Bloomberg floats hiring laid-off oil workers to plug abandoned wells, says Biden supports it

Former NYC mayor says it's an example of 'growing the economy and fighting climate change'

Former Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg floated hiring oil and gas workers who have been laid off due to the coronavirus pandemic to help "clean up abandoned wells."

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"As Congress debates how to address the economic calamity we are facing, we have an unprecedented opportunity to put people to work addressing the climate crisis—and we should start by hiring laid-off oil and gas workers to help lead the way," he wrote in an op-ed for Bloomberg Monday.

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Bloomberg went on to say that former Vice President Joe Biden has "included the idea as part of his green energy campaign platform."

"I've spoken with him about it, and I know how strongly he supports it," Bloomberg wrote. "It's a perfect example of how growing the economy and fighting climate change go hand in hand."

(Associated Press) (Associated Press)

He added: "Joe gets it, and this is the kind of practical policy—that helps hard-hit communities while also protecting the environment—that he would lead as president."

Bloomberg, though, went on to say that those jobs are needed “right now” and urged congressional lawmakers to support the HEROES Act passed by the House of Representatives in May, claiming that coronavirus relief package would "create a federal well-plugging program."

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"While it could stand to be more ambitious — it would plug about 60,000 wells, far less than the 500,000 that experts have proposed — it’s a step in the right direction," Bloomberg wrote. "Its $2 billion price tag should be modest enough to appeal to Republicans, many of whom represent states such as Texas and Oklahoma that would see immediate job benefits."

Bloomberg also touted the House bill as one that would mend “the broken system for funding well cleanups," and urged lawmakers to hold polluters “accountable for cleaning up their own messes."

An idle oil pumping unit is silhouetted against the setting sun, May 20, 2020, in a field south of Oakley, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

"They're legally required to, and besides, that's what corporate responsibility is all about. But many try to use bankruptcy to escape their obligations to workers and shift their clean-up responsibilities to taxpayers," Bloomberg wrote.

Bloomberg said he felt the bill that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, “shepherded through the House would address this,” and would require firms to set aside enough money to retire wells before they drill them.

“The House bill is stalled in the Senate. Republicans are skeptical about further stimulus, and the Trump administration isn’t concerned about climate change,” Bloomberg wrote. “But cleaning up abandoned wells helps everybody. It fights climate change, creates jobs and is affordable.”

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He added: “Biden is right to push for it, but the idea is too good — and the needs of unemployed gas and oil workers are too urgent — to wait for 2021.”

Bloomberg’s column was yet another endorsement of Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee.

Bloomberg dropped out of the presidential race after Super Tuesday and offered his full endorsement to Biden that same day.

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Meanwhile, the Trump administration and congressional lawmakers are at a stalemate over negotiations for a fourth coronavirus stimulus relief package. The White House and congressional lawmakers are currently struggling to come to an agreement on enhanced unemployment benefits.

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