A major element of this election has been the battle between unions and the “Keep It in the Ground” (KIITG) campaign. On one side, we have the building and construction trades unions, who strongly support fracking, pipelines, compressor stations and just about everything shale-related. On the other side, we have the KIITG campaign wanting to completely ban fossil fuel development without any credence to the impact such a decision would have on the economy.
According to leaked emails from the Hillary Clinton campaign, it appears she sides with the unions and has joined the ranks of so many other Democrats who have denounced the KIITG movement, even suggesting those in the movement should “get a life.” In 2015, she told a group of unions:
“I’m already at odds with the most organized and wildest… They are after everything and I’m just talking through them. They come to my rallies and they yell at me and, you know, all the rest of it. They say, ‘Will you promise never to take any fossil fuels out of the earth ever again?’ No. I won’t promise that. Get a life, you know.’”
In fact, Clinton went on to say that she wants to defend natural gas:
“Bernie Sanders is getting lots of support from the most radical environmentalists because he’s out there every day bashing the Keystone pipeline. And, you know, I’m not into it for that. My view is, I want to defend natural gas. … I want to defend fracking under the right circumstances.”
It’s not surprising Clinton would make these statements. After all, fracking is saving America’s middle class. According to the folks at Harvard, shale has created major economic benefits that include:
“… supporting American jobs that pay, on average two times the median U.S. salary. Fully 50% of unconventional production jobs are middle-skills jobs, accessible to the average citizen.” (Emphasis added)
The building and construction trade unions know better than anyone what’s at stake with fracking bans, stopping pipeline work, compressor stations and natural gas-fired power plants. They know that in a very real way, we are talking about tens of thousands of jobs — their jobs. And they are and will be fighting for them and fighting back against 350.org, and all the other affiliated groups that continue to marginalize themselves.
In Ohio, we have watched this story play out right before our eyes, as we’ve embraced the $28 billion of investment into our economy and thousands of jobs that have been created. Over the past few years, shale-related jobs have supported millions in wages for the skilled trades, reduced unemployment by 66 percent, spurred manufacturing back to life and has even brought in investment from Asia to some of the poorest areas of the state.
When we talk about things like trade, and bringing American jobs back, particularly in manufacturing, we can do this by continuing to develop shale, and we can do both safely and while improving our environment.
President Obama has long supported fracking for its economic and environmental benefits. At the recent “South By South Lawn” (SXSL) event hosted at the White House, the president told the audience that when it comes to lowering emissions from power sources the KIITG movement has got it all wrong:
“Interestingly enough, one of the reasons why we’ve seen a significant reduction of coal usage in the United States is not because of our regulations. It’s been because natural gas got really cheap as a consequence of fracking.”
There’s simply no debate, shale development is a win-win for the economy and the environment, and groups like 350.org and other are increasingly marginalizing themselves with unrealistic demands that we ban all fossil fuels. While the media may cover their disrespectful and disruptive antics, the truth is, the vast majority of people who live and work in the areas of development support shale, and that is especially true in the battleground states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.