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Obama's 'Green Jobs' Mirage

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The author of this entry is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or
March 26, 2012 | 2,883 views | 7 comments

By Robert L. Bradley Jr.

In recent weeks, President Obama has cranked up his commitment to federal subsidies for "green" energy in the face of accumulating defaults by the politically connected companies. "I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy," he recently declared.

The President can make grand pronouncements, but the results of his green energy efforts have been paltry in terms of jobs and industry growth--and fiscal irresponsibility.

And now his campaign team has distorted the green energy truth. A new 30-second TV spot released by the campaign credits Obama for "2.7 million workers" employed in clean energy.

This statistic is jerry-built. Its mendacity is all the more ironic given that the spot begins by accusing clean-energy critics of making claims that are "not tethered to the facts."

That 2.7-million figure comes from a Brookings Institute study that broadly defines a clean energy job as one "that produces goods or services with an environmental benefit."

That encompasses a lot of jobs unrelated to windmills or solar panels, including sanitation workers, bus drivers, and those in "waste management." In reality, just 29,000 Americans work in solar energy.

Further, the figure represents the total number of green tech jobs in this country -- most created before Obama took office. He can't take credit for them.

Obama's ad also neglects to mention that green jobs expanded annually at just 3.4 percent between 2003 and 2010, significantly below the overall economy's 4.2 percent growth.

The real figure could be the Council of Economic Advisers' estimate that the 2009 stimulus package generated 224,500 new green-tech jobs. And at a cost to jobs elsewhere in the economy, leaving taxpayers-qua-consumers with a hole in their pocket.

Still, even a corrected-for figure is paltry compared to, say, the 13 million unemployed, or the 9.2 million jobs supported by domestic oil and natural gas.

Despite the President's grand promises and slick ads, green energy won't revive the economy. Wind, solar, and batteries have little to show for massive taxpayer support. In some cases, taxpayers just get a huge bill after the firm goes bankrupt (e.g. Solyndra, Ener1, Range Fuels, Beacon Power Corp., etc.).

It's the oil and natural gas industry that can launch a resurgent American jobs market. Oddly but encouragingly, Obama has started to acknowledge this inconvenient truth. During the State of the Union, he promised to "open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources" for development.

That's a good start. But these promises have to be backed with hard-and-fast reforms.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, under current policy Gulf offshore production will drop one-third by next year. Permitting of western federal lands declined 13 percent. And the Obama administration just rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have transported oil from Canada to Texas with an estimated 20,000 new jobs.

Such blockage creates upside, though A study from consulting firm Wood Mackenzie found just simple reforms -- including improving regulations, expanding development access and raising permit rates -- could create a million or more new jobs by 2030 and generate $800 billion in economic activity.

Tapping into this potential requires the President to make good on his State of the Union promise. But he can't stop there.

The House is considering new legislation -- the "American Energy Infrastructure Act" -- that would tie domestic energy to high priority infrastructure projects. Importantly, the bill opens up tracts of Alaska and offshore territories to exploration. And speeds the development of shale resources.

The President should get behind the Act, as well as opening and streamlining the process for leasing and permitting areas for development.

Grand "green" energy promises might make for good headlines. But there's scant evidence the industry will live up. The true path to sustainable growth is right here at home when it comes to oil and natural gas.

Robert L. Bradley Jr. is the CEO & Founder of the Institute for Energy Research and author of seven books on energy history and public policy. He blogs at
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Your Opinions and Comments

Rock'n chair Rambler  
Over Taxed, TX  
March 27, 2012 12:31pm
"any well fed horse/donkey/mule and wagon will get you almost anywhere you want to go..." ... as long as you have all day to get there. And hey, this time of year with all the wild flowers in blume, that's probably... More ›

4 th Generation Texan  
Sutherland Springs  
March 27, 2012 11:02am
Is Daniel Tejeda really the Mayor of Floresville? Amazing that such a brainless, foolish syncophant could be elected to anything. So, glad I'm not living in Wilson County's obvious that the bar for local officials... More ›

4 th Generation Texan  
Sutherland Springs  
March 27, 2012 10:58am
Yes, and remember that Cuellar also voted for Obamacare...that right there disqualifies in my mind anything that he has to say or do. You are right, we don't have to depend on the combustion engine. I hear that there has been... More ›

Daniel Tejada  
Floresville, TX  
March 27, 2012 9:46am
When you are asking readers to consider the entire material demands of a combustion engine, you automatically assume our only option of transportation is just that, a combustion engine first invented in the 13th century - and... More ›

4 th Generation Texan  
Sutherland Springs  
March 27, 2012 9:18am

Rock'n chair Rambler  
Over Taxed, TX  
March 27, 2012 8:30am
Until we get all the gray haired 60's hippy lunatics out of the government, the country is going to be headed down a rat hole of insolvency and chasing it's tail pursuing one green disaster after another. The EPA has got... More ›

Elaine K.  
March 26, 2012 8:53am
New post.

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