DENVER (September 1, 2021) — Governor Jared Polis, Senator John Hickenlooper, and Representative Joe Neguse joined Colorado labor and climate leaders at Union Station today to urge U.S. Congress to fund Colorado rail projects, transit projects, and electric vehicle infrastructure in the budget reconciliation and bipartisan infrastructure bills. A recording of the press conference is available on YouTube.
While Colorado has made massive commitments to improve mass transit and build electric vehicle charging stations, federal funds will help speed up these projects and reduce the tax burden on Coloradans. By investing in rail projects, transit projects, electric vehicle infrastructure, and more, the federal government can help Colorado reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution while also stimulating the local economy and creating jobs. To best serve Colorado’s workforce, federal investments should include high road labor standards such as prevailing wage, domestic content standards, and workforce development opportunities.
“This is a rare moment in American history,” said Governor Jared Polis. “We really have a chance to form the infrastructure for the next generation, to fix our roads, reduce our emissions, improve our way of life, and create good jobs for Americans. Thank you to everyone here for stepping up; advocating for new, better, faster ways to move people and move goods; and helping us power a Colorado comeback and an American comeback that runs on clean energy and leads to great jobs created across the country.”
“This community voted for FasTracks back in 2005 and made a commitment long term to transportation and getting people where they need to be, allowing them to live in different places and still get to work, and, most importantly, what we did was we created jobs,” said Senator John Hickenlooper. “And I think that’s what President Biden has laid out in his agenda. He has been relentless in talking about how it’s not just about infrastructure, it’s not just about fighting climate change and beating back COVID, but it’s about jobs.”
“Fighting climate change and creating good-paying union jobs are not mutually exclusive concepts,” said Representative Joe Neguse. “We have got a very short runway in the next seven weeks to do what many have said was impossible: to make a herculean, once-in-a-lifetime, generational investment in creating good-paying jobs that ultimately will help us protect our environment.”
“To meet the evolving needs of Colorado, we recognize that we need federal investment in rail,” said Carl Smith, Colorado state legislative director of the SMART Transportation Division. “From the light rail systems that you see here today to the commuter rail systems to Amtrak and its nationwide network to intermodal facilities that allow us to move freight onto trains, investing in these things will drive emissions down. Investing in these things will put Coloradans to work. Investing in these things will allow SMART members who haul coal now to participate in the clean energy economy in their future.”
“These investments are going to create good union jobs, and they are going to sustain work because the skilled workers behind me and the members they represent will build them and operate them long into the future,” said Dennis Dougherty, executive director of the Colorado AFL-CIO. “The governor and his administration have laid out that investing in clean transportation systems is an imperative. We agree—but we cannot do this on our own in Colorado. Congress must help. This is a generational opportunity.”
“Colorado is already making big investments in mass transit and electric vehicle charging, and it’s exciting to see the Colorado Department of Transportation working on a new rule to align transportation spending with climate priorities for the first time,” said Kayla Calkin, political director of the NRDC Action Fund. “Now, our Colorado congressional delegation has an opportunity to supercharge these efforts—and that’s what President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda is all about. It’s about creating high road jobs and stimulating local economies with projects that improve our lives and lead us toward a more equitable and climate-friendly future at the same time.”