How would Biden’s clean energy plan affect fossil fuel workers?
A common talking point against climate action is that it would reduce fossil fuel jobs — which of course is true. As we move to a 100% clean economy, fossil fuel use will almost disappear, and any climate policy needs to consider how to protect the livelihoods of fossil fuel workers.
How many jobs are we talking about? There are about 1.2 million fossil fuel jobs in the US right now.
That’s about the number of jobs that Biden’s building retrofit program would create in the next 4 years.
Or the number of jobs the plan estimates will be created in manufacturing and deploying the country’s new electricity generation infrastructure.
A quarter of those jobs will be replaced immediately — before the fossil fuel jobs even disappear — through Biden’s proposed project to restore and clean up abandoned wells and mines.
All of these together will create far more jobs than the total number that currently exist in the US fossil fuel industry. And many of the new jobs are similar to those fossil fuel workers currently serve in, so most will be able to make the switch smoothly and earn as much or more. Of course, many of the new jobs are for one-time construction of new infrastructure — in a few decades, there might not be a net job increase. But most of today’s fossil fuel workers will also be retired by then, so that’s not a problem if we plan ahead with our workforce training.
On top of all the new job opportunities in the short term, the Biden plan reaffirms a long-term commitment to protecting fossil fuel workers’ retirement incomes and making large investments to economically empower fossil fuel communities. That means even more jobs, higher incomes, healthier communities, and happier lives.
[This mini-blog is part of Picturing Policy, a new project to help voters visualize what climate policy proposals would look like for their lives. See PicturingPolicy.org and @PicturingPolicy on Instagram and Twitter. Images by Violet Kitchen.]