President Biden on Friday said people who lose jobs in the fossil fuel industry as a result of environmental reforms must be provided new job opportunities “in the places where they live.”
Biden claimed in a speech at the White House that phasing out coal, gas and oil doesn’t require economic devastation in current energy-producing regions.
“As we transition to a clean energy future, we must ensure that workers who have thrived in yesterday’s and today’s industries have as bright a tomorrow in the new industries as well as in the places where they live and the communities they have built,” Biden told a summit of world leaders.
“When we invest in climate resilience and infrastructure, we create opportunities for everyone. That’s the heart of our jobs plan that I proposed to the United States. It’s how our nation intends to build an economy that gives everybody a fair shot.”
Republican critics panned as naive and insincere previous Biden administration attempts to reframe ending fossil fuel use as a jobs-creating opportunity, arguing there would be significant disruption in places like West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Biden’s international climate change envoy John Kerry stumbled at a White House press briefing in January when he said people left unemployed by Biden’s policies can “go to work to make the solar panels.”
On Friday, Biden called climate change “an opportunity to create millions of good-paying jobs around the world … and greater quality of life and greater dignity to people performing those jobs in every nation.”
He said the benefits would flow to “a line worker, electricians, utility workers laying transmission lines connecting battery storage and making the grid more modern. For automotive workers building electric cars, trucks and buses.”
Biden said economic changes would also help “skilled workers installing charging stations to accommodate them throughout our countries. Construction workers, engineers, insulators upgrading our schools and commercial buildings and constructing new energy-efficient homes. Manufacturing workers building nuclear and carbon capture technologies, solar panels and wind turbines, and people working in the fields that we haven’t even conceived of yet.”
He did not specifically address the fate of coal-industry and oil and gas workers, who can often earn six-figure salaries.
Biden’s more than $2 trillion infrastructure proposal includes significant proposed funds for renewable energy technology, including nearly $200 billion in proposed electric vehicle subsidies. Democrats may ram that bill through Congress with a bare majority under special budget reconciliation rules that bypass the usual 60-vote threshold for bills to pass the Senate.
Biden previously ordered a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal lands and canceled the Keystone XL oil pipeline construction project.
The Biden-hosted virtual climate change summit featured many major world players and Biden praised remarks from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I’m very heartened by President Putin’s call yesterday for the world to collaborate and advance carbon dioxide removal, and the United States looks forward to working with Russia and other countries in that endeavor. It has great promise,” Biden said Friday.