Similarly, in laying out the foundation for hundreds of climate policy proposals, the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis claims, “Solving the climate crisis is hard work, but it provides a pathway to millions of good-paying, high-quality jobs that can fortify and expand America’s middle class.”
These claims have one thing in common: they’re written by Beltway insiders who lack perspective from workers. VP Biden’s plan was crafted by former Secretary of State John Kerry, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who now heads the Natural Resource Development Council (NRDC). The House plan relies on numerous environmental activist groups, including NRDC, Union of Concerned Scientists, Environmental Defense Fund, The Wilderness Society, The Nature Conservancy, and the BlueGreen Alliance.
However, there’s one organization that actually knows what people working in the field think. The North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), a coalition of the nation’s largest labor unions, released a pair of studies showing the labor force prefers working in the oil and natural gas industry. In contrast to policymakers influenced by environmental activists, NABTU spent the past several months conducting extensive polling, focus groups, and in-depth interviews directly with workers in solar, wind, nuclear, hydroelectric, and oil and natural gas.
The most striking result of the research is that people who work outside facing the elements daily report jobs in oil and natural gas provide better pay, health benefits, pensions and career opportunities than those in renewable industries.
The diversity of work is also greater within oil and natural gas than in renewables. Whereas wind and solar jobs provide opportunities for electricians, wiremen, and roofers, laborers report more opportunities for equipment operators, pipefitters, plumbers, and boilermakers in the oil and natural gas industry as well.
NABTU’s findings should come as no surprise. Several news stories about the climate plans in recent weeks have noted these trends. A Washington Post headline is a good example, “Biden's climate plan strives to be pro-labor. But it isn't enough for some unions.” An Axios story also cautions that “solar and wind jobs have lower average salaries compared to their counterparts in oil and gas and nuclear plants, according to Labor Department statistics.”
The question is, are policymakers open to listening to the voices of the hardworking men and women in the field, or will they simply continue drafting policies that benefit activist groups lobbying inside the Beltway?