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Policy Briefing: Protecting Energy Workers and Communities in a Just COVID-19 Recovery

by Charlie Jiang

April 28, 2020

Our response to the COVID-19 crisis must include immediate relief and long-term economic security for the energy workers and communities who have powered our society for decades.

© David McNew / Greenpeace

A new policy briefing from Greenpeace USA calls on Congress to create a national Worker and Community Protection Fund (WCPF) to support fossil fuel workers, their families, and impacted communities in the current oil industry contraction and long-term energy transition.

Download the full policy briefing here.

Summary

Workers in the oil, gas, and coal sectors have been hard-hit by the sharp contraction of the U.S. fossil fuel industry. For years, oil and gas executives have made risky investments and amassed bad debt to pursue near-limitless expansion. Now, the abrupt decline in oil demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the oversupplied global market — the latest in the industry’s record of extreme boom-and-bust cycles — have exposed the industry’s shaky financial foundation and already contributed to layoffs and furloughs. Energy workers also face longer-term challenges, with the fossil fuel industry already in decline as the global transition to clean, renewable energy accelerates.

Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic must prioritize the needs of impacted workers, families, and communities, including low-wage workers, undocumented people, people who are incarcerated, people experiencing homeless, and Indigenous, Black, and Brown people who are disproportionately harmed by the health and economic crisis. Greenpeace supports proposals to provide immediate federal relief for all affected workers and families, such as the Paycheck Guarantee Act and the Essential Workers Bill of Rights. Greenpeace also supports demands for long-term protections and large-scale investments in predominantly low-wealth and Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities that are disproportionately impacted by toxic pollution, fossil fuel extraction, and the climate crisis, such as those called for in the Equitable and Just Climate Platform.

Alongside these essential policies, our response to the crises we face must also include immediate relief and long-term economic security for the energy workers and communities who have powered our society for decades, and who face unique challenges in the COVID-19 crisis and clean energy transition. Congress should create a national Worker and Community Protection Fund (WCPF) to support fossil fuel workers, their families, and impacted communities in the current oil industry contraction and long-term energy transition.

Charlie Jiang

By Charlie Jiang

Charlie Jiang is a climate campaigner fighting for a Green New Deal that brings justice for communities and workers most impacted by the climate crisis and fossil fuel extraction. He has a background in clean energy engineering and organizing with youth climate movements. From Chicago, he’s currently based on unceded Piscataway lands in Washington, DC.

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