This pandemic has put a strain on many industries from commercial fishing, to tourism, to the commercial construction industry. However, what some people don’t take into account are the amount of construction jobs that have been affected by the virus and the state being shut down. Many of these jobs were deemed essential, but some large projects were unable to move forward.

In 2004, the Maine State Legislature passed a law to provide leadership in addressing the threat of climate change. This law set clear greenhouse gas reduction goals by the year 2020. Here we are in the year 2020 and we have achieved significant strides in technology of clean energy and lowering our carbon emissions. Some people may disagree with some of these clean energy sources. However, what we have achieved is good paying construction jobs. Whether it is companies building roads, doing earth work to develop sites, running transmission lines or trucking equipment and gear to the sites, these companies have invested millions of dollars into their workforce. They have invested in specialty equipment and tools in order to perform these jobs to industry standards and provide these good paying jobs for Maine Workers. They have completely pivoted to the needs of the environment by following regulations, updated permitting processes, and adapted to the growing need for work in clean energy.

Reed & Reed in Woolwich is the second-largest construction company in the state of Maine and they are located in Woolwich. They provide a large number of jobs to the citizens in this area and more often than not, their work is with clean energy. The people who work for Reed & Reed are our friends, family, neighbors and community members. Due to this pandemic, these projects have been slowed down because of the fear of infection, the unsteady economy, or these projects not being considered essential.

Clean energy was among the fastest growing sectors of the U.S. economy before March, but the pandemic has caused staggering losses as with other industries. More than 2,200 clean energy jobs have been lost in Maine alone. Maine’s clean energy job creators need Congress to pass a pro-growth framework that puts clean energy workers back on the job. By putting in place a plan our federal leadership can bolster local economies, ensure long-term employment opportunities and continue to lead on issues of the environment.

With the amount of workers from BIW currently on strike, we must do whatever is that we can to ensure the workers in our community are taken care of. Companies like Reed & Reed have made the investment to ensure that these jobs stay in Maine and not completely turned over to out-of-state companies. Protecting these clean energy jobs is crucially important not just for the workers and the businesses that employ them, but for the community businesses that depend on those employees for support. The local town convenience store, pizza place, and breakfast joint, just to name a few, depend on these workers to frequent their establishments to be able to survive. Maine needs affordable power if we are going to entice businesses to move and bring high paying jobs.

I appreciate all of the work that Senator Collins is doing to support the construction industry in the State of Maine and I hope to have an opportunity to work with her in strengthening these clean energy and infrastructure jobs. During this time of uncertainty, we need leaders like Senator Susan Collins to pass legislation that secures a robust clean energy workforce, provides needed paychecks and supports homegrown American innovation.

Jeffrey K. Pierce is a former state representative and is the Republican candidate for House District 53 in the state Legislature. He lives in Dresden.

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