Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Executive Order on Climate Change: Pipelines and Coal Could Create Tens of Jobs


SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Final construction of the Keystone XL pipeline resumed in January following President Trump’s success in clearing away political obstacles such as Native Americans. The project promises to create 35 permanent positions. The president’s latest executive order seeks to capitalize on those impressive employment figures by rolling back climate change policies that have hobbled the fossil fuel and coal mining industries. Analysts say this effort could create tens of jobs, which Trump hailed as “explosive double-digital growth.”

Prospecting for Employment Gold

Flanked by coal miners, President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday that would rescind the moratorium on coal exploration and production, while eliminating many Obama-era climate protections. The ceremony took place at the soon-to-be-shuttered Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Trump and his supporters have insisted that energy independence for fossil fuel industries remains a key ingredient to economic growth. More importantly, rolling back existing curbs on pollution will save and create dozens of jobs, according to labor analysts.

The coal industry under Trump may experience a lucrative renaissance. As mining permits are renewed and national parks opened for digging, the United States could transform into the world’s largest operating mine. The inevitable repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would also play a pivotal role. With more workers exposed to pneumoconiosis (black lung disease), and unable to afford or qualify for treatment, mine operators would likely witness a regular cycle of deaths, paving the way for new candidates to seize consistent employment opportunities.

As the New York Times wrote, “The new order would mean that older coal plants that had been marked for closing would probably stay open for a few years longer, extending the demand for coal, said Robert W. Godby, an energy economist at the University of Wyoming.”

But he cautioned that job creation could suffer with the reliance on machines to automate processes. “So even if we saw an increase in coal production, we could see a decrease in coal jobs,” he added. Other critics have argued that renewable energy markets are outpacing traditional power suppliers in terms of job growth, as cited by CNN.

Strikingly, there are more US jobs in solar energy alone than in either oil-and-gas extraction or coal mining, according to a 2016 report from the International Renewable Energy Agency, or IRENA. “Jobs in the solar industry grew 12 times as fast as overall job creation in the US economy,” the report says. The country’s 209,000 solar industry jobs in 2015 outnumber those in oil and gas extraction -- 187,200 -- and coal mining -- 67,929.

Trump dismissed the figures as promoting “temp jobs for sissies.” He also pointed out the fallacy of green energy in a series of now deleted tweets: “The sun will eventually burn out. We know it. It can’t be avoided. Then what happens to solar jobs in a billion years or so? Gone. Sad. Just tragic. The wind doesn’t always blow. It dies down, you can’t count on that. The seas will wither and die after a few more oil spills. If we pin all our hopes on the ridiculous idea of alternative energy, we’ll have nothing left. Sad.”

Creating More Jobs Than a Person Can Count on One Hand

During the commemoration of Andrew Jackson’s 250th birthday, Donald Trump expressed his reverence for the president who signed the 1830 Indian Removal Act, which culminated in the historic Trail of Tears. Jackson’s forces expelled Choctaw Indians from their land. Throughout his tenure in office, Jackson also decimated several other Native American tribes. Removing the pesky squatters from fuel-rich parcels cleared the way for prosperity. Trump revived Jackson’s strategy in January by executing documents to pressure federal agencies to resume construction of the Dakota Access (DAPL) and Keystone XL pipelines.

By uprooting sacred sites belonging to the Standing Rock Sioux -- and displacing obstructionists through abusive law enforcement tactics that included firing beanbag bullets into crowds, pepper spraying protesters and turning water hoses on demonstrators in freezing temperatures -- Trump overcame the opposition and championed the creation of 35 jobs.

Unlike the employment conditions in green energy, which are literally fair-weather, the president’s pipeline initiative led to dozens of permanent positions. Economists say a restoration of the largely mechanized coal mining space could likewise produce tens of jobs for Americans.

Indirect Benefits: New Health Care Boom

As CNN reported in an interview with Ajay Gambhir, a Policy Research Fellow at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial College London, environmental scientists worry about the wider health implications of relaxing pollution controls. President Trump’s executive action would weaken a number of ecological protections, but it would also attenuate regulations that safeguard U.S. waterways. “By removing economy-harming regulations, the door will be left open for health-harming regulations,” said Gambhir.

Experts speaking to the Guardian voiced similar concerns in connection with DAPL, stating that the Standing Rock Sioux and other tribes will suffer dire consequences should a pipeline rupture -- “as one did in December just 150 miles from the Standing Rock reservation, spilling 176,000 gallons of crude oil.”

Aides for Scott Pruitt, Trump’s new EPA chief, explained that the cuts seek to prioritize job growth -- in the tens of tens -- over funding for dubious climate change research. For every dozen or so positions created through new mining or pipeline projects, countless more open as they are vacated by dying employees. Abolishing broad access to affordable health insurance is a major factor in the overall success of the program.

“Coal workers, by and large, rely on Obamacare,” said DeForrest Tayschon, a representative for Pruitt’s EPA team. “I think this is especially true because many have a high risk of contracting lung disease, or already exhibit pre-existing conditions. But they’re basically exploiting a burdensome welfare program. Doctors are losing money, nurses are losing money, insurers are losing money. Repealing Obamacare not only places health choices in the hands of patients, it ensures that consumer dollars go to businesses -- employers, in other words -- instead of the government.”

The positive outcomes would also reach Americans who do not work in the energy sector, with the exponential expansion of roles in medical fields.

“imagine that water tables become contaminated,” mused Tayschon. “Air quality doesn’t just plummet, the very atmosphere turns to poison. People will need medical attention. Lots of it. That translates to greater demand for healthcare professionals and insurance companies. Instead of saving their money to buy unnecessary luxuries like smartphones and organic produce, Americans will be investing all of their savings into health. It will revitalize the economy and boost it to unprecedented levels. For those who can’t afford treatments? New job openings for interested workers. I also think the funerary marketplace would thrive, again creating more jobs and more economic stimulation.”

(c) 2017. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. All articles are works of satire. See disclaimers.

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