Canceling the Keystone XL Is a Good First Step, Now Let’s Create Green Jobs
Updated: Jan 31
President Joe Biden is not biding his time in the White House and has set to roll back several Trump administration laws in his first days in office. One of the most notable executive orders he signed was the one canceling the Keystone XL pipeline. Environmental activists have every right to rejoice: this executive order sets a precedent for a renewed U.S. fight against climate change and indigenous sovereignty. After years of protests, the indigenous activists can claim an important victory.
However, some notable conservative personalities have concerns about the economic effects. Leaders like Ted Cruz have bemoaned the loss of 11,000 well paid unionized jobs. However, this claim is false and misleading. The 11,000 figure originated from the jobs report provided by the State Department which listed the workers needed to build the pipeline. Contrary to Cruz’s claim, these jobs are mainly temporary construction positions that last from four to eight months. Only 50 permanent positions would be created if the pipeline remained. Moreover, the “thousands'' of workers laid off have been grossly overestimated by TC Energy, the company behind its creation. In reality, only hundreds of workers were laid off according to a TC project manager on site.
Still, the uncertainty remains for workers in the coal and natural gas industries for what role they play in our fight against climate change. We shouldn’t blame them for working in the fossil fuel industries; they’re hardworking Americans and they deserve good jobs, which is why we must invest in green energy. In the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, we owe it to the people to revitalize renewable energy and speed up employment.
Canceling oil pipelines and other fossil fuel interests is only useful when there are countermeasures to support the environment and the people. For example, for every pipeline lost, thousands of green jobs should be created. Not only do we need to emphasize what not to do, but also how we can create a greener America. Joe Biden has pledged to create over 10 million green jobs and these are not only beneficial for the collective country, but also for individuals. According to E2, a business firm, green jobs pay 25% more than the national wage and have more benefits for workers such as better unionization and retirement benefits. Despite the economic downturn this year, job growth outpaced other sectors of the economy and the green industry employs over three times the people who work in fossil fuels.
In terms of wage compensation, energy efficiency workers were compensated 28% more than the average American worker, earning $24.44 an hour. Moreover, the energy sector is flexible with many job options such as HVAC maintenance, solar/wind installation, clean fuels, clean vehicles, and more. California is currently leading the United States in the number of employed workers in green industries.
2020 was a horrible year for workers all over the world, and we still have a climate crisis to address. Creating more well-paying green jobs will easily help us achieve both these goals, boosting the economy and reducing carbon emissions, so Joe Biden and his climate team should start this initiative as soon as possible.