CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – “In my view, we’ve already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis. We can’t wait any longer. We see with our own eyes. We feel it. We know it in our bones. It is time to act.”
President Joe Biden signed executive orders Wednesday to transform the nation’s heavily fossil-fuel powered economy into a clean-burning one.
Biden acknowledged the political risk, repeatedly stating his approach would create jobs in the renewable energy and automotive sectors to offset any losses in oil, coal or natural gas.
“The key plank in our Build Back Better recovery plan is building a modern, resilient, climate infrastructure,” said Biden. “And a clean energy future that will create millions of good paying, union jobs.”
“To just continue to say ‘we’ll get good paying union jobs in these other sectors’…I mean it’s not happened yet,” said David Butterworth, a member of Pipeliners Union 798. “I don’t know of any of my members who have jumped over to wind and solar and now they’re doing that. I’ve never heard of that.”
Butterworth works with the pipelines and has been a member of Local 798 for 22 years.
He says over the last ten years, his job has changed drastically.
“If there are any imperfections, you go home,” he said. “When you weld on a pipeline job, you are under a microscope from day one until you leave that project.”
Under the Obama administration, new regulations were rolled out.
“We got emissions to where President Obama wanted them to be,” he said. “10 years ago, we were the fuel to get emissions to where they wanted them. Now that’s not good enough.”
Being on the ground, seeing these built, Butterworth says he wouldn’t mind them running through his own property.
“The blowouts you’re seeing are not current pipelines,” he said. “They’re old pipelines that were put together in the 60s and 70s when things weren’t regulated how they are now. But now, with the government regulations and everything that goes into building a pipeline, I can say 100% I wouldn’t mind that being in my yard.”
And he believes our power grid is too big to fully move away from natural gas so abruptly.
“I don’t see how wind and solar is going to replace us to where the power grid can continue running the way it is,” he said. “And people’s quality of life won’t be compromised a little bit.”
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, currently 61% of the nation’s electrical power comes from natural gas and coal, 20% from nuclear, and 17% comes from wind, solar and other renewable energy.