Obama touts clean-energy jobs, despite disappointing record

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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In his Inauguration Day address on Monday, President Barack Obama promised to continue his push for the U.S. to be the world’s green-energy leader.

“The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult,” Obama said. “But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries — we must claim its promise.”

“That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure — our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks,” Obama added. “That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.”

However, reports show that the federal government’s efforts to promote green jobs over the past few years have been disappointing.

During the president’s 2012 campaign, he promised to create 5 million green jobs. The Labor Department reported in March that there are 3.1 million people employed in green jobs nationwide.

But Republicans argued the administration was simply reclassifying jobs to prove that green-jobs programs worked.

“It’s about politics. It’s always been about politics,” said California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa. “If you work at the Salvation Army, that’s a green job.”

During a hearing with senior Labor Department officials earlier this year, Issa revealed that the Obama administration had very loose standards for what it counted as a green job. Issa found that oil lobbyists, bus drivers, garbage men, bicycle shop employees and used-record store clerks were counted by the administration as having green jobs. (RELATED VIDEO: Issa grills Labor Department on green jobs)

The 2009 stimulus package contained $90 billion for green energy, including $500 million for a Labor Department “green jobs” training program. However, it was reported that the department’s inspector general found that fewer than 31,000 people were trained the program — only 38 percent of what had been expected — and that fewer than 12,000 people held onto green jobs longer than six months.

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

A hearing by the House energy and commerce committee in June revealed that $10 billion that had been spent on the Section 1603 green energy grant program created an estimated 8,042 jobs in construction and operations, at a cost of $1.2 million per job.

The administration also came under fire for the wasted taxpayer dollars and lost jobs that resulted from the failures of government-backed renewable energy companies, such as Solyndra and Abound Solar.

Solyndra went bankrupt after receiving $535 million from the Energy Department, and after Obama said in 2010 that “the true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra.”

The company filed for bankruptcy in August 2011 and laid off 1,100 workers.

Abound Solar was approved for a $400 million Energy Department loan guarantee, but went bankrupt and fired 280 employees after only drawing on $70 million of the loan guarantee.

A Daily Caller News Foundation investigation also revealed that the company was selling underperforming solar panels, and may have misled lenders to keep itself afloat. (RELATED: Abound selling faulty solar panels)

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