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oil workers

The labour-environment nexus: Exploring new frontiers in labour law

VICTORY!! at Ethos Light Turbine shop in Houston

Will the US have the workforce it needs for a clean-energy transition?

By Betony Jones and David Roberts - Volts, June 16, 2023

Will the US clean-energy transition be hampered by a shortage of electricians, plumbers, and skilled construction workers? In this episode, Betony Jones, director of the DOE’s Office of Energy Jobs, talks about the challenge of bringing a clean energy workforce to full capacity and the need for job opportunities in communities impacted by diminished reliance on fossil fuels.

Climate Justice in the North Sea

Offshore: North Sea Oil workers on the future of our energy system

Keeping California’s oil in the ground will improve health but affect jobs

By Harrison Tasoff - The Current, May 18, 2023

As society reckons with climate change, there’s a growing call to keep fossil fuels right where they are, in the ground. But the impact of curtailing oil production will depend on the policies we implement to achieve this.

An interdisciplinary team of researchers investigated the carbon emissions, labor and health implications of several policies to reduce oil extraction, with a special focus on how the effects vary across different communities in California. Their results, published in Nature Energy, illustrate the tradeoffs between different strategies. For instance, models banning oil extraction near communities produced greater health benefits across the state, but they also led to more job losses, with disadvantaged communities feeling about one third of both the costs and the benefits.

With a goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2045, California is currently implementing some of the world’s most ambitious climate policies. As the country’s seventh largest oil-producing state and the world’s fifth largest economy, California provides a unique setting to study supply-side decarbonization policies. It already has a carbon cap-and-trade program and is currently debating a setback policy that would ban new oil production near communities.

Many considerations

Petroleum production is a multifaceted endeavor. The greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels are the main driver of climate change. Extracting these resources also emits CO2 into the environment, in addition to air pollution and toxic substances. Any policies seeking to curb oil production will affect people for better and worse. The industry employed 25,000 Californians in 2019, and provides tax revenue to local governments. “Our analysis is trying to quantify what those tradeoffs look like as the state considers different policies,” said co-author Kyle Meng, an associate professor in UC Santa Barbara’s economics department and the Environmental Markets Lab (emLab) at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management.

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).

Talking Union, Talking Climate

By staff - Labor Network for Sustainability, April 30, 2023

How are workers around the world viewing climate change and its impact on their jobs, their labor conditions, and their industries? For a quick, revealing glimpse at the answer, take a look at the 15-minute video Talking Union, Talking Climate. It provides a dialogue among workers in California, Norway, and Nigeria about labor conditions in the fossil fuel industry, the shift to a green economy, and what a just transition might be.

The video was made by Vivian Price, a former union electrician, now professor and researcher on labor and climate change and a co-author of the LNS report Workers and Communities in Transition: Report of the Just Transition Listening Project. The three workers are Charlie Sandoval, United Steelworkers, California, Kristian Enoksen,Industri Energi, Norway, Orike Didi, PENGASSAN, Nigeria.

Rosemary: Platform at XRTU Hub, The Big One

Key findings from our investigation into the people who got sick after cleaning up BP’s oil spill

By Sara Sneath and Oliver Laughland - The Guardian, April 23, 2023

Thousands of people have sued BP for long-term health conditions they claim stem from the dirty work of cleaning up BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill 13 years ago. The explosion marked the biggest industrial disaster in US history, which saw thousands of Gulf coast residents, many from poor fishing communities, take part in the cleanup effort.

The Guardian spoke with two dozen former workers, used computer programming to analyze a random sample of cases and combed through legal filings to understand the scope of the public health disaster.

BP declined to comment on detailed questions, citing ongoing litigation.

Here are some key findings:

Data analysis showed prevalence of health conditions among those who have sued

Among those who are sick there is a shared feeling of exasperation and anger as the chances of receiving damages and acknowledgment via the courts rapidly dwindles. They boated out into the Gulf to try to block the oil from coming ashore with floating barriers, called booms. They worked 12-hour shifts in the middle of the summer to save the wetlands and say they got sick as a result.

The Guardian used computer programming to analyze a random sample of 400 lawsuits out of the nearly 5,000 filed against BP. Many of the people in our sample have more than one ailment. Sinus issues are the most common chronic health problem listed among those who have sued, followed by eye, skin and respiratory ailments. Chronic rhinosinusitis, a swelling of the sinuses in the nose and head that causes nasal drip and pain in the face, was the most common condition. Two per cent have been diagnosed with cancer, a number some experts believe will continue to rise.


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