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Energy Policy and Climate Change

We can create good American jobs by investing in a clean energy future.  Our nation can grow high-quality jobs that put Americans to work, reduce our dependence on imported energy, and protect the environment from the risks of climate change.  We support an “all of the above” energy policy, but it must include advanced coal technologies as part of our nation’s emerging policy framework. We also need to make sure that regulations established to address climate change and other environmental concerns do not have the unintended consequence of prohibiting the construction of new, state-of-the-art coal generating capacity or contribute to job losses across a broad range of construction, manufacturing and transportation sectors.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology will ensure responsible use of our nation’s fossil energy resources.  The deployment of CCS will create millions of good paying jobs for Boilermakers and other union craftsman, while ensuring a future for affordable, reliable energy from coal. Coal-fired power generation remains among the most labor intensive energy technologies, supporting good jobs in construction, mining, transportation, and other sectors.  With the EPA having recently proposed regulations on greenhouse gas emissions for newly constructed coal and gas power plants, the investment in this technology is imperative. We must also invest in workforce development to provide the training and skills necessary to deploy new low-carbon energy technology.

Congress needs to provide leadership and a path forward on advanced coal technologies. For example,  H.R. 4622 the bi-partisan Carbon Capture Act of 2016 would improve the current Section 45Q Tax Credit for Carbon Sequestration by:

  • Permanently extending 45Q beyond it's current cap of 75 million tons by eliminating the cap altogether to provide assurance and attract private sector financing. 
  • Lowering 45Q's current capture capacity requirement from 500,000 tons per year for credit eligibility to 150,000 tons per year to support projects that capture C02 from smaller sources including ethanol and fertilizer production and commercial demonstrations of new capture technology.
  • Authorizing tax credit assignability to other entities in C02-EOR value chain. Entities such as electric co-ops do not have federal tax liability. This legislation would allow eligible carbon capture projcets to assign 45Q credits to another entity involved in the capture, storage, and managing of C02. 

Boilermakers’ Message to Senators and Representatives:

  • Support legislation such as H.R. 4622 that will encourage the development and deployment of advanced coal technologies and other common sense energy policies that will enhance our energy security and create new employment opportunities for American workers. However, any construction activities assisted through federal support mechanisms should include standards that promote high-quality employment and fair competition and preferences for the domestic manufacture of new and emerging carbon reducing technologies to revitalize the American industrial base.

Trade and Manufacturing: No More of the Same Bad Deals

Trade policies should promote high-standards, good jobs, and a level playing field for American workers.  Trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), and recent agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia, have failed to live up to their promises. For too long, U.S. trade policy has reflected the priorities of multi-national corporations, instead of the best interests of American firms and workers. It is time to work for a better trade policy that encourages exports without promoting the off-shoring of existing domestic jobs.

The Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement (TPP), currently being negotiated between the U.S. and eleven Pacific Rim nations—Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, presents the Obama administration with an opportunity to reform U.S. trade policy so it helps U.S. businesses export goods, rather than outsource jobs. The president and his team have an opportunity to deliver a new trade model for the 21st century that creates jobs, protects the environment and ensures safe imports. Negotiations must include provisions that will benefit U.S. workers. Unfortunately, for years the global corporate agenda has infused trade policy with its demands for deregulation, privatization, tax breaks and other financial advantages for Big Business, while shrinking the social safety net in the name of “labor flexibility.” Global businesses that are the primary beneficiaries of U.S. trade policy want the Trans-Pacific FTA to look as much like prior FTAs as possible. This agreement is particularly troubling due to the serious lack of transparency over negotiations after more than 3 years of talks. Shielding not only proposals, but agreed-upon texts from public view until after negotiations have concluded and the pact is finalized is not consistent with democratic principles. 

The Trans-Atlantic “Free Trade” Agreement (TAFTA) or Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a ongoing negotiation between the US and the European Union (EU) that was launched in 2013. In the official document outlining TAFTA, the Obama administration has made clear that TAFTA will not primarily target trade, but “behind-the-border” policies such as health, environmental and financial protections. Obama administration officials, and their European counterparts, have proposed that TAFTA include the extreme investor privileges of past “trade” deals. If this extreme system is expanded through TAFTA as proposed, the thousands of EU corporations with U.S. subsidiaries (and vice versa) would be newly empowered to attack domestic health, environmental and financial safeguards that they see as inhibiting “expected future profits.” This radical provision alone makes TAFTA an unacceptable liability for consumers, workers and the environment.

“Fast Track” or Trade Promotion Authority allows the executive branch to unilaterally select partner countries for “trade” pacts, decide the agreements’ contents, and then negotiate and sign the agreements — all before Congress has a vote on the matter. Normal congressional committee processes are forbidden, meaning that the executive branch is empowered to write lengthy legislation on its own with no review or amendments. These executive-authored bills alter wide swaths of U.S. law unrelated to trade – food safety, immigration visas, energy policy, medicine patents and more – to conform our domestic policies to each agreement’s requirements. And, remarkably, Fast Track lets the executive branch control Congress’ voting schedule. Unlike any other legislation, both the House and Senate are required to vote on a Fast Tracked trade agreement within 90 days of the White House submitting it. No floor amendments are allowed and debate is limited.

On June 29, 2015, President Obama signed the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (H.R. 1890 and S. 995). This legislation sometimes known as Trade Promotion Authority or "fast track" will revive the 2002 Fast Track mechanism that allows pacts such as the pending TPP and TTIP to be signed by the Executive Branch before the public has an opportunity to review any texts, and then be rushed through Congress circumventing ordinary review, amendment and debate procedures. It fails to address weaknesses in our trade laws and puts U.S. workers and companies at a competitive disadvantage internationally.

Status:

  • The Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement and the Trans-Atlantic Trade Agreement are still being negotiated. The U.S. hopes to have both finalized by the end of 2016. 
  • H.R. 1890 and S. 995 have passed through both respective committees in both chambers. Legislation was signed into law by President Obama on June 29, 2015. 

Boilermakers’ Message to Senators and Representatives: 

  • Please Vote NO on the Trans-Pacific Partnership
  • Congress needs to say NO to the old Fast Track model and demand greater oversight and transparency of U.S. trade policy and agreements.

American Shipbuilding

The Jones Act is essential to American economic, national, and security interests. In addition, the U.S. Navy has made it clear:  Repeal of the Jones Act would harm our nation’s ability to meet strategic sealift requirements and military shipbuilding needs. 

America's domestic shipping industry is responsible for nearly 500,000 jobs and more than $100 billion in annual economic output, according to a recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the Transportation Institute. Labor compensation associated with the domestic fleet exceeds $29 billion annually with those wages spent in virtually every corner of the United States. The American domestic fleet, with more than 40,000 vessels, is the envy of the world. Every job in a domestic shipyard results in four additional jobs elsewhere in the U.S. economy.

A small number of individuals and organizations support repeal of the Jones Act, which would allow foreign-built, foreign-operated, foreign-manned, and foreign-owned vessels to operate on American waters. The result would be to take a core American industry like shipbuilding and transfer it overseas to nations like China and South Korea, which heavily subsidize their shipyards and play by their own set of rules. Additional losses would occur from the outsourcing of American shipping jobs to foreign nations. Particularly at a time of severe economic dislocation in the U.S., it makes little if any sense to send American jobs overseas and undermine an essential American industry.

The Title XI Maritime Guaranteed Loan Program provides small and medium sized ship owners with affordable finance rates at reasonable terms to allow ship owners to replace and expand their fleet. Commercial shipbuilding creates and sustains good jobs in U.S. shipyards, strengthens the defense industrial base, and provides modern sealift capability for national security. The President’s FY17 budget request for $3 million dollars to fund salaries and administration expenses. The Budget proposes cancellation of $5 million from the FY 2016 Maritime guaranteed Loan Program (Title XI) funds to offset a number of priority initiatives within MARAD. Title XI loan guarantees for shipbuilding need to be increased as the fund has no more capacity.

The United States Navy Fiscal Year Budget - The House Armed Services Committee recently approved it's version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), with the Senate to consider it's version in May, 2017. The House version includes shipbuilding increases totaling $20.6 billion, $2.3 billion more than the president's budget, including: 

  • Authorization for two Virginia class submarines for 2017, and advanced procurement for sustaining the two a year build rate in 2018 and 2019
  • Fully supports the $1.9 billion requested for the development and design of the Ohio Replacement submarine
  • Authorization for the design and construction of the replacement dock landing ship designated LX (R) or the amphibious transport dock designated LPD-29 
  • Funding for an additional Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) over the President's budget that only a single contractor for the construction of the Littoral Combat Ship or any successor frigate class ship program until the Secretary of the Navy makes certain certifications to the congressional defense committees. 
  • Reversing steep cuts in per diem rates for employees who travel away from home longer than 30 days at a time. 

Coast Guard Fiscal Year Budget - is proposing a FY17 budget of about $10.3 billion–– similar to it's FY16 request but lower than the enacted $11.1 billion in FY16. The budget provides about $704 million for surface assets, including funding for the fifth through eighth National Security Cutter (NSC). The acquisition of the NSC is vital for performing DHS missions in the far off-shore regions, including the harsh operating environment of the Pacific Ocean, Bering Sea, and Artic. 

Boilermakers’ Federal Employees are in Naval Shipyards and Coast Guard Facilities across the nation. Under a 2010 law, federal pay rates were not increased in 2011, 2012, or 2013. The last general raise, 2 percent, was paid in January 2010. A group of House Democrats has proposed boosting the federal employee raise for January 2015 to 3.3 percent as opposed to the 1 percent proposed by the Administration. 

Boilermakers’ Message to Senators and Representatives:

  • Oppose any effort to repeal or weaken the domestic-build requirements of the Jones Act.
  • Oppose any effort to further reduce the Navy and Coast Guard budgets below current levels.
  • Support an FY17 authorization and appropriation of $60 million for the Title XI Ship Loan Guarantee Program to provide financing for the construction of replacement vessels for the aging Jones Act fleet. 
  • Permanently repeal a November 2014 Pentagon policy that results in lower reimbursement rates for lodging, meals and other expenses for service members and civilian employees on long-term TDY (temporary duty)

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