Home Environment & Climate News Fossil Fuel Industry Pays Better than Green Energy, Report Says

Fossil Fuel Industry Pays Better than Green Energy, Report Says

The Biden administration’s plans for an accelerated transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy could result in lower incomes and lost jobs, according to a new report.

The April Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) report, titled “Wages, Benefits, and Change: A Supplemental Report to the Annual U.S. Energy and Employment Report,” states hourly wages in the coal, natural gas, and oil industries are higher than those paid by producers of wind and solar power.

EFI reports the median average hourly wage for those employed in the coal, natural gas, and oil industries were $28.69, $30.33, and $26.59, respectively. Workers in the wind industry earned $25.95 an hour on average, and those working in the solar industry earned just $24.48 per hour. Nuclear power workers earn the highest median hourly income in the energy-producing sector, averaging $39.19 an hour.

Overall, energy workers’ median hourly wage of $25.60 is 34 percent higher than the national median hourly wage of $19.14.

More Jobs, More Permanent

The number of workers employed in the fossil-fuel industries exceeds the number of workers in the wind and solar industries, EFI’s report shows. In 2019, there were 636,043 workers in the natural gas sector, 839,841 workers in the oil sector, and 185,689 workers in the coal sector. The wind and solar industries employed 114,774 and 345,393 workers, respectively, with the help of billions of dollars in government support.

In 2011, the United States surpassed Russia as the world’s largest producer of natural gas, and in 2018 it overtook Saudi Arabia as the global leader in petroleum production, the report notes.

“The increased production in these two sub-sectors has contributed to energy employment growth of almost nine percent in four years, creating 72,100 jobs,” the report states. “In fact, petroleum and natural gas account for the largest source of jobs within the fuels technology sector, and within these two sub-sectors, mining and extraction had the greatest growth of jobs in 2019.”

Job-Killing Policy

The transition to green energy being pushed by the Biden administration will replace relatively stable, higher-paying jobs with lower-paying, migratory jobs and seasonal employment, says David Wojick, Ph.D., an independent analyst who writes for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.

“In addition to paying lower wages than their fossil-fuel counterparts, wind installations and solar arrays need fewer workers to keep them operating,” Wojick said. “Once wind turbines and solar panels have been installed, workers move on to the next project, often in another state, leaving behind a skeleton crew to deal with any problems that arise.

“Also, because most of the green jobs are in construction and thus are often seasonal, the annual wage differences are much greater than the hourly differences,” Wojick said. “Installing solar panels is not a good career.”

Advantage: China

The consequences of President Joe Biden’s policies to fight climate change will go far beyond the impact on the fossil fuel industries, says Dan Kish, a distinguished senior fellow at the Institute for Energy Research.

“The Biden administration’s obsession with climate will destroy the American economy, and with it the livelihoods of countless Americans,” Kish said. “Replacing good, high-paying careers in real energy with temporary, lower-paying jobs in ‘green energy’ will drive up the cost of living while driving down the quality of life.

“It will also shift our manufacturing base to China, as they burn over half the world’s coal to make the solar panels coveted by elites in this country,” Kish said. “It is now the official policy of the United States that energy independence—the goal of almost seven decades of American sacrifice and finally achieved under President Trump—is inconsistent with the national interest. Higher energy prices and lower wages will help ‘build back better’ in China.”

Bonner R Cohen
Bonner R. Cohen is a senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research, a position he has held since 2002.

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