Rep. Dingell: 'We don't have to choose the environment or jobs'

Rep. Dingell: 'We don't have to choose the environment or jobs'
© Greg Nash

Rep. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellVirginia Democrat introduces tax credit for electric commercial vehicles More than 100 Democrats back legislation lowering Medicare eligibility age to 60 The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by AT&T - Texas's near abortion ban takes effect MORE (D-Mich.) on Tuesday pushed back against the idea that transitioning to electric vehicles will mean a loss of money and jobs.  

In a conversation with The Hill’s Editor at Large Steve Clemons during the publication’s “The Road to Zero-Emission Trucks: Manufacturing” event, Dingell said that she has pulled in environmentalists, electric companies, the federal government and labor unions to discuss the transition and what that will mean for U.S. jobs.  

They hear the word ‘green job’ and they think they’re job’s going away, they think they’re going to make less money. That isn’t the case” Dingell told Clemons.  

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We don’t have to either choose the environment or choose jobs. We can have both. And that’s what we’ve got to work at very intentionally,” the lawmaker, who worked for General Motors for 30 years, added.  

Dingell is a sponsor of the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Future Act. The bill would essentially expand the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program (ATVM) to help kickstart companies' investments in zero-emission vehicles and electric batteries.

The event featured lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who agreed that the transition to non-fossil fuel energies is both inevitable and vital to the protection of our planet. 

Sen. David Senjem (R-Minn.) agreed that the country should switch over to electric vehicles, but said that his state of Minnesota could make this change without the interference of the federal government. 

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“By and large the ingenuity of this country comes out of local communities and states. In Minnesota, for instance, we have an alliance with Germany, seven of our cities are aligned in what we call a climate smart municipality group and we talk about these kinds of issues constantly with our German counterparts.”

John Paul Smith, Legislative Representative of the United Steelworkers Union weighed in on the conversation, stating his union supports producing green technology, but that has to be accompanied by the federal investment in labor training to aid the switch. 

“Oftentimes we feel like we have a choice to either have good manufacturing jobs or to improve and protect our environment, and the fact is that we can actually do both of those things,” Smith said.