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I Survived the Rig Explosion That Caused the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill; This Is What I Saw

By Maximillian Alvarez and Leo Lindner - In These Times, October 7, 2022

It’s been 12 years since the catastrophic explosion that sank the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, killing 11 workers and causing the largest marine oil spill in human history. A lot of forgetting can happen in that time. A lot of cultural amnesia and historical distortion has set in over the past 12 years, whether that came in the form of a years-long PR campaign from British Petroleum (BP), the high-budget Hollywood-ification of the disaster in the 2016 movie starring Mark Wahlberg, or just the general lack of workers’ voices and stories in the media. 

In this episode, we talk with Leo Lindner, who worked for 10 years at the mud company M-I, the last five of which were spent working on the Deepwater Horizon. Leo was on the rig on April 20, 2010, the day of the explosion. We talk to Leo about his life, about moving to and growing up in Louisiana as a kid, working on tugboats and in oil fields, and about the experience of being a worker in the midst of one of the most devastating industrial and environmental disasters of the modern era.

Global Climate Jobs Conference 2022: Fossil fuel workers and climate jobs

Ending Federal Offshore Oil and Gas Lease Sales in Next Five-Year Program Would Have Little to No Impact on Gas Prices, Jobs, and Economy, According to New Analysis

By Jackson Chiappinelli, Dustin Renaud, and Kendall Dix - Earthjustice, June 29, 2022

Amid climate crisis and record gas prices, new analysis debunks oil and gas industry claims on need for new federal leasing by offering further evidence that ending new federal offshore leasing would not raise gas prices for nearly two decades, and would have virtually no net economic impact.

According to a new report out today, putting an end to new federal offshore leasing on public waters for the next five years:

  • Would result in less than a cent increase in gas prices at the pump over the next two decades
  • Would still maintain close to current levels of oil production capabilities for many years
  • Would not have the drastic impact on workers in the Gulf or the national economy that the fossil fuel industry has purported. Industry’s claims about economic impacts fail to account for the ways that energy and job markets gradually adapt and the burdensome climate costs averted from transitioning to clean energy
  • Result in between $23 billion and $365 billion dollars in climate benefits through 2040

The new report, which was supported by Earthjustice, Healthy Gulf, and Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (GCCLP) and published by Apogee Economics and Policy, a leader in energy production forecasts and benefit-cost assessments related to energy development, rebuts industry claims that ending leasing would significantly impact production and the economy. Instead, the report provides analysis that shows that the Biden administration can end new leases for the next five years without raising gas prices, preventing oil production, and negatively impacting jobs. The new report supports the opportunity for moving the United States away from fossil fuels and meaningfully addressing the worsening climate crisis, instead of giving into demands by the oil and gas industry to double down on decades of more carbon pollution.

For years, oil and gas development has contributed to worsening climate impacts, devastation for Gulf communities, environmental destruction, and dangerous conditions for offshore workers. Because federal offshore leasing locks in development for decades, putting an end to leasing is essential if the Biden administration is going to meet its national climate pollution and Paris Agreement targets and environmental justice commitments.

The new report comes just ahead of the release of the Interior Department’s next five-year offshore oil and gas leasing program. In the upcoming program, Interior will propose a schedule of federal offshore oil and gas lease sales for the next five years and has the option to not hold any new lease sales over that five-year period.

Shell sends ‘thug’ to stop industrial strike action on Prelude FLNG, says labor union

By Damon Evans - Energy Voice, June 2, 2022

In response to the formal notice served by lawyers representing the Offshore Alliance, a labor union, as well as the Electrical Trades Union (ETU), issued on 30 May, Shell has “now resorted to industrial thuggery in a desperate effort to try and stop protected industrial action on Prelude,” the Offshore Alliance claimed in a post on Facebook today.

“One of the Shell leads, who has been parachuted onto Prelude, is throwing his weight around like he’s some sort of big king dick…this self-styled hero tough guy has been doing his best to intimidate some of the younger female tech’s by demanding they tell him whether they are in the Union and whether they intend to take Protected Industrial Action,” claimed the Offshore Alliance.

“Shell’s senior management need to pull this idiot into line as the Offshore Alliance will bang both him and Shell into the Federal Court for breach of Freedom of Association provisions if he doesn’t pull his head in. Pull off your management thugs, Shell,” added the union.

A Shell spokesperson told Energy Voice that “Shell recognises the entitlement of all workers to exercise their rights, including the right to participate in industrial action.”

The Offshore Alliance has listed 19 activities that will be banned at various times from June 10 to June 21, as part of their plan to implement “rolling stoppages of work and work bans.”

“Shell have had two years to sort out our key bargaining claims and nothing less than tier 1 rates and conditions and job security are going to cut it,” said the union, which combines the industrial and organisational resources of the Australian Workers Union (AWU) and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), to provide effective representation of offshore construction, maintenance, catering, and rig workers in Western Australia.

Court Blocks Giant Gulf Fossil Fuel Lease Sale

By staff - Labor Network for Sustainability - March 2022

In November 2022 the Biden Administration prepared to sell oil and gas permits for 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico – the largest such sale in US history. Now a federal court has halted the sale because of the failure to adequately assess the impact on climate change.

The court ruled that the Biden Administration must consider the emissions and climate impacts in the leasing program. This ruling will stop not only Lease Sale 257 but future leasing decisions as well.

A sign-on letter urges President Joe Biden and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland not to appeal the decision.

The DOI should now accept the court’s ruling on Lease Sale 257 to vacate the sale and correct the Trump administration’s flawed climate impact assessments that falsely conclude that the resulting emissions from offshore drilling would have no impact on the climate crisis. The DOI should not continue to defend unlawful drilling for oil and gas in public waters in appellate court given the impacts on our climate, clear violations of federal environmental standards, and public commitments made by President Biden to end the practice. https://www.labor4sustainability.org/strike/climate-safe-energy-production-from-below/

‘It’s virtually impossible’: Transition to renewables at risk as oil and gas workers struggle to access green jobs

By Daisy Dunne - The Independent., June 22, 2021

The UK’s transition away from fossil fuels to renewable power could be put at risk by barriers facing oil and gas workers looking to move into green jobs, campaigners say.

A survey of 600 offshore workers found that those looking to move from the fossil fuel industry into green jobs in renewable power currently face costly training fees, discouraging them from making the transition.

Workers responding to the poll said they are routinely forced to pay out thousands of pounds of their own cash for training courses when moving between one employer and another in the offshore sector, some of which they have already paid to take part in for their current positions.

One 42-year-old who has worked in the oil and gas sector for 20 years said the cost of training could be putting workers off trying to move into green jobs.

“People really need help to make the transition because it’s just virtually impossible to do it yourself with the way things are at the moment,” he told The Independent. None of the oil and gas workers interviewed wanted to provide their names, for fear of losing work.

He added he was hoping to see more opportunities in renewable power as the country transitions away from using fossil fuels.

“For me, it’s about moving forward in my career and about moving forward for the environment at the same time. I’ve got two young children and I can see the changes that are happening to the climate, it’s obvious to me.”

One 43-year-old who has worked in the sector for 24 years said that he would “love” to see more opportunities in renewable energy.

“I was one of the people living in a bubble thinking ‘that might not be quite right’ when it came to climate change. But it’s really my kids that brought it home to me,” he told The Independent.

Offshore Oil and Gas Goal for Inclusion in the Regulations of The Sustainable Development Goals Act

By Noreen Mabiza - Ecology Action Center, June 2021

RECOMMENDED GOAL:

Offshore oil and gas development is phased out by 2030 in away that ensures a just transition for workers. Drilling in allprotected areas is banned.

RATIONALE:

There is currently no oil and gas production in NovaScotia’s offshore however actions by the provincialgovernment indicate a desire to keep growing theindustry. In March 2021 the provincial budget indicated anincreased investment in Nova Scotia’s offshore ($10 millioncompared to $1.8 million for renewables). In May 2021, theC-NSOPB announced a call for bids on parcels of landoffshore and if successful would grant a license to explore.

If the province expands offshore oil and gas, allassociated emissions with extraction and production willbe counted towards our emissions inventory while use ofthe fossil fuels will be attributed to the end user. In otherwords, Nova Scotia will not only continue to add to itsemissions through production but is also contributing tocontinued fossil fuel use elsewhere. What the provinceneeds to focus on as we work towards achieving net-zeroby 2050 is a shift away from fossil fuels and the justtransition of fossil fuel workers to green jobs.

Just transition is a social justice framework for facilitatingthe shift to a zero-carbon economy. A just transition of theoil and gas sector would mean that the costs of phasingout the fossil fuels are not unfairly borne by the workersand that the benefits of a clean economy are fairlydistributed. Key components of this transition includecentering the voices of workers, reskilling and upskillingthe workforce and shifting investments from fossil fuelstoward green jobs.

Read the text (PDF).

The oil and gas industry is failing its offshore workers. It’s time to give them a way out

By Helle Abelvik-Lawson - Greenpeace, March 31, 2021

Offshore oil and gas workers have been the backbone of Britain’s energy industry for fifty years. So it would seem that the government’s decision to continue issuing offshore oil licences in the North Sea would be welcome.

But all across the North East – from the Humber Estuary to Teesside in England, and all the way up to Aberdeen in Scotland – things aren’t actually going that well. The oil and gas industry is volatile, and communities are suffering from this volatility.

After years of decline, falling prices due to financial crises, Covid, and other economic shocks thanks to global oil politics, the UK’s oil and gas workers have been dealt a raw deal. Restructuring by major oil companies and their contractors and agencies has meant insecure work and falling salaries. And it’s some of the most dangerous work out there.

Now, the government’s focus on new oil licences ‘with climate conditions’ attached, is just kicking offshore workers’ problems into the long grass.

It shows how the government has so far been unable to get a grip on the needs of the UK’s energy key workers. According to a 2020 survey of offshore oil and gas workers, these overwhelmingly centre around government support to transition towards work in a stable, growing renewables sector.

This is not the way the government should be treating the country’s energy key workers. And it shows there is no government plan to help offshore workers transition smoothly to work in renewable energy.

Plus, If everyone copied the UK’s approach to fossil fuels, our globally agreed climate targets would not be met. The UK’s not exactly leading by example, ahead of hosting the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow this year.

Why major unions are wary of the move to wind and solar jobs

By Ella Nilsen - Vox, March 19, 2021

President Joe Biden wants to quickly move the United States toward clean energy jobs in wind and solar. But unions — some of Biden’s strongest allies — are skeptical about the transition to green energy.

Biden and congressional Democrats are poised to introduce a large infrastructure plan that is supposed to deliver on two promises: putting job creation into overdrive, and decarbonizing the economy, with an aggressive goal of powering 100 percent of America’s electricity sector with clean energy by 2035.

To achieve both goals, the administration is betting on a massive push toward wind and solar. Renewables already produced 20 percent of US electricity in 2020, and expanding them further to decarbonize the economy necessarily means phasing out fossil fuels. But even as wind and solar production has increased, wages and the rate of unionized jobs in renewables haven’t kept up with the industries they’d be replacing. In order to make more profits, many companies want to keep their costs low — which includes keeping wages low.

“The fossil fuel industries were unionized in long struggles that were classic labor stories,” said University of Rhode Island labor historian Erik Loomis. “Now, they’re in decline and you have these new industries. But a green capitalist is still a capitalist, and they don’t want a union.”

About 4 percent of solar industry workers and 6 percent of wind workers are unionized, according to the 2020 US Energy and Employment Report. The percentage of unionized workers in natural gas, nuclear, and coal power plants is about double that, around 10 to 12 percent unionized (although still not a huge amount). In transportation, distribution, and storage jobs — which exist largely in the fossil fuel sector — about 17 percent of the jobs are unionized. Still, the solar and wind unionization rates are in line with the low national rate of unionized workers in the private sector, which is about 6.3 percent.

This is one of the big reasons there’s a real hesitancy on the part of many unions and workers to transition from fossil fuel to renewable jobs: They are worried the jobs waiting for them in wind and solar won’t pay as well or have union protections. This has long been a tension point between environmental groups and labor, often exploited by the right wing. Even though alliances between the two are forming, those underlying tensions won’t vanish easily.

The Road Towards a Carbon Free Society: A Nordic-German Trade Union Cooperation on Just Transition

By Dr Philipp Fink - Friedrich Ebrt Stiftung, December 2020

This project, “The Road Towards a Carbon Free Society A Nordic-German Trade Union Cooperation on Just Transition”, is a collaboration between the Council of Nordic Trade Unions (NFS), the Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung (FES) and the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB).

Represented by the Council of Nordic Trade Unions (NFS) in the project are 13 national Trade Union Confederations within NFS, from five Nordic Countries: Denmark (FH, Akademikerne), Finland (SAK, STTK), Iceland (ASÍ, BSRB, BHM), Norway (LO-N, Unio, YS) and Sweden (LO-S, TCO, Saco).

About the reports

A total of six country reports on the Just Transition path of the participating countries (Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) have been formulated.

Each contains an analysis of the climate policies, economic and societal consequences, an evaluation of the respective national instruments and offers European perspectives.

The main findings of the country reports are brought together in a synthesis. It features policy recommendations that aim to help guide the transition to a decarbonised society and an economy that is just and sustainable. The reports and their results are presented and discussed in a series of events nationally as well as in terms of Nordic and European cooperation and at the international level.

Synthesis

A Just Transition towards a carbon neutral future is the most urgent environmental, social and economic issue of our times. This project aims to develop strategies and requirements from a trade union perspective on how to manage the process to a carbon free society.

The participating labour organisations are united in their vision that this goal can only be reached if the social costs of this transition process are socially mitigated.

This means harmonising efforts to combat climate change with the aim of ensuring decent working and living conditions.

To this end, the participating labour organisations have not only analysed their respective countries’ transition path towards a fossil free future but have also formulated joint policy recommendations for the national and European arenas, jointly adopted by the NFS and the DGB in November and December 2020.

The ensuing discussions and debate have strengthened the cooperation and dialogue between the Nordic and the German trade union movements on common challenges and solutions.

Read the text (Link).

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