Green Jobs Vs Reality: Green Jobs
President Obama is expected to seek another $250 billion or so in new stimulus funds next week, with plenty of money for clean energy and the creation of so-called green jobs.
Never mind that no one can seem to find many Americans who got green jobs as a result of the original stimulus spending. Consider two stories.
In the 2009 stimulus, the feds gave nearly $3.2 million in green-energy grants to my county of Arlington, Va., with almost $300,000 used to install solar paneling on the roof of our local library. (Don’t ask why the feds are giving one of the five wealthiest counties in America free money.)
Arlington officials boast the project will save $14,000 in annual electricity costs, but the solar panels have a life span of no more than 10 to 15 years. So the feds spent $300,000 to shave at most $150,000 off the net present value of Arlington’s electric bills. Some 3,000 counties across the country received federal funds for the same kind of negative-return energy conservation “investments.” This is the kind of “clean energy” program the administration wants to expand.
Oh, and the Company that got $535 Million in Stimulus Money and was the golden boy of Obama’s plan, just went bankrupt and we lost all the money and the jobs!
Wind, waves, and solar which are all the hippie liberals will consider in their “all in” energy plans are not viable. But they don’t care. They will make them work and if you have to suffer for it until they do (or don’t)–well by god you’ll suffer!
Obama instead touted steps his administration has taken without Congress, including the new vehicle-fuel economy standards announced in recent weeks. (The one that some economics predict will make your next car cost $11,000 more and may not be technologically viable at this point without everyone being forced to by a hybrid or an electric car–gee I never thought of that… 🙂 ).
“Think about it. That’s what we got done — and by the way, we didn’t go through Congress to do it,” Obama told workers at an advanced battery plant. “But we did use the tools of government — us working together — to help make it happen.” (The Hill)
Congress (aka The Republicans) are evil and get in his way!
“I think the White House continues to believe that oil politics are very important to the economy and the next election, and they are determined to enact whatever policies they can, especially those that have a populist bent,” Paul Bledsoe, a senior adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center said. (The Hill)
Whether they work or not is inconsequential. They just have to sound good, feel good, and get him re-elected. So that when he’ not facing a re-election campaign from 2013-2016 he can do whatever the hell he wants and Congress can go pound sand!
Don’t doubt it.
Now for a good energy news story. I recently traveled to Wheeling, W.V., which is 45 minutes down the road from Pittsburgh along the Ohio River and smack in the heart of the old Rust Belt. Unlike most places you go to these days, the town is booming. Defying the national mood, people are optimistic about the future. Why? It’s what residents are calling the “West Virginia gold rush.”
Except it’s not gold, it’s natural gas. Wheeling sits atop the famous Marcellus shale formation—one of the biggest treasure troves of natural gas ever discovered in America. With recent breakthroughs in hydraulic fracturing technology, that gas can be extracted at very affordable prices. A few years ago Wheeling farmers and land owners were getting about $50 to $100 an acre for drilling rights. Now they get up to $3,000, plus monthly royalties. What was once a dying town now has jobs and new funds for schools and roads, while West Virginian farmers and land owners are getting rich. The same story of economic revival can be told about counties in Pennsylvania and Ohio sitting atop the Marcellus bonanza.
Then there the oil in the Dakotas, possibly more than Saudi Arabia…
Even the White House acknowledges that the natural gas deposits in the Midwest and Texas contain potentially 100 years worth of cheap natural gas. Yet as far as I can tell, President Obama has never even uttered the words “Marcellus shale” in a major speech. Incredible.
In early August a Department of Energy advisory panel reported that fracking for natural gas poses risks to air and water quality and so should be subject to tighter regulations—hardly a ringing endorsement. The green movement wants it stopped completely because of dangers to water, even though continued technological progress will reduce these risks.
The White House’s hostility toward fossil fuels seems to know no bounds. Exxon has made some of the largest oil finds in a decade, in the Gulf of Mexico, and yet the Obama administration is holding up the leases and permitting process. In North Dakota, an Obama-appointed U.S attorney has brought criminal charges against seven oil companies (with penalties of up to six months in prison) for causing the deaths of 28 migratory birds found in oil waste pits.
According to data from the Federal Reserve Board’s Industrial Production Indexes, the oil and gas industry, which the Obama Energy Department loathes, has had more growth in output than any other manufacturing industry in the U.S. from 2005 through 2011. As a reward, the administration is proposing $35 billion in new taxes on the industry to slow it down. Even if we accept the dubious White House claim that all the oil and gas tax write-offs are unwarranted loopholes, a 2011 Congressional Research Service study finds that per unit of electricity produced, for every two cents of tax subsidy to Big Oil, Big Green (wind and solar) get closer to $1 in handouts.
“The environmentalists are for any energy source unless it actually works,” notes Stephen Hayward, an energy expert at the American Enterprise Institute. A few years ago the Democrats were all in favor of natural gas at least as a “bridge” energy source. That abruptly changed when the extent of America’s abundant natural gas resources became fully known and more affordable drilling techniques opened up a superhighway to energy security. The irony of the green movement’s reactionary antifracking crusade is that one of the most important developments in cutting U.S. carbon emissions has come from replacing coal-burning fire plants with natural gas.
So we now have a national energy policy directing our resources away from cheap, efficient and increasingly abundant fuels like coal, oil and natural gas while we channel billions of tax dollars to 500-year-old energy technologies like wind power that can’t possibly scale up to power a modern-day industrial economy. That’s a shame. (Stephen Moore)
But it “feels” good.:) It’s all touchy feely…
For more than two years the president has been giving “important” jobs speeches — and no wonder. After an $830 billion stimulus and multiple “jobs” bills since, the employment picture has only deteriorated. The economy added zero jobs in August, and 2.4 million fewer people work today than when Obama took office.
Yet despite the advance billing on all those previous speeches, none was anything remotely “bold” or “imaginative,” something Democratic lawmakers and Obama’s liberal media cheerleaders are now hoping for with his next one.
Instead, in every speech, Obama simply dusted off the same crabbed list — more money for roads and “clean energy,” various temporary tax credits, more unemployment insurance, temporary payroll tax cuts — despite the fact that each has already been tried on his watch, and all proved to be expensive failures. A rundown:
• In December 2009, Obama’s big jobs speech called for billions more on roads, extended unemployment benefits, tax credits for weatherizing homes and some temporary help for small companies.
• In his 2010 State of the Union address, Obama said “jobs must be our No. 1 focus in 2010” and touted his “new jobs bill.” What was in it? Money for roads, a small-business tax credit, weatherization credits and investment in clean energy.
• On Labor Day that year, Obama delivered yet another jobs speech, but offered only one idea — $50 billion more for roads.
• His 2011 State of the Union speech was also supposed to focus on jobs, but all he had to offer was a vague “innovation agenda,” another push for clean energy and — you guessed it — more money for roads.
• And then in July 2011, Obama argued that once the debt-ceiling debate was finished, the country could turn again to jobs. His big ideas: extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits, and spend more on roads.
Maybe this speech will be different. But unless Obama has kept some secret breakthrough job-creating idea hidden in his closet all this time, would it be a surprise if he just puts a fresh rhetorical gloss on these same proposals?
The problem isn’t just that these ideas aren’t “bold,” it’s that they’ve all been tried since Obama took office, and they’ve all failed. Among those he’s expected to include this time around:
More infrastructure spending. The stimulus bill spent nearly $100 billion on infrastructure. Yet when the bulk of that money started to get spent in the “Recovery Summer” of 2010, the economy shed 329,000 jobs.
A new-hire tax credit. Obama signed the $17.5 billion HIRE Act in March 2010 that offered companies up to $6,000 in credits and exemptions for hiring unemployed workers. Obama said this would “encourage businesses to hire and put Americans back to work.”
Employers apparently didn’t get that memo, since the number of private-sector jobs climbed a meager 0.6% by the end of the year.
More unemployment benefits. These have been extended several times in the past few years. The administration thinks they will create jobs. But every credible economic study says that extending unemployment benefits mainly extends unemployment as many workers wait until benefits run out before taking that next job.
Extending the payroll tax cut. In January, Vice President Biden claimed the one-year payroll tax cut that had just kicked in would “put $112 billion into the pockets of 155 million workers … spurring growth and creating jobs.”
The results so far this year: virtually no GDP growth and 104,000 more unemployed. Economist Bruce Bartlett summed it up: “There is no evidence that the lower payroll tax has done much of anything to stimulate either spending or hiring.”
Money for clean-energy jobs. In January 2010, Obama announced a $2.3 billion clean-energy tax-credit plan that would, he said, “give a much needed boost” to this industry.
Today, the landscape is increasingly littered with failed clean-energy companies, including Solyndra, a solar panel manufacturer that got $535 million in stimulus-backed loans but which is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Will Obama go bold this time? What other options does he have? The nation’s in no mood for another massive “stimulus” plan after the last one mainly just doubled the nation’s debt.
But he’ll give us one anyways, he’ll just manipulate the words but the meaning will be the same. His ideological playbook doesn’t have any other pages in it.
And he and his economic advisers don’t appear ideologically capable of embracing genuine free-market solutions that would generate actual growth — real tax reform that cuts rates and dramatically simplifies the code, significant relief from Obama’s own out-of-control regulatory machinery, an end to the looming ObamaCare nightmare, major entitlement reform, among them.
Instead, the administration appears eternally wedded to the idea that endless government meddling and tinkering in the private sector with targeted spending, temporary tax credits, and eye-of-the-needle tax relief will somehow, someday miraculously combine to spark growth.
In a piece published almost exactly one year ago, Obama’s newly appointed chief economic adviser, Alan Krueger, boasted that the HIRE Act was “an example of the kind of temporary, targeted and responsible policy that has been the hallmark of this administration.”
We hope Obama has learned by now that this approach isn’t responsible at all, and that he would offer some truly bold proposals that break from his failed Keynesian past. But given what we’ve seen over the past 2 1/2 years, we’re not holding our breath. (IBD)
I wouldn’t. He’s too ideologically rigid to notice. If we just SPEND EVEN MORE (“Infrastructure”) eventually banging our ideological head against the wall will break the wall! 🙂
Don’t doubt it.