Opinion

Green jobs: money gone with the wind?

Photo of Hon. Ernest Istook
Hon. Ernest Istook
Former Republican Congressman
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      Hon. Ernest Istook

      Ernest J. Istook Jr. is a Distinguished Fellow at <a href="http://www.heritage.org/">The Heritage Foundation</a>. Istook served 14 years as a U.S. Congressman, then joined Heritage in 2007. He engaged in a wide and robust range of issues in Congress as he served on the House Appropriations Committee and chaired multiple subcommittees. He also served on the Homeland Security Committee.

      His congressional experience ranged from overall budget and spending issues to all forms of transportation, trade, defense, health care, education, labor, financial services, homeland security, religious liberty, and many others. He is a founder of the Republican Study Committee, the principal conservative caucus in the U.S. House.

      Tapping his broad experience, Istook is a frequent fill-in host for several major national talk radio programs; he writes weekly opinion columns for multiple outlets that include <a href="http://www.newsmax.com/blogs/ErnestIstook/id-66">NewsMax</a>, <a href="http://www.humanevents.com/search.php?author_name=Ernest++Istook">Human Events</a>, and The Daily Caller. His daily radio commentaries are heard on over 80 radio stations. He is a regular guest on many network and cable news and commentary programs.

      Istook’s professional background has been as a journalist, practicing attorney, public official and now policy expert. Overall, he served 25 years in elected office, ranging from city council to state legislature to U.S. Congress, all after he moved to Oklahoma in 1972 from his native Fort Worth, Texas. He also was the Republican nominee for Governor of Oklahoma in 2006.

      Istook holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Baylor University and law degree from Oklahoma City University. He and his wife, Judy, have five adult children and are active in church work. Istook served several years as a Boy Scout Scoutmaster. He is the grandson of Hungarian immigrants and the first college graduate in his entire family tree.

      His personal website is <a href="http://www.istook.com">www.istook.com</a>.

      Follow him on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/Ernest_Istook">@Ernest_Istook</a>.

President Obama plans a big jobs announcement—right after he finishes his vacation inMartha’s Vineyard.  Expect him to say that green jobs are the key to recovery — that they will generate millions of jobs and a new era of prosperity.

Oh, you’ve already heard that one?  So has everyone else.  Even The New York Times has begun to debunk Obama’s claim, headlining, “Number of Green Jobs Fails to Live Up to Promises.” Obama’s claim is getting quite old and quite expensive, but remains just as false as ever.

If Congress’ “super committee” wants to cut wasteful spending, the green jobs agenda is a great place to start.

Obama’s 2011 Labor Day announcement is likely to echo his similar jobs announcement just after Labor Day in 2010, asking for another $50 billion in spending.

His stimulus plans always include green jobs and lots of greenbacks for them. As the White House website quotes Obama, “the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of jobs — but only if we accelerate that transition.”

On his Midwest bus tour this month, Obama pledged an additional $2.4 billion for green jobs, especially to make batteries for electric cars.  It was another re-hash.  The 2009 “stimulus” bill already provided $2.4 billion for the same purpose.  A typical result: “From that amount, $300 million in grants went to Johnson Controls to manufacture batteries.  According to the White House, thus far the firm has added 150 jobs because of the grant. That means the government spent about $2 million per job.”

Green jobs are about government subsidies, cronyism, and job cannibalism. They aren’t self-sustaining because they rely on giveaways of taxpayer money and they cannibalize existing jobs.

As Aaron Glantz recently wrote in The New York Times, “federal and state efforts to stimulate creation of green jobs have largely failed” and Obama’s goal of creating 5 million new green jobs within 10 years is a “pipe dream.”

Many others have known this for quite some time.

The Washington Times reported almost a year ago: “After months of hype about the potential for green energy to stimulate job growth and lead the economy out of a recession, the results turned out to be disappointing, if not dismal.”

ABC News found that 80% of the $2 billion set aside in the “stimulus” package for “green jobs” is going overseas — mostly to China.

Too many green jobs and renewable energy companies can’t make it without taxpayer subsidies. Some can’t make it even with that help, such as Evergreen Solar in Massachusetts, which went bankrupt even with $40 million of help. (It was offered even more.)

Because of how they backfire, it’s proper to ask whether these are “Green Jobs? Or Gangrene?”  Academics have explained the backfire in articles such as “Seven Myths of Green Jobs.”

The green agenda soaks taxpayers.  But it also packs a double wallop: First taxpayers are hit to pay for the subsidies, then everyone is hit by higher energy prices caused by energy taxes and regulations.

The waste should be obvious even to die-hard liberals like Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), who last week told MSNBC, “Green jobs have been about a lot of talk and not a lot has been happening on that.”

Actually, a lot of spending has been happening. Just not much job creation.

Sadly, when it comes to green jobs, President Obama’s Labor Day jobs speech is likely to be just another summer rerun.

Former Congressman Istook is a distinguished fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

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  • Tess2468

    Do NOT issue any new subsidies.
    Cut ALL Current Subsidies in HALF, NOW.
    Let wind and solar energy survive or collapse on its own.

    Why don’t we make the wind turbines (or whatever they are called) in the USA?

    It is my understanding that the US Federal Government gave money to INDIA for their Solar Plant. WHY?

  • You’re Kidding Right

    Obama didn’t get it then, and doesn’t get it now.  Government can’t spend it’s way out of a recession!  And no matter how you look at it, socialism in America WILL NOT WORK!  Europe, UK, Spain, Greece, Russia, they are all screaming at the top of thier lungs, DONT DO IT, SOCIALISM DOESN’T WORK!   

  • Brandonmichael

    The best solution to both green energy, job creation and putting some money back in the pockets of the people is to promote, research and supply quality solar shingles.  SOlar shingles if done right would be durable and should be a building standard for all new construction homes.  This would stimulate building, reduce the load on the grid, allow for people to pay less money for costly energy from power companies and allow for the new construction industry to capitalize on all the other mandated “energy” appliances out there.

    The only problem is that the lobbyist for the power companies would have a conniption !!!

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  • Anonymous

    the only thing green about these jobs is OUR green money going to the corrupt cronies, and chinese