Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders made a campaign stop in Denver this week with a clear message: if elected, his administration will work to ensure that Colorado’s oil and natural gas workers will be out of a job.
In an interview with 9News, Sanders made it clear that he wants to transition the tens of thousands of Colorado oil and natural gas workers out of the industry and into other jobs – whether they like it or not.
“Sanders talked about his proposed transition for traditional energy workers in an interview with Next with Kyle Clark. State statistics indicate about 91,000 Coloradans work in the sector.”
It’s all part of Sanders’ plan to eliminate the oil and natural gas industry by banning fracking and forcing those workers to find new jobs.
His campaign has made this a core issue:
Any proposal to avert the climate crisis must include a full fracking ban on public and private lands.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 4, 2019
Sanders also introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate earlier this month to ban fracking by 2025:
“The legislation would immediately prevent federal agencies from issuing federal permits for expanded fracking, new fracking, new pipelines, new natural gas or oil export terminals and other gas and oil infrastructure. By Feb. 1, 2021, permits would be revoked for wells where fracking takes place and that are within 2,500 feet of a home, school or other ‘inhabited structure.’ The wells would be required to stop operations. Fracking for oil and natural gas would become illegal ‘on all onshore and offshore land in the United States’ by Jan. 1, 2025.”
Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren are two other Democratic presidential candidates that have endorsed an anti-fracking policy that glosses over the real impacts such efforts would have on workers.
Oil and Natural Gas Leads the Way in Pay
Sanders has long touted himself as a champion of labor, but his plan to eliminate fracking would prove devastating for workers in Colorado and across the country. CNBC analyzed census data from career planning site Zippia on graduates with 174 majors and found:
“The average annual income [of] students who graduate with a degree in petroleum engineering is about $169,680 per year, according to Zippia, while graduates of the second-highest paying major earn closer to $95,351 a year on average.” (emphasis added)
Meanwhile, the Wall St. Journal reported that median pay in the energy and utility sector hit $117,000 compared to the median wage for an American with an advanced degree of $77,324.
Economic Impact in Colorado
A ban on fracking, like Sanders has proposed would have a devasting economic impact in Colorado and greatly reduce funding for education. A report by the Colorado Oil & Gas Association and the University of Colorado at Denver found:
“The state’s oil and gas sector employed about 30,000 people in 2017, created about 51,000 additional jobs, added about $13.5 billion to Colorado’s domestic product and provided 81 percent of the distributions doled out through the School Trust.”
If Sanders is elected and successful in banning fracking, Colorado will almost assuredly go without all the power it needs.
Gov. Jared Polis has pushed an aggressive energy and climate agenda since taking office a year ago, but even his policies are a huge rebuttal to Sanders’ completely unrealistic proposals. Xcel Energy, the state’s largest utility, and a company that Polis has touted, acknowledged last year that it will need natural gas to reach its zero-emissions goals by 2050.
Polis wants renewable energy to generate all of the state’s electricity by 2040 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Both of these dates are well past Sanders’ 2025 deadline to ban fracking meaning there would be no oil and natural gas for power generation even with renewables only making up a fraction of the state’s needs.
Bernie Sanders wants to ban fracking within the next five years, which would put 90,000 Coloradans out of work at jobs that pay well. His plan would prove devastating to the state’s economy and revenue base and would leave households and business without enough power.
Sanders is completely ignoring reality with his unrealistic plans and that will only hurt workers, businesses, and public services.
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