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$500 million ‘green jobs’ program falls short of employment goals

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Betsi Fores
The Daily Caller News Foundation

A $500 million dollar green jobs program that was part of the stimulus package has failed to produce the jobs and training programs it promised, Reuters reports.

Based on a report by the Labor Department’s inspector general, fewer than 31,000 people received green job training under the program — just  38 percent of what was expected. Further, of those who received this training, less than 12,000 held on to these jobs for longer than 6 months, only 16 percent of the result organizations who were awarded grants targeted.

“The impact of the Recovery Act Green Jobs training program has been limited in terms of reported employment outcomes,” the report said.

The Labor Department disagreed with its own inspector general and defended the program. “This report does not take into account that nearly half of the grants are still active and thousands of workers are still participating in the program,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.

According to department analysis, most participants who obtained jobs by December 31, 2010 were still employed. The 13,000 who received training by June 30, 2011, 57 percent had found jobs, the analysis said.

The $500 million dollar training program was part of the Department of Labor’s $90 billion earmarked for green spending from the stimulus package. The Obama administration had hoped to create 700,000 jobs in the clean energy industry, developing renewable power and making buildings for energy efficient.

“The inability to document program outcomes raises questions about what was achieved with the significant investment represented by this program,” the report said.

Spending on green energy has become highly controversial throughout the Obama administration. Stories of companies such as Solyndra and Abound Solar, companies that have gone bankrupt since receiving government insured loans of $500 million and $400 million respectively, have dirtied the clean image President Obama paints of the industry on the campaign trail.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa requested a copy of the inspector general’s audit of the program. A frequent critic of the president’s green initiatives, the California Republican described the program in a statement as “poorly thought-out, mismanaged and dysfunctional.”

The Labor Department announced it would conduct its own study following the program’s official end in September.

“This program and other administration investments have supported hundreds of thousands of workers and helped to build new industries,” the department’s spokeswoman said, also adding that  wind and solar power has doubled in the last four years.

Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley argued that the report shows a waste of tax payer dollars.

“It’s important to have this documentation of low success rates the next time someone advocates for an expensive federal stimulus program,” Grassley said in a statement.

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