Keystone XL opponents need a jobs program

Smith, Brendan; Brecher, Jeremy
http://www.labor4sustainability.org/articles/keystone-xl-opponents-need-a-jobs-program/

Publisher:  Labor Network for Sustainability
Year Published:  2015  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX18588

The victorious Keystone campaign also exposed the perennial Achilles' heel of those who are fighting against climate change: We are often painted by our opponents and perceived by the public as caring more about the environment than about jobs. The neglected half of the job for environmental advocates is to ourselves become the voice for job creation. We need to develop robust programs to put unemployed pipefitters, teamsters, and others back to work. Indeed, the prerequisite for every environmental campaign should be a plausible and detailed jobs program. The sustainability movement must be a voice for workers, students, and others who want to both save the earth and promote appropriate economic development.

Abstract: 
-

Excerpt:

However inflated TransCanada's employment figures, the promise of several thousand well-paying jobs represents a glimmer of hope in a dismal economy. And opponents of the pipeline appear to be snuffing out that hope. We need to honor the fact that jobs are central to workers' identities and aspirations.

Environmentalists often respond to charges that their policies are "job killers" with research demonstrating that investment in solar, wind, and other forms of renewable energy and conservation creates far more jobs than equivalent investment in fossil fuels. This is a well-documented fact, but a hypothetical future job doesn't put food on an empty table today. In fact, we've had discussions with union officials who strongly supported climate protection legislation but simultaneously argued heatedly for the Keystone XL pipeline as a source of immediate jobs for their desperate members.

There are a host of reasons to oppose the pipeline, from protecting native people in the tar-sands region to avoiding spills into a critical aquifer to preventing a catastrophic increase in climate-changing carbon emissions. But none of them will cut much ice with people who start from the assumption that jobs are simply more important right now than the environment.

The neglected half of the job for environmental advocates is to ourselves become the voice for job creation. We need to develop robust programs to put unemployed pipefitters, teamsters, and others back to work. Indeed, the prerequisite for every environmental campaign should be a plausible and detailed jobs program. The sustainability movement must be a voice for workers, students, and others who want to both save the earth and promote appropriate economic development. Our goal must be to transform the debate from "jobs vs. the environment" to "our credible jobs program vs. the climate deniers' fraudulent ones."

Subject Headings