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Working Class Often Caught in the Cross-Hairs of Greens

oilfield opportunityJessica Sena
Independent Communications & Public Relations Advisor
Helena, Montana

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The greens and anti-development groups that create conflict and stop jobs are prospering at the expense of the working class, often leaving them unemployed.

Over the last eight years, the pseudo-environmental movement’s battle cry to lessen human activity has had a profound influence over public lands policy. Though the movement is not new, its motives have shifted over the last thirty years from pushing necessary protections of sensitive environments, to stifling land use.

working class

The greatest casualty in this war against production and recreation, from access, to agriculture, to energy, is the working class. The millions of blue-collared men and women responsible for producing the necessary means for modern living stand directly in the cross-hairs, pitted against ideologues and misinformed joiners of regressive campaigns.

Of all the amazing technological advances over the last century, natural resource production tops the chart of the most hi-tech industries. Farmers now have the ability to feed the world, and U.S. energy producers have the means to power and fuel it; all without consequences which imperil pristine resources.

To say those working in natural resource development do not also care for the environment is a fallacy; perhaps one of the most egregious. It’s those working in natural resource development that spend the majority of their time outdoors, unlike those protesting in capital buildings and in courtrooms. It’s far easier to be a steward of the land if you work directly with it every day.

The economic benefits are often touted in terms of jobs numbers, tax revenues, and GDP. But missing from those statistics are the faces of those contributing to great feats, along with their personal stories.

One of the most significant experiences of my professional life has been the time spent turning wrenches alongside those working on the ground floor of the oilfield. Inevitably, while out in the field, conversations are had about how the oilfield became the chosen “office” of those I visited with. For most, it’s a means to an end; a way to live in rural Montana and provide a life for themselves and their families.

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Montana Drilling Rig

Regardless of the job title, those working to put natural resources to use are the makers of America. Think about it. Everything used and relied upon to improve our quality of life is either made from or dependent upon something grown, mined, cut down, or otherwise extracted from the earth.

To those fighting against access, development, and economic progress, the working class is disposable. But the makers of America are beginning to fight back; to take a stand for what makes the most economic, the most environmental…the most American sense.

Consider the latest endorsement of the Dakota Access Pipeline by the AFL-CIO, for example, or the truly grassroots group Colstrip United.

Union or not, the working class is starting the stand up to federal decision making that decides against capital and labor, in favor of so-called environmental groups. It takes a lot of green to keep the red, white, and blue collared workers gainfully employed in America. It also takes a lot of green for anti-development groups to have an influential impact over public policy.

This is not a fight between haves and have nots…not yet. The business of stopping development is just as “big business” as promoting it; well-funded, well organized, and (you better believe it) just as lawyered up as the companies that employ manual laborers.

Sue and settle deals between pseudo-environmental groups and federal agencies like the EPA are how these groups survive. They’re in the conflict industry, prospering at the expense of the working class. One project and thousands of jobs stopped equates to large payouts to the groups protesting and, more accurately, litigating against them. Lawsuits and obstruction to developmental progress leaves thousands of American workers unemployed, unable to provide for themselves or their families and incapable of extracting or developing the materials that provide for everyone.

As wonderful as the slogans and protest themes may sound, nothing good can come from pitting human activity against the environment- use vs. non-use. In the words of Corb Lund:

When the oil stops, everything stops, nothin’ left in the fountain
Nobody wants paper money, son, so you just as well stop countin’
Can you break the horse, can you light the fire?
What’s that, I beg your pardon?
You’d best start thinkin’ where your food comes from
and I hope you tend a good garden

When the trucks don’t run, the bread won’t come, have a hard time findin’ petrol
Water ain’t runnin’ in the city no more, do you hold any precious metal?
Can you gut the fish, can you read the sky?
What’s that about overcrowdin’?
You ever seen a man who’s kids ain’t ate for seventeen days and countin’?

-Gettin’ Down on the Mountain

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2 thoughts on “Working Class Often Caught in the Cross-Hairs of Greens

  1. Well said. Your narrative repeats itself, exactly, here in the Marcellus. Just replace, “oil” with nice dry natural gas.

    There seem to be at least TWO forces funding the sophisticated, powerfull, ultra-connected “no fracking” movement: spoiled enviro-elitists bedded with limitless direct and indirect Middle Eastern money. The irony shouts!

  2. http://www.commondreams.org/views/2016/09/29/dakota-access-pipeline-and-future-american-labor

    Found that super interesting. The writer, who is mentioned in the articles and then also the references. One was bill mckibben and this recent article he wrote on the latest oil change international report.

    A less recent oil change international report also made news although that was specific to natural gas pipelines mainly I think in the eastern states of the united states. Both reports issued this year seem to call for no new infrastructure like of course pipelines whether for Fracked natural gas or oil.

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