Biden Appeals to Unions During Clean Energy Campaign Speech in Philadelphia

By Cathalijne Adams
Jul 20 2023 |
Screenshot from The White House YouTube livestream

Keeping America’s clean energy supply chain in the United States is creating thousands of union jobs, the president said at the Philly Shipyard.

President Biden traveled to Philadelphia on Thursday for a speech at the Philly Shipyard, where the Acadia, the first U.S.-flagged Jones-Act-compliant subsea rock installation vessel, is being built. Once complete, the Acadia will assist in the construction of offshore wind farms, and the president used the speech to spotlight his administration’s efforts to build America’s clean energy supply chains and create manufacturing jobs.

More than 1,000 workers across nine unions are building the vessel’s construction, utilizing steel plates made by the United Steelworkers in Indiana. The project will generate an estimated $125 million of U.S. economic activity each year, the White House states.

“It’ll be the first vessel of its kind that’s Made in America, American-owned, American-operated,” Biden said. “The rocks will come from American quarries and be loaded in American ports. Steel for vessels being made in United Steelworkers in Indiana. The engine will be made by the United States Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers in Pittsburgh. The crew’s going to be American mariners from Seafarers International Union.”

Since 1920, the Jones Act has required that vessels transporting goods between U.S. ports be U.S.-built, -owned and operated, a mandate that aims to ensure a robust domestic shipyard industrial base. The strength of this sector has become increasingly important as tensions with China rise. Recently leaked data from the Office of Naval Intelligence shows China’s shipbuilders are “more than 200 times more capable of producing warships and submarines,” according to The War Zone, firmly establishing China as the world’s leading shipbuilder. This disparity is a clear national security threat and far more investment is needed, which also will support American jobs and manufacturers in the process.   

“There are some content to rely on ships built overseas without American crews to operate them. Again, not on my watch,” Biden said. “We’re strengthening American shipbuilding, supporting good union jobs, and bringing offshore wind supply chains back home.”

He continued: “Before the pandemic, ‘supply chain’ was a phrase that most Americans never heard or thought about, but today after delays in parts and products, everyone knows what a supply chain means, why they matter. Our Investing in America agenda is bringing our clean energy supply chains home.”

Graphic courtesy of the Department of Energy

Since Biden took office, companies have announced more than 18 offshore wind shipbuilding projects and invested nearly $3.5 billion across 12 manufacturing facilities and 13 ports to boost America’s offshore wind supply chain. These initiatives are all essential to the realization of Biden administration’s goal to build 30 gigawatts of offshore wind project by 2020, which would power more than 10 million homes with clean energy.

“The Inflation Reduction Act offers tax credits for projects using American-made iron, steel, manufactured products, so our clean energy future will be Made in America,” Biden said. “And all this investment means good paying jobs here at home. We’re making sure these new jobs come free and fair with the ability to join a union if you’re not already in a union.”

In sum, the White House tallies that Biden’s economic agenda has attracted more than $500 billion in private sector manufacturing and clean energy investments and 800,000 manufacturing jobs.