The Biden administration has admitted to killing jobs in the fossil fuel industries, but it insists that workers can find livelihoods in other, growing sectors, such as solar panels.
John Kerry, the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, said on Wednesday that President Joe Biden is doing “what needs to be done” to combat climate change in cracking down on the coal and oil and gas industries. He said that the “crisis” of climate change underscored the need for investment in clean energy sectors, and that workers in fossil fuel industries have been “fed a false narrative” about the future of their industries.
At a press conference, a reporter asked Kerry what his message is to fossil fuel industry workers worried about losing their livelihoods as the Biden administration cracks down on their industries, and if the Biden administration is putting fossil fuel executives “on notice” with recent, aggressive policies to tamp down fossil fuel production.
“We didn’t come here to put anybody on notice except to the seriousness of President Biden’s intent to do what needs to be done to deal with this crisis, and it is a crisis,” Kerry began. “With respect to those workers, no two people are more, in this room, are more concerned about it. And the president of the United States has expressed in every comment he has made about climate the need to grow the new jobs that pay better, that are cleaner.”
“You know, you look at the consequences of black lung for a miner, for instance, and measure that against the fastest growing job in the United States before COVID was solar power technician. The same people can do those jobs, but the choice of doing the solar power one now is a better choice. Similarly, you have the second fastest growing job pre-COVID was wind turbine technician,” he continued. “So what President Biden wants to do is make sure those folks have better choices, that they have alternatives, that they can be the people that go to work to make the solar panels, that we’re making them here at home.”
Kerry went on to blame the losses in the fossil fuel sectors on “market forces,” shifting responsibility away from the Biden administration.
“I think that, unfortunately, workers have been fed a false narrative. No surprise, right from the last few years. They’ve been fed the notion that somehow dealing with climate is coming at their expense. No it’s not. What is happening to them is because other market forces are already taking place,” Kerry said.
In the short time since Biden took office, his administration has taken a number of actions aimed at curbing fossil fuel production, such as revoking the permit of the Keystone XL pipeline, which received harsh criticism from top Canadian lawmakers pushing the project. On Wednesday, the Department of the Interior froze the approval of any new oil and gas leases on federal land for an indefinite amount of time while the federal government studies the impact of oil wells on climate change.