Home > Uncategorized > BLOW(n) JOBS: Russian Steel Imports Displace Jersey Based Wind Manufacturing

BLOW(n) JOBS: Russian Steel Imports Displace Jersey Based Wind Manufacturing

Promised turbine manufacturing jobs blowin’ in the wind

“Bipartisan” NJ Democrats got played by Gov. Christie on wind

Lessons for negotiations with Trump?


“POTENTIAL — The SJPC’s new omniport is also uniquely positioned for emerging technologies, such as off-shore wind turbine manufacturing, assembly and logistic activities for utility-scale windfarms.” (South Jersey Port Corporation) (photo: Bill Wolfe)

At a time when the Trump administration is under harsh criticism for relationships with Russia and is advocating an “America First” economic policy that seeks to erect barriers to imports as a means to expand US manufacturing jobs – including reviving US coal and steel manufacturing – NJ Democrats are celebrating importation of Russian steel.

Repeat: NJ Democrats are celebrating importation of Russian steel. Given the current context, that’s incredible on “optics” and poor policy as well. (the Port currently employs only “40 to 50 people”).

Maybe that kind of thinking helps explain why NJ manufacturing jobs are in free fall? And why trade unions are being manipulated and lied to by those same South Jersey Democrats who promise jobs as cover for ramming pipelines down our throats? (see:

But am I the only one to note the irony and hypocrisy in all the hoopla surrounding the hyped Paulsboro Port story? (which just so happens to ignore the Russia controversy, US jobs and the Port’s wind history):

On Wednesday, Doric Warrior made its final leg of a long journey to Paulsboro from Russia. The ship, 230 meters long, carried the first shipment of steel to the Paulsboro Marine Terminal. Crews worked tirelessly to unload some of the steel before Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assemblyman John Burzichelli, the men who envisioned and backed the port since day one, would welcome guests to mark the occasion. …

“This port is generational,” said Sweeney. “This port will sustain families for years to come.”

Burzichelli noted that the 700 workers employed to prepare the grounds, construct the port and unload the steel racked up roughly $25 million in payroll.

But aside from the huge contradiction between Trump and NJ Dems, does anyone recall the promise of wind jobs for that port?

South Jersey Biz (February 2012)

The port will be designed to handle various cargos. For example, wind turbines—a proposed tenant—could arrive at the port for assembly and ship back out fully constructed.

In 2010, Gov. Chris Christie went to the site of the port to sign the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act, a bill that provides market-based credits for offshore wind production. The bill—which was co-sponsored by Burzichelli—helped create an offshore renewable energy certificate (OREC) program that requires a certain percentage of electricity sold in the state to be wind energy manufactured offshore. The legislation also made it clear that Paulsboro would be the preferred hub for turbine assembly.

“Offshore wind would obviously be a great fit for Paulsboro,” Castignola says. “That would be a true perfect fit and almost fill up all of [the port], and put to bed in terms of space what we’ll be able to do there. It would be a great opportunity if that occurred.”

NJ Biz: (April 2013)

“The New Jersey Energy Link will help move New Jersey on a path towards greater grid reliability and lower power costs,” said Assemblyman John J. Burzichelli. “This feasibility study shows what the South Jersey Port Corporation has been working so hard on for years, to make the Paulsboro Marine Terminal a driving force for creating jobs and becoming a manufacturing hub for the offshore wind industry for the state.”

Or of the political commitments by Senator Sweeney and Assemblyman Burzichelli:(3rd Legislative District website)

  • Senator Sweeney and Assemblyman Burzichelli worked in 2010 to pass the “Offshore Wind Economic Development Act,” which established an offshore wind renewable energy certificate program, and authorized the Economic Development Agency (EDA) to provide tax credits for qualified wind energy facilities in wind energy zones. This legislation is critical to the Port of Paulsboro project, and will be instrumental in bringing jobs into New Jersey.

The Democrats blamed Gov. Christie for the failure to realize wind, see:

“I honestly believe that it’s being held up by national politics,” said Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), standing outside the fence of the Paulsboro Marine Terminal, a site offshore wind proponents hope will become a hub for green manufacturing jobs associated with the sector.

Of course, Gov. Christie is to blame – but I also blame  Sweeney and the “bipartisan Democrats” for being totally naive – or complicit – in negotiating with the Gov. and for failure to pay attention to the details of the wind legislation they signed off on.

The off shore wind gambit was obviously a Christie cynical bait and switch – just like the false promises he made to the NJ Environmental Federation to secure their 2009 endorsement.

From day one, providing the Christie BPU with virtually standardless unfettered discretion to determine “net economic benefits” (the cost test) and veto wind was so obviously fatally flawed.

Which takes us to the current situation national Democrats face in negotiating an infrastructure program with the Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress.

Will national democrats get suckered like their NJ counter-parts?

Immediately after the election, we predicted they would:

The first issue to cement this coalition and illustrate this strategy is likely to be infrastructure, where timid corporate Democrats will be promised union infrastructure jobs in exchange for huge corporate tax cuts.

Of course, the Trump infrastructure deal will include privatization (“public-private partnerships”) and unrelated items like deregulation, attacks on unions, Wall Street financing giveaways, and environmental rollbacks too. (Obama already set the stage for all that with his Executive Orders to “streamline” NEPA and environmental reviews of infrastructure projects. Congressional Democrats – including corporate Wall Street Dems like Cory Booker – have already introduced “public private partnership” infrastructure bills, just like NJ State Democrats supported Gov. Christie’s privatization of water infrastructure and anti-democratic elimination of prior local voter approval requirements).

But Trump has been severely weakened since then by a series of scandals.

Still, we are not optimistic.

Some Democrats are desperate for restoring relationships with the traditional labor base – those “forgotten working class” voters – and will fall for any line of bullshit that promises “jobs”.

Some Dems are Trump collaborators (e.g. those facing 2018 elections that voted for his Cabinet nominees), some share Trump’s policy views on corporate subsidies, privatization, Wall Street finance, and/or “public – private partnerships”, and some are just plain cowards.

Time will tell.

But there are remarkable parallels between Trump and Christie – the environmental policy and politics are virtually an echo – and it would be reckless and stupid for the national Democrats not to learn from that experience.

Earth Day 2005 - revised!

Senator Sweeney (L), Wolfe (R) – Earth Day 2005 – revised!

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