Mike Rowe is the working man’s hero. He’s also a font of common sense.
The TV star, the former host of “Dirty Jobs,” on Monday weighed in on White House climate envoy John Kerry’s statement about oil industry workers who lose their jobs amid President Joe Biden’s climate change policies needing to learn how to build solar panels.
That, he said, doesn’t make “a ton of sense.”
“If you have a skill that’s in demand, and you’re willing to go to where the work is, the opportunities are still out there,” he said in an appearance on Fox News.
On Wednesday, Kerry appeared in the White House briefing room to talk about Biden’s expansive climate change policy. During his first days in office, Biden signed executive orders killing an extension of the Keystone XL pipeline, which carries Canadian crude oil into the U.S., and ordering a temporary ban on oil drilling on federal lands. Economists estimate the loss of Keystone will cost 11,000 jobs, and it’s unknowable how many people will be put out of work by the 60-day ban.
In the briefing, a reporter asked Kerry: “Mr. Secretary, if you would, there’s — there certainly are oil and gas industry workers who are watching you both right now who will hear the message that’s — that the takeaway to them is that they are seeing an end to their livelihoods. What do you say to them, particularly those people who President Trump struck a chord with on the campaign trail when he promised to save their jobs? What is your message to them right now?”
“With respect to those workers, no — no two people are more — in this room, are more concerned about it. And the President of the United States has expressed, in every comment he has made about climate, the need to grow the new jobs that pay better, that are cleaner, that —” Kerry said, breaking off on a tangent about black lung disease for coal miners.
“I mean, you know, you look at the consequences of black lung for a miner, for instance, and measure that against the fastest-growing job in the United States before COVID was solar power technician. The same people can do those jobs, but the choice of doing the solar power one now is a better choice. And similarly, you have the second-fastest-growing job pre-COVID was wind turbine technician,” he said.
“So what President Biden wants to do is make sure those folks have better choices, that they have alternatives, that they can be the people who go to work to make the solar panels — that we’re making them here at home. That is going to be a particular focus of the Build Back Better agenda.”
Kerry also said fossil fuel workers “have been fed the notion that somehow dealing with climate is coming at their expense. No, it’s not. What is happening to them is happening because of other market forces are already taking place.”
Rowe, though, said Kerry’s comments were “not entirely wrong.” But he said that the need for skilled labor will reach levels “like we’ve never seen before” after the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that although the government is having issues with fossil fuels, “the country isn’t.”