Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to reporters at Wilkes-Barre Scranton International Airport after participating in a CNN town hall event on September 17, 2020 in Avoca, Pennsylvania. Despite calls from climate advocates to ban fracking, Biden told CNN's Anderson Cooper the process needs to be included in a transition to net-zero emissions. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Fracking Not a 'Sustainable Pathway to Prosperity': New Report Shows Clean Energy Would Create More Jobs Than Fossil Fuels

"For the sake of giving workers a stable future, protecting public health, and making real strides in the fight against climate chaos, the choice is clear: Clean energy jobs can deliver far more good jobs for Pennsylvania."

Lisa Newcomb

As U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette toured the Shell Ethane Cracker Plant in Beaver County, Pennsylvania Monday, a new report from a watchdog group indicates clean energy technology can produce more jobs in the state than fracking and other fossil fuel-related industries.

"Political leaders in the state must create the policies that will grow these industries, instead of doubling down on fracking's false promises about jobs," Alison Grass, research director for Food & Water Watch said in a statement accompanying the organization's report Monday. "For the sake of giving workers a stable future, protecting public health, and making real strides in the fight against climate chaos, the choice is clear: Clean energy jobs can deliver far more good jobs for Pennsylvania."

The report comes as both President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden attempt to woo voters in the Keystone State, as a victory there could mean winning the White House for either candidate. 

Food & Water Watch's report, "Cracked: The Case for Green Jobs Over Petrochemicals In Pennsylvania," found that while the Shell Ethane Cracker Plant—the same one Brouillette visited Monday—negotiated an "unprecedented $1.65 billion tax giveaway," it will only employ 600 workers, while a similar monetary investment in wind or solar manufacturing would employ 16,500 people.

In a press release previewing Brouillette's visit, the Department of Engery said the plant "has provided approximately 7,000 jobs to the greater Pittsburgh area and jumpstarted the rapidly growing need for a robust petrochemical industry in Appalachia."

Grass disagreed with that claim. "Instead of continuing to hand out money to frackers and petrochemical corporations, Pennsylvania could create a real, worker-centered recovery by investing in clean energy manufacturing. This research shows that clean energy outperforms fossil fuels when it comes to putting Pennsylvanians to work," she said.

The report also indicates that despite repeated claims from Republican lawmakers including President Trump of incredible job gains due to fossil fuel industry investments in the United States, "the fracking boom only boosted employment by about 18,300 in Pennsylvania. With another bust already in progress, fracking cannot provide a sustainable pathway to prosperity or an adequate solution to the deindustrialization that has imperiled the region for decades."

In addition, the report's authors wrote in a summary of their research, "tax cuts for the largest corporations in the world strengthen corporate power, increase inequality, and dampen job growth by encouraging speculation instead of employment." 

As Trump and Biden vie for votes ahead of the November election, calls for aggressive action from climate advocates appear to fall on deaf ears, or, perhaps, ears attuned to corporate donors—the energy and natural resources sector has donated $4.5 million and $1.6 million to each campaign, respectively—despite polling showing voters are concerned with fracking and the climate crisis in general and support a Green New Deal, which neither candidate defends.

As recently as last Thursday, during a CNN town hall, Biden reaffirmed his previous statements that he will not ban fracking. Trump, sending Brouillette to celebrate the Shell plant Monday, deploying Vice President Mike Pence to the state earlier this month as well as visiting to rally fossil fuel industry workers in the Keystone State himself, continues to deny the effects of human activity—including fossil fuel extraction and production—on the climate crisis.

The report's authors note the president's emphasis on the industry in helping him win a second term in November, writing, "The Trump re-election campaign is heavily emphasizing fossil fuel and petrochemical jobs in Pennsylvania. Trump held a campaign-style rally at the facility a few months ago, and more recently falsely claimed credit for its construction. Brouillette's two-day visit is a strong indicator that the White House will continue to emphasize the importance of fossil fuel jobs."

Biden's campaign, despite the former vice president's recent visits to the state, has some critics concerned he is not articulating his vision clearly nor investing enough in key battleground states.

Referring to the relative lack of Biden campaign resources on the ground in Pennsylvania, one local Democratic county chairperson told the New York Times last week, "I do think the polls have tightened because of the lack of presence."

Both Trump and Biden have planned visits to Pennsylvania this week.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Dems Sound Alarm as Key US Vaccine Agency 'Running Out of Money'

"We cannot afford to waste another moment and risk the emergence of yet another, even more dangerous variant," Democratic lawmakers write in a new letter.

Jake Johnson ·

UN Officials Warn of 'Record-Shattering Month' for Civilian Deaths in Yemen

Following deadly strikes by the Saudi-led coalition, Oxfam is calling on the U.N. Security Council to condemn attacks on Yemenis and to "inject new urgency" into peace talks.

Jessica Corbett ·

Experts Say Nuclear Energy as Climate Solution Is Total 'Fiction'

"The reality is nuclear is neither clean, safe, or smart; but a very complex technology with the potential to cause significant harm."

Jessica Corbett ·

Air and Water Under Threat as SCOTUS Targets Environmental Laws

"It seems like we have a new conservative supermajority on the court that is much more inclined to do a slash-and-burn expedition through our major environmental laws."

Julia Conley ·

'Historic Turning Point': Cuba Issues Plan for Vaccine Internationalism

"This lifesaving package," said the head of Progressive International's delegation to Cuba, exemplifies public health and science being "placed above private profit and petty nationalism."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo