The way we generate electricity today is evolving rapidly. In America, coal and nuclear assets are increasingly being taken offline every year, while natural gas and renewable generation is expanding. We understand these changes are driven by powerful economic forces and also in response to global climate change.
Opportunities and challenges
UWUA members are highly-skilled individuals whose every day work involves thinking like an engineer, a mechanic or a scientist. As an organization, we approach these changes the same way our members would and recognize that there are opportunities and challenges in facing this new reality.
One of those opportunities is putting carbon capture technology to work for us. Carbon capture is essential to reducing global carbon emissions and meeting climate goals while sustaining the nation’s energy production, industrial base and high-skilled jobs in communities that depend on them.
In October, UWUA members from across the country took that message directly to lawmakers and their staff and urged more members of Congress support and advocate for measures that incentivize carbon capture technology. Chauffe Schirmer with Local 127 in Wyoming, Greg Adams with Local 175 in Ohio, and Tom Cole and Bill Chadwick with the Michigan State Utility Workers Council (MSUWC) spent two days walking across Capitol Hill telling their stories and sharing why carbon capture technology is important to them and their fellow members. They met with members and their staff from the offices of Senators Rob Portman (OH), Tammy Duckworth (IL) and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), and Representatives Elissa Slotkin (MI), Cheri Bustos (IL), Marcy Kaptur (IL), Brad Wenstrup (OH) and more.
UWUA members urged these investments are critical to the advancement of a low-carbon economy, job creation, and the development of innovative solutions for emissions reductions that benefit the economy and environment.
A few weeks after UWUA members participated in the carbon capture fly-in, Governmental Affairs Director Lee Anderson echoed a similar message as he testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He urged that a net zero emissions philosophy is important and that we should collectively move forward with efforts to decarbonize our economy, but we must do it responsibly.
The pole star in understanding the science of climate change, and the appropriate response to it, is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report (IPCC). According to the IPCC, carbon capture is indispensable to our ability to achieving our emissions reduction goals. Anderson spoke to other impactful measures including nuclear power and renewable energy that can help reach those goals.
Above all he urged, “We must recognize the contribution made by these workers to build the nation and aid them in this change,” he said at the hearing. “We see reason for optimism, but also reasons to be cautious. The technology already exists to retain and build-out low-or zero-carbon power generation, there is nothing which needs to be invented from scratch, only systems which need to be scaled, improved or, in some cases, simply retained.”