September 10 2012

More Green Jobs Gobbleygook

Vicki E. Alger

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former Department of Labor chief economist and Manhattan Institute senior fellow thinks “counting or creating green jobs is a waste of taxpayer dollars,” especially given our weak economy (see here and here). As she recently explained in the Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is responsible for the federal definition of green jobs under Title X of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, signed into law by President George W. Bush. Title X was a stand-alone bill, the Green Jobs Act, sponsored by then-Representative Hilda Solis, a California Democrat. Solis became Secretary of Labor in 2009, and is charged with implementing her legislation. In fact, the Bureau’s definitions of green jobs are all over the map. The larger truth is that “green jobs” is an expansive term, and no one knows definitely which jobs are green and which are not.

[For a funny, but not terribly illuminating, video on this, see John Galvin, Labor Department-Bureau of Labor Statistics Acting Commissioner trying to explain exactly what a green job is and isn’t to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa this past June during the Labor Department Jobs Report hearing here.]

This ambiguity makes it easy to declare a policy (and Obama campaign promise) victory, and spend tons more taxpayer money—until you dig a little deeper. Consider:

The Labor Department got $500 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for green jobs research and training grants. But of 53,000 people who participated in green jobs training, only 5,400, or 10.2 percent, were still employed in their new positions at the end of 2011.

The military is getting $510 million for a three-year program to develop new biofuels for ships and tanks, which cost $27 per gallon, not the $3.50 per gallon conventional fuel costs. (See here, too.)

As Furchtgott-Roth, concludes, “In uncertain economic times, most people, in America and elsewhere, just want a job, any job. They do not care if it is green, red, white, or blue. Counting or creating green jobs is a waste of taxpayer dollars.”

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