LiUNA’s Terry O’Sullivan: Good Jobs and Clean Energy Are Not Mutually Exclusive

Construction unions and climate advocates around the world share the same goal of fighting climate change according to Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA). “Where we differ passionately is in our strategy and approach to reaching that goal.”

The Hill recently published an opinion editorial by O’Sullivan, discussing climate change and the realities of producing cleaner, efficient energy. In the piece, O’Sullivan acknowledges that as much as we embrace renewables, they do not have the capability to fully power America. Renewable energy is not ready to replace fossil fuel energy. In fact, America would need over 3.8 million acres of solar panels – costing about $1.8 trillion and covering an area nearly twice the size of Yellowstone National Park to produce enough energy in 2030 to make up for the lack of fossil fuel energy caused by increased regulations.

O’Sullivan reiterates the need to remember that there are other, cleaner energy options than just renewables. For example, natural gas accounts for nearly a third of our energy. It is a cleaner-burning fossil fuel than coal and oil. O’Sullivan states, “Natural gas produces 50 percent less carbon than coal, and is credited as a key driver for the decline in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in recent years. Natural gas is also a critical backup fuel for renewables, many of which are intermittent power sources. If the United States takes advantage of the abundance of natural gas and develops it to the highest environmental standards, we can be responsible stewards of the planet and provide power until renewables fully mature.”

Pennsylvania is the second largest natural gas producing state. Considering that natural gas is cleaner burning than other energy options available, those concerned about climate change should get on board with increased infrastructure development in Pennsylvania in order to ensure more widespread use. Additionally, infrastructure development provides countless economic benefits to Pennsylvania through increased jobs, increased economic activity at local restaurants, stores, and hotels, as well as increased access to affordable, clean burning energy resources for consumers among other benefits.

The Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance agrees with O’Sullivan because our nation can set its sights on, and reach the goal of, an economy that dramatically reduces carbon emissions while benefiting from natural gas. As this piece is titled, “Good jobs and clean energy are not mutually exclusive.”