John Kerry, ‘green jobs’ mystic

Christopher Horner Senior Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute
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One should hold deeply mitigated expectations for a senator who, as lead author of a cap-and-trade bill, admits he doesn’t know what cap-and-trade means. But Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is tempting me to think that, if he is merely uninformed, it must be willfully so. Or else he’s got an uncomfortable relationship with the truth and, it would seem particularly given the absence of specifics or examples, is making stuff up.

Kerry Picket reports the following stunner, in the face of Spain’s disaster:

Senator Kerry told reporters that “every study” shows that the subsidizing of alternative energy creates jobs, telling reporters on Tuesday, “We just told you that every study that has been made says that this creates hundreds of thousands of jobs a year,” he said. “Here we are in this month, and we just had 27,000 private sector jobs created. Do Americans want to say ‘no’ to anywhere from 250,000 to 540,000 jobs a year for the next ten, twenty years?”

However, according to a 2009 study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid, Spain, the subsidizing of renewable energy was a complete disaster. In fact, the study said that for every new job depending on energy price supports, at least 2.2 jobs in other industries will disappear. Bloomberg reported:

The premiums paid for solar, biomass, wave and wind power – – which are charged to consumers in their bills — translated into a $774,000 cost for each Spanish “green job” created since 2000, said Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at the university and author of the report.

‘The loss of jobs could be greater if you account for the amount of lost industry that moves out of the country due to higher energy prices,’ he said in an interview.

I asked Senator Kerry about Spain’s own failed experience in the area of subsidizing alternative energy, and the Massachusetts Senator’s response sounded similar to someone saying Marxism or Stalinism never succeeded, because it was never implemented correctly. AUDIO

“If you look at other European countries, it depends entirely on exactly how committed they were and how far they were willing to go in terms of the breadth of the program,” he said.

“You have some anomalies in some countries where they began slowly. They didn’t have the right incentives, they over-subsidized a couple of different things– we’ve learned something from some of those mistakes, but I’m confident that the way we’re approaching this is really private sector determined. That’s the key here.” (All emphasis is mine.)

Huh. OK. Here’s Germany, also cited by President Obama as his model, ten times I think, according to the old-line, state-supported think tank RWI-Essen:

[A]lthough Germany’s promotion of renewable energies is commonly portrayed in the media as setting a “shining example in providing a harvest for the world” (The Guardian 2007), we would instead regard the country’s experience as a cautionary tale of massively expensive environmental and energy policy that is devoid of economic and environmental benefits. …

[T]he commonly advanced argument that renewables confer a double dividend or ‘win-win solution’ in the form of environmental stewardship and economic prosperity is disingenuous. In this article, we argue that Germany’s principal mechanism of supporting renewable technologies through feed-in tariffs, in fact, imposes high costs without any of the alleged positive impacts on emissions reductions, employment, energy security, or technological innovation…

[T]his study’s results suggest that renewable support schemes are questionable climate policy instruments in the presence of the ETS…

Second, numerous empirical studies have consistently shown the net employment balance to be zero or even negative in the long run, a consequence of the high opportunity cost of supporting renewable energy technologies. Indeed, it is most likely that whatever jobs are created by renewable energy promotion would vanish as soon as government support is terminated…”

Italy? As Carlo Stagnaro and a colleague summarized in the Wall Street Journal:

“The “green economy” is supposed to be a win-win situation, as massive subsidies for renewable energy sources and other “clean” technologies would help both the environment and the economic recovery. The facts on the ground tell a different story, though. In Italy, for example, we calculated that each green job comes at the expense of 4.8 “dirty” jobs. That’s an awful lot of waste for a movement that’s meant to be all about efficient resource use.”

And then there’s Obama’s replacement model for Spain once that cat got out of the bag, Denmark, according to the ultra-establishment think tank CEPOS.

Senator. Spain’s experience is not anomalous. Maybe a real hearing in which the elected representatives sought to delve into facts as opposed to hold dog and pony shows to support their dogma, is in order before pushing this much further?

Christopher C. Horner serves as a Senior Fellow at CEI.