Jobs or the Environment?

The Oregon legislative session has reached the half-way mark and as expected, the big topics of debate: jobs, health care, and education. This morning’s headlines detail how legislators are going head to head on the issue of the jobs vs. the environment.

On the table are state forests and water resources pitted against about 3,500 potential jobs. As a stop-gap measure for our seemingly endless job stagnation, encouraging unsustainable growth (or in the case of House Bills 4098 and 4101 potentially unsustainable depletion of natural resources) appears to some as an only resort. But what are the true costs of creating these jobs? What long-term tradeoffs are we making for short-term gain? By using up nature now, we run the risk of greatly impacting the ongoing services that these ecosystems provide.

This issue isn’t unique to Oregon. The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline continues to rear its ugly head, as its construction alone promises to create 20,000+ U.S. full-time jobs and billions of dollars in annual spending to the economy. However, over 800,000 protestors argue against the Keyston XL project, because the true costs of the pipeline are far too great — environmental costs that far outweigh the prospect of hundreds of thousands of jobs created once the pipeline project is completed.

So we’d like to ask: jobs or the environment? Does it have to be one or the other? Our upcoming speaker, Juliet Schor argues that the two can (and should) co-exist and even thrive. Join Illahee next Friday, February 24th to continue the discussion.

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