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Northeast Boilermakers expose problems with Green New Deal

Three Northeast Area Boilermakers rocked the airwaves Saturday, Sept. 19, on Philadelphia WPHT 1210-AM talk radio, emphasizing the benefits of carbon capture, use and storage and also highlighting problems with the Green New Deal. The group appeared on “Saturday Night Live with Philly Labor” hosted by Joe Dougherty and Joe Krause. The show highlights union concerns for Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware and also streams online.

New Jersey Local 28 BM-ST James Chew, Philadelphia Local 13 BM-ST John Bland and Pittsburgh Local 154’s Shawn Steffee used the platform to challenge current thinking on so-called green energy, asserting that it’s not as green as it seems and that alone, it won’t to be able to provide the amount of reliable energy the United States needs.  

Bland summed it up well. “It’s a minimalistic solution to a complex problem.”

The Boilermakers also called out strong concerns about the billions of dollars tech firms are pouring into the Green New Deal. 

“Big money has invested in the Green New Deal and it’s going to cost hundreds of thousands of jobs,” Chew said. “Gas and coal bring reliability. And without the reliability of the fossil fuel industry, we’re heading down a dark path.” 

He’s concerned that pushing for 100 percent green energy will create a situation where the U.S. is once again energy dependent because some of the materials needed for green technology are not available in the U.S.

Bland raised questions about the disposal of solar panels. With old solar panels at the end of their life, there’s no plan for environmentally safe disposal. 

He also noted the huge footprint required for wind—hundreds and thousands of acres required to produce a paltry amount of energy. A wind turbine producing only 2-megawatts requires 1.5 acres of land. And because green energy is intermittent and not reliable, it still requires support from fossil fuels. In addition, like the problem with solar panels, the industry doesn’t know how to recycle windmill blades. 

Chew pointed to the Boilermakers’ advocacy of carbon capture, use and storage as the solution that should be getting attention and funding. 

“We’re not against wind and solar or hydro,” Chew said. “But we need to make fossil our biggest asset and not kill it. A gas plant runs 40 percent less emissions than a coal plant. CCUS will bring emissions to zero.” 

Steffee cautioned that ramping up to eliminate fossil fuels by 2030—10 years from now—and relying completely on “green energy” as the Green New Deal proposes, is not only unrealistic, it also will eliminate millions of jobs that exist today.

“The UA, Ironworkers…every one of us have jobs in fossil fuel plants,” Steffee said. “It’s time to wake up! The Green New Deal isn’t going to put us to work. We need to consider the environment, and we can do that by looking at CCUS.”

The September radio show was the second time the Northeast Area Boilermakers were on “Saturday Night Live with Philly Labor.” They hope to be on future shows to continue the conversation on energy, jobs and CCUS.