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Press Release: Unions call for accountability in HyVelocity negotiations with Department of Energy

By Veronica Serrano - Texas Climate Jobs, January 24, 2024

Austin, Texas – Today the Texas AFL-CIO, a state federation of labor unions representing more than 240,000 members in Texas, passed a resolution on the HyVelocity Hub at the 2024 COPE Convention. The resolution urges HyVelocity “to immediately resolve its differences with Texas labor organizations by committing to binding community workforce agreements and labor peace agreements to ensure a just transition for unionized fossil fuel workers impacted by the transition to clean hydrogen” and “urges the Department of Energy, and all Texas policymakers to hold HyVelocity accountable to union concerns.”

Additional information: Texas Unions, Community, and Climate Groups Release Statement on HyVelocity Hydrogen Hub

Additional Information: Texas Climate Jobs Project statement on DOE’s HyVelocity’s decision 

Additional information: Texas Climate Jobs Project files HyVelocity public information requests

Texas Unions, Community, and Climate Groups Release Statement on HyVelocity Hydrogen Hub

By staff - Texas Climate Jobs Project, October 25, 2023

HyVelocity is poised to receive $1.2 billion to build Texas Gulf hydrogen hub

Houston, Texas – Today the Texas Climate Jobs Project, Commission Shift, Air Alliance Houston, West Street Recovery, the Coalition for Environment, Equity, and Resilience, Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter, Sunrise Movement ATX, Texas AFL-CIO, and the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation released the following statement in response to the Department of Energy’s decision to move forward and negotiate with HyVelocity to award $1.2 billion to build a hydrogen hub in the Texas Gulf:

“We are deeply distressed by the Department of Energy’s decision to advance the HyVelocity hydrogen application in Texas. Through the Department of Energy Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub program, the Biden administration is poised to transfer $1.2 billion in taxpayer dollars to HyVelocity, whose application sponsors include ExxonMobil and Chevron, and whose supporting partners include Amazon, Governor Greg Abbott, and the Texas Railroad Commission.” 

“Our organizations are on the front lines of environmental justice, labor organizing, and community work to reduce carbon emissions and improve living conditions across the Texas Gulf, and HyVelocity’s lack of transparency and refusal to make adequate concrete commitments leave us concerned. We urge the Department of Energy to compel HyVelocity to resolve its differences with our organizations before choosing to move the applicant further in the process.” 

“This includes, at a minimum: prioritizing projects that use renewable energy like wind and solar to help reduce overall carbon emissions; binding community workforce agreements for construction workers with strong Justice40 commitments; and binding labor peace agreements to ensure a just transition for fossil fuel workers.”

“Enough is enough”: Demanding transparency, Texas labor coalition files open records requests for HyVelocity hydrogen application details

By Veronica Serrano - Texas Climate Jobs Project, October 13, 2023

Houston, Texas – Today Texas Climate Jobs Project, a nonprofit organization working with more than twenty labor organizations in Texas including the Texas AFL-CIO, announced it has filed public information requests with public bodies across Texas that are listed as partners on HyVelocity’s website

Today’s announcement to pursue more information about the HyVelocity hydrogen hub comes after the Department of Energy’s decision to select the HyVelocity application as one of its regional clean hydrogen hubs.

“Enough is enough,” said Bo Delp, executive director of Texas Climate Jobs Project. “HyVelocity, which is partnered with some of the largest and wealthiest corporations on Earth, is poised to receive $1.2 billion in hard earned taxpayer dollars and Texas families deserve to evaluate these projects in the light of day.”

“While we welcome the concept of a hydrogen hub in Texas, without concrete agreements in place with labor organizations this application could have profoundly negative impacts on working people in Texas.” 

Workers in Texas face growing racial and economic inequality and worsening safety standards, and HyVelocity has failed to provide meaningful answers for how it intends to mitigate these deeply concerning dynamics in the Texas economy. 

Texas Climate Jobs Project and its coalition of more than twenty Texas labor organizations are calling on HyVelocity to commit to binding community workforce agreements and labor peace agreements to address these concerns and ensure a just transition for fossil fuel workers.

Link: Website

Link: Digital thread on today’s announcement

Texas Climate Jobs Statement on Department of Energy Awarding Funds to HyVelocity Hub for Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub Program

By Veronica Serrano - Texas Climate Jobs Project, October 13, 2023

Texas Climate Jobs Project and the Texas AFL-CIO released the following statement in response to the Department of Energy’s decision to award the HyVelocity Hub application federal grant dollars to continue its pursuit of developing a hydrogen hub in the Gulf Coast region of Texas:

“A hydrogen hub in the Gulf Coast region has the potential to transform industries in Texas, and for more than a year labor organizations in Texas have raised concerns about the lack of transparency involved in the project as well as its impact on workers. Now that these corporations are poised to receive taxpayer dollars to develop this hub, it is critical to ensure that all involved in this project redouble efforts to ensure that public funds are used to create safe, family-sustaining jobs.

We support the concept of hydrogen hubs and what they can bring to Texas, but we are disappointed in the lack of any real commitment from Texas applicants to ensure that workers have a voice in the process. The Biden administration has consistently delivered for workers around clean energy projects across the country and we urge them to hold Texas applicants accountable to make sure that the needs of workers and communities in Texas are addressed on these hydrogen hub projects. 

Workers in Texas face growing racial and economic inequality and worsening safety standards, which makes strong labor standards ever more necessary today. Texas is the only state in the U.S. that doesn’t require employers to provide workers’ compensation insurance and Texas also leads in worker deaths. We are ready to work together to ensure that the growing hydrogen industry in Texas creates jobs in which workers can support their families and where they can go home safely every night.”

Texas unions, faith community call for transparency and labor standards in hydrogen energy planning

By Veronica Serrano - Texas Climate Jobs Project, October 11, 2023


Department of Energy expected to announce next steps for $8 billion program on Friday

Union members and community activists took part in a banner drop to bring attention to lack of transparency, commitment to strong labor standards around a planned hydrogen hub in the Houston area 

Action follows concerns raised by Texas congressional delegation

Houston, TX — Union members and community activists gathered near the outside of the Hydrogen North America conference and dropped a 15-foot banner from a Houston overpass and picketed, demanding transparency and a commitment now to strong labor standards from HyVelocity Hub planners.

The HyVelocity Hub is applying for taxpayer dollars to build a clean hydrogen hub in the Gulf as part of the Department of Energy’s $8 billion Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub program. HyVelocity states its vision for a Texas hydrogen economy “could add an estimated $100 billion to Texas’ GDP.”

“The HyVelocity Hub is seeking taxpayer assistance for this project, and we have a collective responsibility to ensure that our dollars result in high-paying jobs performed by skilled union workers, and that safety is at the forefront,” said Bo Delp, executive director of Texas Climate Jobs Project. 

As heat strikes, so do workers

By Katie Myers - Grist, August 1, 2023

The heatwave enveloping much of the world is so deadly that, in Europe, it has acquired two hellish mythical names: Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guards Hades, and Charon, the man who, legend has it, ferries the dead to the afterlife.

Workers are taking a stand against the brutal conditions, using walkouts, strikes, and protests to call attention to the outsize danger the heat poses to the people who must work outdoors or in conditions where air condition isn’t available. The ongoing threat has taken the lives of people, from a construction worker in the Italian city of Lodi to farmworkers in Florida, and letter carriers in Texas. 

The organizing efforts started in Greece, where workers in the tourism industry — which accounts for 20% of the country’s GDP — are chafing under the strain. Athens’s most famous archaeological site, the Acropolis, closed for a few days earlier this month, but even as the government reopened it, temperatures continued soaring to 111 degrees Fahrenheit. The Acropolis’s staff, which is unionized through the Panhellenic Union for the Guarding of Antiquities voted to strike during the hottest four hours of each day.

Why extreme heat is so deadly for workers

By Siri Chilukuri - Grist, July 25, 2023

Climate change is creating dangerously hot conditions for construction workers, mail carriers, delivery drivers, airline workers, farmworkers, and more. Conditions that were previously uncomfortable are now unbearable, and the failure of companies — along with some state governments — to catch up to the new normal of heat has had deadly consequences

U.S. heat-related fatalities have increased in recent years, according to an NPR analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data that found the three-year average of worker heat deaths has doubled since the early 1990s. In the decade spanning 2011 to 2021, heat killed more than 436 people on the job. 

The myriad of factors that influence how heat is actually felt can be difficult to pin down, but a metric known as the heat index — which combines temperature and humidity — can get close. Last week’s heat index figures were eye-popping, reaching 119 degrees Fahrenheit in Corpus Christi, Texas, and 113 F in both Phoenix and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

“The heat index is what really worries me,” said Tevita ’Uhatafe, a former airlines-operation worker who’s now the vice president of the Texas chapter of the AFL-CIO union. “Because that’s what we’re actually dealing with when we’re working outside.” 

Airline-operations positions often mean working outdoors with limited shade. Plus, being surrounded by the sheet metal of airplanes and the concrete of the tarmac can make it even hotter during periods of extreme heat. Concrete, for example, can actually contribute to rising temperatures

By mid-century, a quarter of Americans will experience heat index temperatures above 125 F for at least one day a year, according to a statistical model by the nonprofit First Street Foundation. Areas surrounding the Texas-Mexico border will experience temperatures above 100 F for more than a third of the year. In addition, researchers from the Union of Concerned Scientists and the University of California Merced found that outdoor workers stand to lose more than $39.3 billion in income annually by the middle of the century from reduced hours due to heat risk. 

Mitigating Methane in Texas: Reducing Emissions, Creating Jobs, and Raising Standards

By Greg Cumpton, PhD and Christopher Agbo - Ray Marshall Center and Texas Climate Jobs Project, May 2023

A new report from the Texas Climate Jobs Project and the Ray Marshall Center at the University of Texas, Austin, suggests that efforts for preventing and plugging methane leaks from oil and gas operations could result in the creation of thousands of jobs throughout Texas.

Under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA's) recent methane reduction rule and a new methane fee under the Inflation Reduction Act, the oil and gas industry is expected to be hard hit, potentially resulting in the loss of untold jobs in oil and gas producing regions, notably in the Permian Basin, where nearly 40% of all oil production in the U.S. and nearly 15% of its natural gas production occurs.

However, the report suggests that an estimated 19,000 to 35,000 jobs could be created in Texas alone to mitigate such leaks. Specifically, the report suggests a significant workforce would need to be created to measure and detect methane leaks, decommission orphaned wells, replace components that leak gas, install flare systems in storage tanks, plug abandoned wells and more.

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

Will offshore wind bring ‘good-paying, union jobs’? Texas workers aren’t so sure

By Emily Pontecorvo - Grist, October 14, 2022

Fires fueled by climate crisis expose the intersecting injustices incarcerated people face and the comprehensive reforms needed for a Just Transition:

The Biden administration is gearing up to turn the Gulf of Mexico, long a hub for offshore oil and gas drilling, into a new city of skyscraping offshore wind turbines. Opening up the Gulf to wind development is part of President Joe Biden’s goal to employ “tens of thousands of workers” to establish 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030. But in Texas, workers are worried that the new industry will continue the low-wage, unsafe, exploitative conditions that pervade the construction and offshore oil industries there.

For the past year, a coalition of Texas labor unions, along with their allies in Congress and in the environmental movement, have been lobbying the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, or BOEM, to make sure that doesn’t happen.

“We saw the opportunity,” said Bo Delp, the executive director of the Texas Climate Jobs Project, a nonprofit that advocates for the unionization of clean energy jobs. “But we also saw the danger.”

There’s no doubt the offshore wind industry will bring a flood of jobs to communities along the Gulf. There will be jobs manufacturing wind turbines, shipping them out to sea, and installing them; building transmission lines and electrical substations; and operating and maintaining the equipment. But contrary to the White House’s promise of “good-paying, union jobs,” there’s no guarantee they will come with decent wages, benefits, or safety standards — especially in Texas.

Workers demand labor protections at Austin Energy base rate rally

By Kali Bramble - Austin Monitor, September 27, 2022

It was an unusually lively morning outside Austin Energy Headquarters last Saturday, as a coalition of workers, environmentalists and community leaders gathered to air their grievances with the publicly owned utility.

With a potential increase to residential rates on the horizon, the Texas Climate Jobs Action Fund led the diverse group of unions and civic organizations in a demand to prioritize affordability, safe working conditions and clean energy practices. Speakers from Electrical Workers Local 520, Texas AFL-CIO, Sierra Club, PODER and the Sunrise Movement all shared the podium, with Council members Ann Kitchen and Kathie Tovo also making appearances.

“’A better future isn’t possible for working people, it’ll cut into our profits …. We can’t build a greener, more sustainable future with workers that are well compensated, well trained, have health care, who are treated with respect and can return home safely to a thriving family.’ That’s what they’re saying at Austin Energy,” Local 520 member Ryan Pollock said, to a chorus of jeers. “We’re all here today because we know that a better future is possible, that we deserve that better future, and that we’re here to fight for it.”

With plans to update its base rates for 2023, Austin Energy has come under fire for a rate proposal critics say would unfairly impact low-income consumers and run counterproductive to the city’s environmental goals. Chief concerns include a 150 percent increase to the fixed residential service fee from $10 to $25 per month, as well as a restructuring of pricing tiers that would move away from charging steeper premiums for the highest-percentile energy users.

Compounding frustrations is Austin Energy’s recent announcement of a $20 increase in pass-through rates to take effect in November.


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