Green New Deals Must Remember Those Left Behind by Fossil Fuels

After videos of a plastic drinking straw being removed from a turtle’s nose went viral in 2015, environmental activists mobilized. Clean ocean initiatives pushed for bans on single-use plastics, and in many countries, single-use plastic has been banned in one form or another. More than 80 percent of plastic pollution in the ocean comes from in-land sources and microplastic fibers are being found in the arctic snow. Protecting the environment is an altruistic goal, but it’s important that people in the Appalachian Valley aren’t left behind in the effort toward sustainable industry. 

Shell Chemicals is 70 percent through construction of the Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex in Beavertown, Pennsylvania. Shell promised 6,000 jobs during the construction phase, and 600 more once the complex was operational. However, the complex has received pushback from activists, and Mayor Bill Peduto of Pittsburgh denounced the complex in his commitment to encouraging a greener economy.

Peduto explained during a press conference of his Marshall Plan for Middle America, “This is not trying to take your job away, this is not trying to drive a factory that you have relied on for generations. This is to make sure there is something there for your children.” 

Appalachian voters were hopeful that former president Donald Trump would revitalize the coal industry. As jobs continued to disappear many coal miners now look to the future of green energy for employment. Over the next 10 years, Peduto’s Marshall Plan would introduce 400,000 jobs to the Appalachian Valley to compensate for the 100,000 that would be lost as the fossil-fuel industry continues to fail.

The coal industry left Appalachia with nothing in place to protect miners who lost their jobs. Miners were often physically unable to work due to the demanding nature of mining coal. Often miners were unqualified to work any other job, and the amount of unemployed workers far surpassed open positions. As America transitions into green energy, it’s important that the federal government keeps up with the need of Appalachian people

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