October 2, 2009
By Ben Lieberman
Don't let the hype about "green jobs" fool you. The global
warming bill approved earlier this year by the House of
Representatives would destroy far more jobs than it could ever
Proponents of the bill's effort to reduce carbon emissions by
imposing an enormously expensive cap-and-trade system are finding
it a tough sell. The American people simply aren't buying the idea
that global warming is a dire crisis that justifies a blank-check
response. Reality is just not cooperating with doom-and-gloom
global warming predictions. No warming has occurred for the last
decade. And now the recession has heightened concerns about the
economy and jobs.
As a result, proponents of the Waxman-Markey bill -- currently
being debated in the Senate -- have changed their sales pitch.
Rather than present this big energy tax as a costly but necessary
step to save the planet, supporters now claim that it would be an
economic boon, a green-job-generating machine.
"Make no mistake: this is a jobs bill," said President Obama as
the bill neared a vote in the House last June. "It will make
possible the creation of millions of new jobs."
What kind of jobs is the president talking about? The
Waxman-Markey bill drives up the cost of fossil fuels -- coal, oil
and natural gas -- that proponents blame on global warming. As the
feds ration these fuels and make them more expensive, they will be
replaced by alternative energy sources like wind and solar. The
jobs necessary to bring about this energy transformation are
considered green jobs.
Sure, the president can visit wind turbine factories and boast
about the few hundred green jobs at each. But the billions of
dollars in government subsidies to the wind industry siphon
resources and jobs away from other parts of the economy.
Worse, the higher cost of wind-generated electricity and other
alternatives kills even more jobs, especially in the manufacturing
sector that needs reasonably-priced energy to compete in the global
A study by The Heritage Foundation estimates a loss of 1,145,000
jobs from the Waxman-Markey bill. These are net job losses, after
any "new" green jobs are taken into account. The three analyses of
the bill done by the federal government also predict net job
Real world experience bears this out. Governments that subsidize
or mandate green jobs reap fewer overall jobs and a weaker
Green job advocates once touted Spain's aggressive alternative
energy policy as a model for America. But, today, Spain's
green-jobs bubble has burst.
Unemployment there stands at 18 percent, nearly twice that of
the United States. Gabriel Calzada, economics professor at Madrid's
King Juan Carlos University, estimates that each green job Spain
creates prevents 2.2 other jobs from being created.
The Danish think-tank CEPOS recently studied wind energy in
Denmark, another oft-cited model for America. CEPOS found than each
wind energy job there costs the government $90,000 to $140,000
annually -- much more than the jobs pay. Nor are these jobs
sustainable. Once the government handouts end, so do the jobs.
The same lesson can be seen in the United States. California has
led the states in pursuing a green jobs agenda. Environmentalists
often cite it as a model for the rest of the nation. But California
also stands out as having higher unemployment and energy costs and
a weaker economy than nearly every other state.
Waxman-Markey would take the nation down the same job-killing
path. Some jobs would be destroyed entirely. Others would be
outsourced to nations that don't drink the cap-and-trade
China, India and other developing nations have wisely stated
that they won't accept similar global warming restrictions on their
own economies, and for good reason. They know full well that the
policies giving rise to green jobs kill many more jobs in the
Lieberman is a senior policy analyst in the Thomas A.
Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at the Heritage
First appeared in the The Monitor
Don't let the hype about "green jobs" fool you. The global warming bill approved earlier this year by the House of Representatives would destroy far more jobs than it could ever possibly create.
Senior Policy Analyst, Energy and Environment
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