CLAIM: President Joe Biden’s green jobs agenda “will create millions of good-paying jobs that “Americans can raise their families on.”
VERDICT: MOSTLY FALSE. Biden’s American Jobs Plan threatens American union jobs and the wages of millions of energy workers, union representatives have repeatedly said.
“The American Jobs Plan will create millions of good-paying jobs — jobs Americans can raise their families on,” Biden said during his address to Congress. “… these are good-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced.”
Despite Biden’s claims, union representatives have repeatedly warned that Biden’s green jobs agenda will cost high-paying middle-class jobs, cut United States wages, and many are concerned that, unlike oil jobs, green jobs can be outsourced to foreign countries.
The Houston Chronicle reported last month:
In addition, clean energy jobs in the United States, such as working on wind turbines or installing solar panels, don’t pay nearly as well as those in the oil and gas industry, where even workers in the lower ranks can earn six-figure salaries. [Emphasis added]
“Someone working in a refinery leaving to go install solar panels, they’re probably going to take a 75 percent cut in pay,” said Rick Levy, president of the Texas AFL-CIO, the state’s largest labor union. “What do we do for the folks that have been powering this country for the last 100 years? How do we shape this new economy so jobs can be sustaining in the same way jobs in the fossil fuel industry have been?” [Emphasis added]
It’s a conundrum plaguing communities from Appalachian coal country to Wyoming’s natural gas fields, and perhaps nowhere more than Houston, which has long reigned as the “energy capital of the world.”
Green jobs, as the Houston Chronicle also noted, can be outsourced to foreign countries, as they do not rely on natural minerals, rocks, and other geological factors that keep many oil and gas jobs in the U.S.
A report in Politico this month acknowledged that Biden’s green jobs agenda will eliminate these high-paying middle class jobs, often unionized, and union representatives said they have yet to see a plan to get their members in similarly-paid jobs.
The president’s push to decarbonize the economy will mean eliminating the kind of steady, fixed-location jobs that come with coal mines or fossil fuel power plants. The Biden plan would require the construction of vast numbers of solar, wind and battery projects, along with potentially new pipelines for carbon dioxide and hydrogen. But construction jobs are temporary and require mobility, and once those projects are complete, they’ll need few workers to maintain them and keep them operating. [Emphasis added]
“The jobs that he talked about yesterday were construction jobs,” said Phil Smith, a spokesman for the United Mine Workers of America, a day after the Biden speech. “We’re not seeing anything concrete that our members can look at and say, ‘OK, that’s where I’m gonna fit in.’” [Emphasis added]