Environmentalists And Workers Should Unite

On October 19, 2015 · 0 Comments

eawIn Whiting, Indiana, 1,650 people depend on the Amoco oil refinery for their livelihood. The future is tenuous for those hanging on to well-paying jobs in this industrial region. Another local refinery has already closed its doors, and the once-mighty steel industry is down from 20,000 workers to fewer than 8,000.

“Twenty years ago if you lost your job, you could just walk down the street and find another one,” says Bob Lofton, a board member of Local 7-1 of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, who works at the refinery. “Today it’s tough.”

While Lofton and his co-workers see Amoco as their lifeline, many local environmentalists view the refinery with suspicion. Fires and explosions are not uncommon. The groundwater has been contaminated from oil leaks. And Amoco routinely discharges high levels of chlorides that end up in Lake Michigan, as well as toxic metals such as selenium, arsenic and lead. “This can’t be good for the water or for the animals and people,” says Doreen Carey, executive director of the Grand Calumet Task Force, a grassroots …

Under Environment | Taged , , ,

Clean Air, Water, Never Really Costs Jobs

On October 6, 2014 · 0 Comments

cawnrcWhen Congress passed the Clean Air Act in 1990, the lobbying group the Business Roundtable predicted catastrophe in the workplace, with 200,000 to 2 million workers laid off. In the Pacific Northwest, 20,000 loggers lost their jobs between 1990 and 1992, and the forestry industry forecasts that 100,000 jobs in all will be slashed due to logging restrictions. Four years ago, Amoco closed down its oil refinery in Casper, Wyoming, citing a $150 million investment needed for environmental projects as a major contributor to its financial woes. The shutdown left more than 200 workers unemployed.

Stories like these, of workers losing their livelihoods to protect a small brown-and-white owl or to fulfill some faceless bureaucrat’s alleged regulatory whimsy, pit jobs versus the environment in a trade-off with enormous stakes. In fact, a third of those responding to a 1990 Wall Street Journal poll thought it likely or somewhat likely that their own jobs were threatened by environmental regulation. The loss of over 3 million blue-collar jobs during the last 15 years has been blamed on environmental regulation, …

Recent Comments