The Club on the Head of American Workers

February 1, 2017

Today in Congress, the Sierra Club will twice be reminded of former President Obama’s boast: that “elections have consequences.”  The Environment and Public Works Committee will endorse Mr. Pruitt’s nomination as EPA administrator. The climate lobby that owned EPA for the last eight years now frets Pruitt will undo their handiwork while the many more punished by those regulations hope he will.

Also, today the House will approve a resolution of disapproval voiding the so-called Stream Protection Rule. An oxymoron right up there with airline cuisine and military music, the stream rule will soon get the same treatment in the Senate.

How did this happen? Last week the Sierra Club provided one answer. It announced a new goal to destroy 65,000 jobs.

To the red-carpet supporters, billionaire philanthropists and trust fund intellectuals who cheer the Club’s ambition to shut down another 28 Gigawatts of coal-based generation, the jobs impact will be lost in translation. It won’t be lost on voters.

The Club’s 28 GW target roughly equates to 90 million tons of lost coal production, which translates into job losses of 10,000 direct coal mine workers (Mine Safety and Health Administration) and 9,000 direct coal plant workers (DOE “Energy and Employment Report”). Add to this toll the standard 3.6 multiplier for indirect job losses derived from MSHA data – conservative as it omits some categories – and the Club’s goal will kill another 46,000 jobs.

This brings the Sierra Club’s total tribute to America workers to 65,000 lost jobs.

BLS statistics show fossil energy jobs of the kind lost here paid an annual average of $111,300 in 2015.

This explains why the Obama administration’s single-minded devotion to the environmental left was costly for the president’s supporters. Reducing carbon emissions and coal production reduced economic prospects for tens of thousands of men and women. In November, they turned on their tormentors and the candidates that had turned against them.

To woo them back, the governing class must end its romance with the green lobby, whose evangelical zeal for punitive energy regulations – from stopping pipelines to shuttering power plants – and its indifference to the welfare of working Americans, are incompatible with the economic growth and high-wage jobs voters want.

The Sierra Club can’t read election results, but here’s betting that Congress can.