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Renewable energy and renewed opportunity for fossil fuel workers go hand in hand

In this April 4, 2013, file photo, a mechanized shovel loads a haul truck with coal at the Spring Creek coal mine near Decker, Mont.
In this April 4, 2013, file photo, a mechanized shovel loads a haul truck with coal at the Spring Creek coal mine near Decker, Mont.Matthew Brown/Associated Press

Broader plan is needed to aid all who are affected by changes

Thank you for Susanne Brooks and Daniel Raimi’s piece about the need to provide financial support and other services to coal communities affected by climate action (“Give fossil fuel workers a stake in the clean energy future,” Ideas, March 28).

When considering the economic and societal impacts of climate action, it is natural to focus on those, such as coal miners, who are most identified with the fossil fuel industry. But other industries will also be affected. The transition to electric vehicles will reduce demand for auto mechanics and gas station attendants. Oil rig crews and pipeline workers will find less demand for their services.


By trying to relieve inequities of climate action for coal communities, Brooks and Raimi are introducing inequities between coal and other trades and communities. Rather than industry-specific solutions, the United States should implement policies that lift all boats. Broadband coverage is needed in all communities. All workers need to be confident that they can switch from old-economy jobs to green-economy jobs without losing their health insurance. Universal educational support and job training would be more equitable than support tied to one industry.

A broader plan than proposed by Brooks and Raimi would help all Americans through not just the clean-energy revolution but also others sparked by artificial intelligence, automation, and more.

Gary Rucinski


The writer is coleader of the Boston chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

Another argument for carbon fee and dividend

Thank you for posting about the plight of coal workers in the region around Athens, Ohio, and elsewhere. A valid point is made here that if we’re going to retrain a large number of people, we also must do what we can to ensure that jobs exist. Interestingly enough, this aim overlaps with what a carbon fee and dividend could accomplish.

If we put a price on carbon, it’s true that the coal industry will continue to be negatively affected. At the same time, the renewables sector will be stimulated, and more jobs will be created as the demand for wind turbines, electric vehicles, and solar panel installation increases. Susanne Brooks and Daniel Raimi are correct that we have to confront climate change head-on, but that we also have to ensure that public policy is in place to encourage growth in the sectors where we are retraining negatively affected workers.


One policy that would encourage this growth — the America’s Clean Future Fund Act — was introduced last month by Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois. By guiding the market toward renewable sectors, we can guarantee jobs for workers looking to retrain, such as those in Athens, Ohio.

Robert Gorman