The hypocrisy of attacking good refinery jobs

Oil is bad. Just ask the “kayaktivists” who steered their oil-based kayaks into Elliott Bay last year to protest a visiting Shell oil rig. Or the “Break Free” protestors who left their garbage behind in Anacortes two weeks ago.

To some, anything that strikes back at the oil industry, refineries, gasoline-powered cars, etc., is justified. Never mind that our global energy needs are intricately linked, that moving away from fossil fuels will take time, or that the big innovations in energy will come from scientists and profit-motivated companies, not activists and windmills.

Refinery jobs critical for WA communities
Washington’s refineries – which all of us rely on in one way or another, even the anti-oil protestors – provide well-paying, stable jobs. The Anacortes Chamber of Commerce wanted to quantify the impact of its nearby refineries to the town’s economy and commissioned a study by WWU. The Skagit Herald reports:

For every refinery worker who lives on Fidalgo Island, an additional job on the island is created, according to a recently released Western Washington University study.

You’d be hard-pressed to match that kind of multiplier effect. The average wage of refinery workers is $110,000. For communities near refineries – Anacortes and Ferndale in particular – refinery jobs mean food on the table, taxes for schools and local governments, and thriving local businesses that in turn provide more jobs. They mean stability, opportunity, and investment in the future.

Too many in Legislature show little concern for jobs
Looking at our Legislature, you’ll find too many legislators who think more like the protestors. Protecting good jobs for these communities isn’t a priority. Gov. Inslee’s proposed carbon cap will hit Washington’s refineries, which the governor labels as “polluters” (never mind that he and all the rest of us use their products).

Legislators on the left and their allies continually target a tax exemption for “extracted fuel,” which they characterize as a Big Oil Loophole. In reality, they want to tax refiners for fuel they create themselves and then use themselves in the refining process. If the state applied that logic across other manufacturing processes, it would be called out for what it is: patently unfair, regardless of the product. Taxes on oil that are supposed to go to toxic clean-up projects have instead been used like a slush fund for activist groups.

For all the talk about concern for the middle class and protecting family-wage jobs, when forced to choose in the Blue/Green Divide, Gov. Inslee and Washington Democrats choose against jobs time and again. Maybe for those in the tech jobs bubble of Seattle, this might make some kind of sense. For communities like Anacortes and Ferndale, it’s the difference between prosperity and poverty.
-Rob McKenna

The following two tabs change content below.
Rob McKenna
Rob served two terms as Washington’s Attorney General, from 2005 to 2013. He successfully argued three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and negotiated three of the largest consumer financial protection settlements in national history, all involving mortgage lending and servicing. He is a recognized leader in the development of consumer protections on the internet, in data protection and privacy regulation.