At a summit on good jobs and clean air in Oakland, CA, yesterday, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa told labor and environmental activists that his union — representing 1.4 million workers across a broad array of careers — is rejecting the drill-drill-drill rhetoric of the conservative allies of Big Oil. Saying that we should not drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Hoffa embraced a future of jobs built on clean, renewable energy:
We are not going to drill our way out of the energy problems we are facing — not here and not in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We must find a long-term approach that breaks our dependence on foreign oil by investing in the development of alternate energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal power.
Hoffa’s call on behalf of workers is echoing leaders of the environment, energy, and economic justice:
“If you’re in a hole, stop digging!” — Al Gore
“We can’t drill our way out!” — T. Boone Pickens
“We cannot drill and burn our way out of this problem. If we do, we will burn this planet!” — Van Jones
Hoffa’s rejection of drilling in the Arctic Refuge is a remarkable turnaround. From 2001 to 2005, the Teamsters led the charge in favor of opening the refuge, before top Teamsters lobbyist Jerry Hood became the head of the pro-drilling front group Arctic Power.
The day before, a coalition of “more than 3,000 environmental, community and labor advocates” led by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums rallied for “clean air and good jobs” at the Port of Oakland, the fourth busiest container port in the United States. They marched for a clean trucks program modelled after the coalition’s amazing success with the busiest port in America, the Port of Los Angeles. That landmark plan involved an “employee model” that mandates that the Port of Los Angeles deal only with trucking companies who employ their drivers, making it dramatically easier for the port to meet state and federal public health, environmental, and national security standards — and making it possible for the drivers to unionize. Shippers, trucking companies, and retailers continue to challenge this plan.
“Americans are suffering in this difficult economy,” a Teamster spokesperson told Gristmill’s Kate Sheppard. “[President Hoffa] really realized, like a lot of people have, that there needs to be a long-term energy solution.”
UPDATE: At Daily Kos, TomP writes, “Great news for all of us who seek a Blue/Green Alliance!”
At the Compass, Heather Moyer says, “The Sierra Club is happy to stand with labor and encourage clean energy, which will boost the economy and create jobs.”
At Brightbend, Raj Shukla concludes, “Politics, economics and ecology all converge in one answer — no fossil fuels for energy.”
UPDATE II: At the Huffington Post, Doug Kendall writes about the Senate Judiciary testimony on the Supreme Court Exxon Valdez damages ruling of Osa Schultz, “an Alaska fisherwoman and remarkably energetic small-business entrepreneur from the coastal town of Cordova. She and her husband were partners in a thriving fishing cooperative that nearly went bankrupt after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill”:
Osa isn’t an environmental activist by choice or trade; this was one of her first visits to Washington. And she has long been open, like many Alaskans, to the development of drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, but now she’s not so sure. Much like Teamsters President Jim Hoffa, she recognizes that drilling our way out of a dangerous addiction to oil is both impossible and pointless, and is directly tied to the mindset that caused such devastating results in her community.