Energy Down: Clean Energy Job Losses Total 106,000 and Texas Weighs Oil Production Cuts

Image: CNBC

By Zoey Shipley

More signs emerged of deep trouble for the energy sector.  Clean energy companies shed 106,000 jobs in March according to an industry analysis of figures from the Labor Department’s tally of unemployment claims, including jobs in solar and wind companies, electricians, roofers and plumbers who install energy-efficient products, and factory employees who make hybrid cars, LED lighting, and energy-efficient appliances.  And on Tuesday, the Texas agency that regulates the oil and gas industry held a public hearing to consider whether the industry should cut production to keep oil prices from falling further, a drastic step aimed at preventing a slew of bankruptcies and permanent job losses.

Why This Matters:  These are unprecedented job loss numbers across the energy sector and production cuts are unheard of since the 1970s. The Texas cuts are unlikely since other states would likely just sell more gas and fill in the gap and the cuts would be very painful for the 360,000  people in Texas whose jobs depend on fossil fuels. At the same time, the oil and gas crisis creates an opening for clean energy to step in, but only if there are clean energy businesses that survive the pandemic.  On the positive side, gas production cuts would result in a reduction in the methane pollution caused by flaring off natural gas.

A Disappearing Industry  

Oil prices have dropped quickly since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. With little travel taking place around the globe, prices for a barrel of oil have plummeted from$60 to $20The Railroad Commission is the organization that oversees Texas’s oil and gas industries – they held the public hearing to discuss how to deal with dropping oil prices and still compete with Russia ‘s and Saudi Arabia’s oil cuts.  “If the Texas Railroad Commission does not regulate long term, we will disappear as an industry, like the coal industry,” said Scott Sheffield, CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources.  This has been a growing concern for many fossil fuel industries. Younger workers are looking for jobs in industries that do not have a negative effect on society and offer more stability for careers. Now is the time to help fossil fuel workers transition to what had been more stable clean energy jobs — but now those jobs are in doubt as well.

 

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