Salena Zito’s latest column highlights what I think will be one of the biggest issues of the 2020 election cycle, in both the presidential election and in congressional races. The title of Ms. Zito’s column is “The crackers and frackers could hold the keys to 2020”. I’ve said for awhile that I think they will be one of the biggest issues in the race.
Democrats are in a difficult position. If Democrats side with Tom Steyer and AOC, they’ll lose the people who used to be the heart and soul of the Democratic Party, the industrial unions like the Pipefitters, the UAW, the USW and other major unions. If Democrats side with these unions, Tom Steyer stops writing checks for their campaigns.
Republicans don’t have such conflicts. They can support fracking without hurting their standing with other interest groups that support the GOP. The great news is that Republicans can boast how they support great-paying blue collar jobs that are helping rebuild close-knit communities in major battleground states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.
All Darrin Kelly wanted for the energy workers in Western Pennsylvania was that the Democratic presidential hopefuls would talk to them before going to war against shale. That opportunity slipped away last Friday when Elizabeth Warren joined Bernie Sanders in calling for a total fracking ban. “On my first day as president, I will sign an executive order that puts a total moratorium on all new fossil-fuel leases for drilling offshore and on public lands. And I will ban fracking — everywhere,” Warren tweeted.
“It is disappointing that any national candidate would not come in here and want to talk to the men and women of this area first before unilaterally making that decision,” said Kelly, a charismatic Pittsburgh firefighter who is also the head of the powerful and influential Allegheny Fayette Labor Council. They represent workers stretching from Pittsburgh to the borders of Maryland and West Virginia.
It isn’t just Bernie and Warren that’ve abandoned blue collar America. Joe Biden ditched them, too:
Biden denied the donor’s association to the fossil fuel industry before calling the young woman “kiddo” and taking her hand. He said, “I want you to look at my eyes. I guarantee you. I guarantee you. We’re going to end fossil fuel.
“There you have it. Blue Collar Joe just said that he’ll stop the fossil fuel industry. Then there’s this:
Trump’s magic came in rural and post-industrial counties such as Luzerne and Erie, but most importantly in the populous counties around Pittsburgh, where shale is king and fracking is seen as the second coming of the steel industry.
They may look like ordinary construction cranes to someone unfamiliar with the history of this region. But if you’re from here, they look like something different. Building the ethane cracker plant, each of these cranes looks like a new colossus rising from the ashes of yesterday’s despair.
Building the plant has brought in 6,000 good-paying jobs, with more to come. Ultimately, there will be 600 permanent jobs at the plant, with industry analysts predicting triple that amount in supporting industries.
Jobs postings are everywhere touting opportunities, no matter the skill level — high school education, trade school certificate, chemists, engineers, IT, labor. If you reliably turn up for work, there is likely a career for you in the oil and gas industry.
Let’s remember this: In 2016, then-candidate Trump promised he wouldn’t forget their communities. In 2020, he’ll return with the campaign slogan of promises made, promises kept.
The rebuilding isn’t complete but it’s been started, thanks to President Trump’s policies. President Trump identified the Obama administration’s anti-coal regulations as one of the things killing the energy industry. Thanks to the Republicans’ use of the Congressional Review Act, which they used 16 times, and the Trump/GOP tax cuts, communities are rebuilding. Under Obama/Biden, those communities were forgotten.