Congressman Tom Reed should be ashamed for immediately playing politics with the news that Siemens Energy is slashing 530 jobs at its Olean plant.
A four-paragraph statement on Reed’s website started by stating the obvious: The news is “a major blow to hundreds of hard-working families and the local community.”
The statement continued with more of the same: “We will continue to do everything we can to help those impacted because it is only fair they receive the assistance and support they need to get through these difficult times.”
Reed’s words are hollow. He doesn’t say how he’ll help the thousands of people whose lives have been shattered. He doesn’t say when he’ll start. He doesn’t say what kind of assistance and support is possible, or who will provide it. He provides no encouragement, no hope.
Politicians do this all the time: They use a lot of words to say nothing. But Reed never misses a chance to boast he’s co-chairman of the bipartisan congressional Problem Solvers Caucus. Many words could describe the rest of his statement, but “bipartisan” isn’t one of them.
Instead, it sounds like a campaign speech: “Unfortunately, this is another example of how the Biden Administration’s actions against the natural gas sector and other all-the-above energy solutions have serious, real-world consequences for the American people.”
The Biden Administration has been in place barely over a month. Long before the inauguration, though, Reed should have seen trouble for the energy industry in general and for Siemens particularly. Did he? If so, when, and what did he do?
“The worldwide shift to green energy is upending the fossil fuel business,” according to Bloomberg Green. Siemens Energy’s CEO, Christian Bruch, said in a Feb. 2 interview with Bloomberg that half of Siemens’ revenue is from sustainable energy technology. Emphasis on fossil fuels “is now readily shifting” toward renewables, a trend that is “coming year after year after year,” he said.
Speaking of fossil fuels:
• The average first purchase price for a barrel of oil dropped 55% since Reed took office in 2011 until November 2020 (the last month for which a price is available), according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (USEIA).
• Natural gas spot prices since Reed took office have dropped 40%, according to the USEIA.
• World Oil magazine reported in June, “The global natural gas market is poised for the biggest-ever drop in demand as a result of the Coronavirus crisis, an event that’s likely to hamper the industry’s growth for years to come.”
• “Global spending on oil and gas production is poised to remain below pre-pandemic levels through at least 2025, according to consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.” That’s from a Wall Street Journal report last month. “Meanwhile, investment in renewables and other clean energy technologies is taking off, threatening to eat into the market for oil and gas long-term.”
Reed might not be able to blame those things on President Biden, but he probably could blame others, as long as they aren’t Republicans.
In the wake of the Siemens disaster, Reed needs to act like he’s bipartisan and not just talk about it. Results, not partisan politics, are all that matter now.
(Patrick Vecchio grew up in Olean. His father, Russell, worked at Clark Brothers/Dresser-Clark/Dresser-Rand for 37 years, retiring in 1987 as a chief product engineer.)