CLEAN ENERGY JOBS vs. FOSSIL FUEL JOBS

Many labor leaders know we must transition to a green energy economy, sooner rather than later if we are to avoid fratricide.

Picture of people up to theri necks in water to avoid an Australian wildfire.
Credit: Tim Holmes/Holmes Family, via Associated Press

Climate Change is spawning more wildfires like this one (pictured on the left) where Tammy Holmes and her grandchildren clung to a jetty while flames raged around them in the Tasmanian town of Dunalley, east of Hobart, Australia.

LEADERS KNOW NOBODY SETS THEIR OWN HOUSE ON FIRE
TO KEEP TEMPORARILY WARM,
FOR WHEN THAT GLOW IS GONE,
ALL WE HAVE LEFT ARE THE ASHES

Labor leaders know too, as do we, that climate justice required to benefit humanity, also requires us to minimize the disadvantage that transitioning to clean energy brings to fossil fuel and transportation workers who have undeniably contributed to our current prosperity.

That is why the Initiative has sections 14 through 20 in it — to aid in the retraining of displaced fossil fuel and transportation workers while providing them with unemployment benefits 20% above the benefit they would normally receive after losing a job due to the transition to clean energy. The Initiative also provides pension security for  displaced fossil fuel workers if the companies they work for fail to make good on pension promises.  You may see Initiative sections 14 through 20 at this link. 

The Initiative also has provisions requiring safe connection to the grid, and installation by Montana preferenced labor constructing and operating renewable energy generation facilities at prevailing wage.

By requiring a 5% increase in green energy by 2020, 4% increase per year from 2019 through 2030, 2% increase per year from 2030 through 2039, and 1% yearly increase thereafter until 2050, the Initiative phases in the transition to renewable energy in an orderly, predictable fashion so utilities and their workers may plan to react. Under this initiative workers and utilities will have more time to adjust than many animals (like the polar bear shown below) and plants that already must adapt to our warming climate.

Polar Bear swimming & Link to how warming affects polar bears
Warming caused one bear (like the one shown here) to swim for nine days straight, 426 miles, losing her cub and 22% of her body weight during the swim. Click the picture for more on how global warming is threatening polar bears.
DEVELOPING RENEWABLE POWER NOW CREATES MORE JOBS THAN DEVELOPING FOSSIL-FUEL-FIRED ELECTRIC GENERATION

Wind, solar, geothermal, & hydropower combined accounted for 84.1 % of the new US electric generating capacity (1,900 MW) in the first four months of 2015. Five natural gas units provided the rest.

2015 electric capacity additions

Between January 2011 and the end of 2014, the U.S. added roughly 170,000 new natural resources and mining jobs, according to the payroll processing firm, ADP. But between the start of 2015 and June 30, 2015, roughly 76,000 of those jobs were eliminated. [1]

So the trend is away from fossil fuel related jobs and toward clean affordable renewable energy jobs.

INTERNATIONAL CLEAN ENERGY JOBS:
North American Clean Energy Reported: “Employment in the renewable energy sector is growing rapidly…. In 2014, an estimated 7.7 million people worldwide worked directly or indirectly in the sector.”

Noting the economic opportunity that can come from proactive climate policies needed to protect our planet and its jobs, the International Labour Organization echoed on its blog the union slogan that “there are no jobs on a dead planet,” .

Link to IBLO Report on Creation of Clean Energy Jobs
Link to ITUC Report on Creation of Clean Energy Jobs

And in a similar vein, citing the publication linked on the left, global labour leader Sharan Burrow says there are millions of new jobs on a healthy one. She is general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, which represents over 176 million workers in 162 countries.

In 2012, the AFL-CIO blog also supported the “no jobs on a dead planet” theme.

Wind can provide 20% of US electricity by 2030 while creating 380,000 jobs.
Click photo to link to the full “US Department of Energy “Wind Vision” report.
MONTANA CLEAN ENERGY JOBS

The “Montana Renewable Portfolio” Report (p. 1) determined the development and operation “of wind power in Montana generated nearly $400 million in spending, and 1,400 man-years of work” between 2005 and 2015. “Excluding construction booms associated with developing wind assets, wind is estimated to” have added “close to $16 million to the annual Gross State Product and about 90 jobs to yearly employment.”

  • The first 10 years of wind development in Montana produced $77 million for taxes and $16 million in land leases. (p. 7)
Link to "Montana's Renewable Portfolio" 2015 Report
From Montana’s Renewable Portfolio” 2015 Report by SciGaia

This was done while keeping electricity rates lower than in other states. The  “Montana Renewable Portfolio” Report (p. 2) found: “In general, rates in Montana have been 5% lower than in Mountain States; 15% below the US average, and 25% or more below the average for the Contiguous Pacific States.” And that happened despite the fact that many of those states are developing wind power that is lowering their electricity rates.

Jobs created by wind development in Montana counties are depicted in the following graphic:

Link to Montana Wind Power Jobs by County
Click graphic to be linked to more “Good Jobs, Clean Air” graphics. (cc) by Good Jobs Clean Air
APOLLO ALLIANCE/BLUE GREEN ALLIANCE

Link to Blue Green Alliance Foundation’s Clean Economy, Manufacturing Center, Workforce Training Center.

Since its founding in 2004, the Apollo Alliance, a nationwide coalition of business, labor, environmental, and community leaders,  has worked to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, cut the carbon emissions that are destabilizing the climate, and expand opportunities for American businesses and workers.

Apollo’s early report, “New Energy For America,” emphasized the positive impact of investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency on the national job market. In 2008, that report evolved into the “The New Apollo Program, Clean Energy, Good Jobs: An Economic Strategy for American Prosperity,” report involving not only the electric power sector but other sectors of our economy as well. A 2003 study done for Apollo by the Perryman Group took this down to the state level, and showed how Montana could add jobs and grow its economy through renewable energies. It projected:

  • An Additional $453 Million of Economic Activity in Montana
  • 7,670 Jobs Created, including:
    • 559 New Manufacturing Jobs Created
    • 1,230 New Construction Jobs Created
    • $299 Million of Increased Income

For example, there could be 369 new Montana transportation jobs when  we use windmills to produce hydrogen from water–not coal or methane–to run our cars. Enough hydrogen can be produced from the quantity of water that  flows for 29 hours past the mouth of the Mississippi River to replace the fossil fuel used by the entire US transportation industry. [1at p. 73] For Montana that is many swallows less than would be needed in the coal-synfuel scenario once proposed for Montana, that would guzzle the Tongue River.

To show you want climate justice for fossil fuel workers as well as the rest of us during the transition to 80% renewable electricity by 2050, please tell us you want to sign  the paper copy of the Initiative so it can be on the 2018 ballot by clicking HERE.

Other Resources:

For US Government facts about renewable energy, click HERE.

Page updated 6/6/2016

Home of Montana (MT) Community Affordable Renewable Energy Saves; Paid for by MTcares, Inc., Pam Ellis, Treasurer, Billings MT 59105