New Report: Green Locomotives Mean Thousands of Jobs for Erie, Western PA

April 25, 2023

For more information contact: Kirstin Snow, Keystone Research Center

A new report released this morning by the Keystone Research Center, together with UE and Senator Bob Casey's office, details the thousands of new, high-quality jobs that can be created through the manufacture of “green locomotives” at Wabtec’s Lawrence Park facility in Erie.

Download the full report here:

The report finds that producing 1,000 green locomotives per year at the plant would create between 2,600 and 4,300 new jobs at the plant itself. In addition, increased demand for goods and services would create between 3,400 to 5,100 additional jobs in Erie County, between 780 and 1,360 jobs elsewhere in Pennsylvania, and between 2,720 and 3,400 jobs elsewhere in the U.S.

The study was conducted by the premier U.S. modeler of the jobs and economic impacts of investments that reduce carbon emissions, the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Green locomotive production is expected to increase in the United States because of the approximately 26,000 locomotives currently in use by the Class 1 railroads, fewer than 10 percent meet the modern EPA “Tier 4” standards for reduced emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency has recently proposed allowing states to set higher emissions standards, and California’s Air Control Board is voting later this week on a proposal to require that all locomotives operating in California meet the Tier 4 standard.

Keystone Research Center executive director and ReImagine Appalachia co-director Stephen Herzenberg said, “America needs to upgrade existing rail, lay new rail lines in Appalachia and across the country, and manufacture green locomotives in our state and region. This study shows that scaling up green locomotive production in Erie to feed a sustainable U.S. rail system could be a game-changer for economic opportunity in Northwest PA.”

During the press conference, UE General President Carl Rosen said, “All across the country there are rail yard workers and rail yard communities who are suffering the adverse health effects of old, dirty diesel locomotives. We are bringing together a national coalition of labor, community and environmental groups to demand that the railroads upgrade their locomotives, and to demand that the government do its job to make sure the railroads are not making people sick. Green locomotives will clean up pollution, address the climate crisis, and bring thousands of good, union jobs to Western Pennsylvania.”

Scott Slawson, president of UE Local 506, which represents workers at the Erie Wabtec facility, added, “The members of UE Local 506 are the most skilled locomotive-building workforce in America, and our facility in Erie has significant underutilized capacity. Our workforce and our facility are ready to build the green locomotives that our country needs, and this study shows that building those locomotives in Erie will ensure a bright future for our region. We hope that our employer, Wabtec, will work with us to build green locomotives in Erie and make that future a reality.”

Video of the press conference is available here:

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