Non-Trump Topic - A Big Hole In The Argument That Ditching Fossil Fuels Will Kill Jobs

Discussion in 'Politics' started by JoeNation, Jan 16, 2021.

  1. JoeNation

    JoeNation Patron Saint of Idiots

    There’s A Big Hole In The Argument That Ditching Fossil Fuels Will Kill Jobs
    The clean energy transition isn’t Big Oil’s only problem. Oil and gas jobs have been disappearing for a long time.

    Every time a politician talks about climate policy or a newspaper runs a big story on the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, the question of jobs comes up. For those who are opposed to the transition, the common criticism is that moving away from coal, oil and gas would leave hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work. For those in favor, the question is how to train hundreds of thousands of oil and gas workers for different sorts of jobs.

    Rarely do the talking points — or the debates that follow — get into the details of what’s actually happening in the oil and gas labor market: that it’s an industry already grappling with a dwindling talent pipeline and that a push toward automation was making tens of thousands of oil workers redundant even before the coronavirus pandemic wiped out more jobs.

    The industry lost more than 100,000 jobs between March and August 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and consulting firm Deloitte (so certainly not the worst-hit sector, but hard-hit nonetheless). Even if oil demand and prices increase, not all of those jobs are likely to come back, said Ken Medlock, senior director of the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

    That’s because it’s not just the pandemic that’s hurting the industry. Other factors are cutting down the oil and gas workforce as well.

    First, as with most industries, there’s automation, which has reduced the number of jobs available in the energy sector over the last several years. When oil prices crashed in 2014, the Houston area shed some 86,000 oil and gas jobs and by 2019 had regained only 24,400 of those jobs. Why? In large part because in the wake of the crash, oil companies became more efficient and began to embrace automation in a big way.

    “The automation trend has continued,” Medlock said. “So when production grew again from 2017 to 2019, that growth didn’t require a lot of additional labor input.”

    Throw global trends toward electrification and clean energy into the mix and the job market wasn’t looking that rosy for oil and gas even before the pandemic.

    If you’re a 30-year-old graduating with an MBA and you want to stay in Houston and you want to be in energy, you’re taking a very different look than you would have 10 years ago.Jeff Bishop, CEO of Key Capture Energy
    And even if the job demand does rebound to any extent, between policy and economic shifts and dwindling social approval of the industry, oil companies may find themselves struggling to hire.

    As fossil fuels flag, all signs point to a strong future for renewable energy.

    “Looking at global investments in the energy space, it’s all going to wind, solar, batteries, EVs [electrical vehicles]. It’s not going into fossil fuels,” said Jeff Bishop, CEO of the large-scale battery company Key Capture Energy. “Fossil fuels aren’t going away, don’t get me wrong, especially not in Texas. But if you’re a 30-year-old graduating with an MBA and you want to stay in Houston and you want to be in energy, you’re taking a very different look than you would have 10 years ago.”

    Last week — a century ago by 2021 standards — social media lit up with various opinions about a New York Times story that highlighted the waning fortunes of new college graduates looking to work in the oil and gas industry. Some sympathized with young people graduating into a pandemic, but most wondered why they had chosen to work in the industry in the first place, given what we know about both its impact on climate change and its financial prospects in years to come.

    But actually, Bishop and Medlock believe the changing energy landscape is not such a big problem for the sorts of white-collar workers profiled by the Times, whose skills are largely transferable to any segment of the energy sector. In fact, according to Bishop, it’s a boon to clean energy startups like his to be able to hire oil and gas workers.

    “I can teach people power, but I can’t teach people the process, procedures and mindset for these big energy projects,” he said. “Just in Texas alone, we’re putting over $100 million of capital to work and we need a level of rigor around project management, safety and process that oil and gas companies are really good at.”

    His company specifically recruits current and former gas employees and recent grads who studied for oil and gas jobs.

    “People call Houston the energy capital of the world, but Houston is really an engineering and logistics capital,” Medlock said. “Those skillsets — managing a supply chain, handling materials, chemical engineering — that’s all transferable.”

    This is not to say that there’s a simple one-to-one transition from oil and gas jobs to clean energy jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics still doesn’t collect data on solar and wind jobs, so the stats that exist are cobbled together, but there are indisputably fewer jobs in clean energy than currently exist in the fossil fuel industry. And while white-collar workers can hop around the energy sector, it’s not as straightforward for the various blue-collar workers in oil and gas. Welders can work just as easily on a wind farm as an oil rig, but the skills of other oil rig workers are pretty specific to drilling.

    The idea of employing out-of-work oil hands to plug and remediate abandoned oil wells has been floated a few times in recent years as a transitional job for these blue-collar workers while the economy shifts away from fossil fuels. Although oil companies are legally required to decommission out-of-use wells and drill sites, and return the land or sea to its pre-drilling condition, it’s fairly common for companies to declare bankruptcy before these asset retirement obligations (AROs) are fulfilled. Consequently, there are now an estimated 1 to 3 million abandoned wells in the U.S. in need of remediation.

    Some pro-transition activists ― like Theron Horton, a strategist with the ARO Working Group ― have suggested that oil workers could be hired by the federal or state governments to perform this work as they train for new jobs.

    “There’s 10 years of steady jobs for these people, not boom and bust the way it has been in the oil fields,” Horton said. “And it’s work that their skillset and identity is aligned with. Plus, it leaves them in situ — they don’t have to move, their kids stay in the same schools. Ten years is a long time to transition, so it’s really common sense convergence here. It’s also worker solidarity, for these people in the fields not to feel like they’re abandoned by society.”

    But despite the number of such wells, others, like Medlock, are not convinced that such an approach would put a large enough number of people back to work.

    Meanwhile, in the white-collar world, if oil prices do rebound, it’s more likely that oil companies will be chasing graduates than the other way around. The fossil fuel industry has been worried for years about the lack of interest shown by younger generations in working for oil and gas companies. Even a few years ago, young people saw careers in the industry as “difficult, dangerous and harmful to society.” Between the 2014 crash and the pandemic, now it also seems financially unstable. So even as they lay off workers in the field, oil companies continue to recruit at universities to avoid creating a “generation gap” in their workforce, a problem the industry grappled with in the 1980s.

    Unlike the ’80s, oil companies these days are competing for workers with more stable and more popular industries, including clean energy.

    Bishop said he’s not worried that the people he’s hired away from oil and gas will defect back to fossil fuels if prices hit $100 a barrel again.

    “People want stable, well-paying jobs that have purpose,” he said, adding that he’s regularly contacted by individuals who have an oil and gas education but are interested in his firm, “especially folks coming out of business school. They know they’re gonna be in energy, and they see the writing on the wall: You need to be in the energy transition now.”
  2. FryDaddyJr

    FryDaddyJr Well-Known Member

    some of the biggest investors of clean energy are actually fossil fuel industries.
  3. Mopar Dude

    Mopar Dude Well-Known Member

    Job loss has been a problem since industry discovered long ago that automation is cheaper and more reliable than people. That was mentioned in the article.... The problem that isn’t considered is the working class folks that will not be able to afford to fill their tanks to look for better work as time goes on..... Anyone else notice has prices creeping up as we get nearer Inauguration Day? My money says that trend will continue long into the foreseeable future.
  4. FryDaddyJr

    FryDaddyJr Well-Known Member

    40 mpg vehicles have and are available. people choose not to buy them. The US taxpayer also ends up paying for black lung disease and toxic cleanup from coal mining, penny wise, dollar foolish
  5. Mopar Dude

    Mopar Dude Well-Known Member

    Thing is.... Typical working class folks can’t afford to just go out and purchase a new vehicle on a whim..... Oh well, with the Dems running the show I am sure we can give cars away along with college educations, health care and whatever else will keep their voting base intact.
  6. FryDaddyJr

    FryDaddyJr Well-Known Member

    I didn't say new. Plenty of used civics and corollas out there that people can buy for under 10k that get 35-40 mpg. people choose not to buy them.
  7. JoeNation

    JoeNation Patron Saint of Idiots

    I think the point of the article is that you can't stifle innovation and progress and shouldn't for made-up reasons that make no sense. We are the country of innovation and it is what makes us dominant in the tech world. I find it curious that the same people that trumpet Capitalism regularly are really advocating for crony Capitalism. Green energy, for example, has benefits that range from healthier people to actually preserving the planet for future generations. How can old technology like fossil fuels begin to compete with those advantages? They offer nothing other than climate catastrophe on a global scale and of course the preservation of the fossil fuel elites. I think focusing on the dwindling number of fossil fuel jobs as a reason not to move aggressively towards green energy makes absolutely zero sense.
  8. Mopar Dude

    Mopar Dude Well-Known Member

    I agree with that logic. And ultimately green energy will win the day. It is inevitable. These things have to run their natural course though. I was a poor man in the 1970’s when we had to start using unleaded gasoline. Most stations has both leaded and unleaded gasoline available until the thing ran its natural course. If leaded gasoline was immediately no longer available in 1977, that would have meant folks like me could no longer get to work. It’s the same kind of deal today. We can’t shove it down people’s throats. Give people an ultimatum that they will drive battery powered cars in four years.... You think we have problems now? I’m not saying that is the agenda or anything, just an example..... Who would have dreamed of painting their house with latex paint in 1970? Now that’s the way to go. Just allow it to come on naturally and it will.
  9. JoeNation

    JoeNation Patron Saint of Idiots

    You have to realize that it would never be implemented that way. Everything is phased in no matter the change. That is just how everyone does it. We could accelerate the change to green energy with a focus on new technology by the government and by stopping the subsidizing of fossil fuels. I don't believe that there is anything natural about the process. I think that it has to be deliberate and planned. I think the first and greatest step was just taken. We elected a party that believes in man-made climate change and isn't beholden to the fossil fuel industry. That will go along way towards realizing a future with green energy and not the planet killing fossil fuels we currently depend on.
    FryDaddyJr likes this.
  10. FryDaddyJr

    FryDaddyJr Well-Known Member

    You'd have to be naïve to believe people are just going to step up and do the right thing when it comes to clean air and water. There are still dolts who hate the EPA standards of vehicles.
  11. JoeNation

    JoeNation Patron Saint of Idiots

    This is the type of tech advancements that will ease us off of fossil fuels.

    Electric car batteries with five-minute charging times produced
    Source: The Guardian

    Batteries capable of fully charging in five minutes have been produced in a factory for the first time, marking a significant step towards electric cars becoming as fast to charge as filling up petrol or diesel vehicles.

    Electric vehicles are a vital part of action to tackle the climate crisis but running out of charge during a journey is a worry for drivers. The new lithium-ion batteries were developed by the Israeli company StoreDot and manufactured by Eve Energy in China on standard production lines.

    StoreDot has already demonstrated its “extreme fast-charging” battery in phones, drones and scooters and the 1,000 batteries it has now produced are to showcase its technology to carmakers and other companies. Daimler, BP, Samsung and TDK have all invested in StoreDot, which has raised $130m to date and was named a Bloomberg New Energy Finance Pioneer in 2020.

    The batteries can be fully charged in five minutes but this would require much higher-powered chargers than used today. Using available charging infrastructure, StoreDot is aiming to deliver 100 miles of charge to a car battery in five minutes in 2025.

    Read more:
    c jay and FryDaddyJr like this.
  12. c jay

    c jay Well-Known Member

    That is great. It opens up electric city to city transportation.

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