthoff, retired Natural Resources Defense Council California Advocacy Director.

“The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers has a history of being at the forefront of innovation related to clean, reliable energy. We support all efforts that mitigate climate change while preserving our members' jobs, the economy and social stability,” said International Vice President for the Western States Section of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Tom Baca. “To that end, we continue to advocate for carbon capture, use and storage and other carbon capture technology as a solution that can truly mitigate climate change and provide reliable energy production through a realistic mix of renewables and clean fossil fuels—all while preserving and creating jobs, economic growth, and social stability.”

“The Contra Costa Building Trades Council represents over 35,000 skilled and trained, middle class working men and women.  These hard working Union men and women are members of one of the following Unions: Asbestos, Lead, and Mold Remediation Laborers, Boilermakers, Brick and Tile Layers, Carpenters, Carpet and Linoleum Layers, Cement Masons, Electricians, Elevator Constructors, Glaziers, Heat and Frost Insulators, Iron Workers, Laborers, Lather, Millwrights, Operating Engineers, Painters, Pile Drivers, Plasterers, Plumbers, Roofers and Waterproofers, Sheet Metal Workers, Sprinkler Fitters, Steamfitters, Teamsters, and Underground Utility and Landscape Workers. Many of these Unions have many of their men and women working in energy related industries.  The Contra Costa Building Trades Council applauds Congressman DeSaulnier’s reasonable and deliberative approach of his proposals.  We believe his action plan is a positive first step forward as our City, County, State, and Federal Governments work collaboratively to solve the multi-faceted and complex issues of climate change that confronts us.  The Building Trades Council further agrees with the Congressman that it is important that Labor, the workers, have seats at the table. Without Labor’s participation we believe it is inevitable that any attempts at a just transition will only end up in just unemployment!,” Bill Whitney, CEO of Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council.

“Contra Costa County's refineries are well aware of the energy future and work every day to help meet it. Local refineries have invested billions to upgrade their facilities as California leads the nation with ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets to address climate change,” said President and CEO of the East Bay Leadership Council Kristin Connelly. “Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted countless industries including the local energy sector. Protecting the thousands of high paying jobs created by these employers must be a top priority. The East Bay Leadership Council looks forward to working with Congressman DeSaulnier in facilitating industry’s engagement in this process.”

“To address the climate crisis, the American economy must transition away from fossil fuels. Congressman DeSaulnier has clearly thought about the American workers and communities that will be impacted by this transition, and he is seeking solutions to ensure those workers and communities are supported as we move into a low-carbon future,” said Citizens’ Climate Lobby Executive Director Mark Reynolds.

This legislation is part of a larger energy transition effort the Congressman unveiled earlier this year and is a continuation of the work he has done throughout his career to support efforts to address climate change with workers at the center. Most recently, the Congressman has hosted U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh in CA-11 to discuss the impact the fossil fuel industry has on the local workforce, environment, and economy. He has also held meetings with U.S. agencies, the White House, and key stakeholders over the past two years, including with local mayors, county supervisors, the Contra Costa County Administrator, other elected officials, EJ advocates, environmental representatives, labor leaders, university researchers, and other thought leaders on the energy transition. In addition, Congressman DeSaulnier has introduced other bills that address this issue from different angles.

Congressman DeSaulnier is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure, House Education and Labor, House Oversight and Reform, and House Rules Committees. He previously served as the Chair of the State Senate Transportation and Housing Committee and in the State Assembly as the first freshman in history to chair the Assembly Transportation Committee. He is also a former City Councilmember, Mayor, County Supervisor, and member of the California Air Resources Board and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.