On Labor Day, celebrate the millions of Americans employed by natural gas

Whether you are cooking or heating your home, I am one of the thousands of union workers bringing you affordable, reliable, and safe natural gas in the Pacific Northwest.

The natural gas industry employs nearly 2 million Americans. Many of them are my union brothers and sisters. Steamfitters, as well as other workers, have been at the forefront of training and implementing the latest technology designed to address climate change and ensure we’re using natural gas. We’ve made tremendous progress up to this point, and we’re excited about continuing those efforts.

Utilities are bringing more renewable natural gas into their energy mix, which captures organic methane gas from materials like wood, food, and other waste. If left to depose in landfills or nature, these organic materials would release air pollutants over time without any societal or environmental benefit. With recent advancements in technology, the gases from waste streams are now being cleaned and added into the pipeline network to serve homes and businesses. This turns the problem of waste into a powerful climate solution using infrastructure that’s already in place. The existing pipelines don’t know the difference — but our planet does.

The expansion of renewable natural gas also creates more good-paying jobs. The Renewable Natural Gas Coalition estimates new projects will help create 7.3 million jobs by 2050. These projects can create family-wage jobs with healthcare, pensions, great training, and apprenticeship opportunities.

Workers from unions like mine are the most highly skilled and trained professionals who, each day, even during a pandemic, run equipment to excavate safely, weld and lay pipe, and provide support for energy customers. We are honored to take part in transforming natural gas infrastructure into renewable natural gas infrastructure.

Providing this infrastructure allows communities to have affordable, reliable, and safe natural gas while solving the climate crisis by transitioning to more renewable natural gas. We are all working together to make a difference, so this Labor Day, please take the time to celebrate and thank the millions of workers who are making your homes and lives more comfortable with natural gas.

Lou Christian, Business Manager for UA Local 290, Plumbers, Steamfitters, and HVAC/R