Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told supporters in New York City that, if elected, she would tax the coal, oil and gas industry to create millions of “green” jobs, mimicking the same promise made by President Barack Obama during his first campaign.
“We will make America the clean energy superpower of the 21st century,” Clinton said on Saturday. She added the government would use taxes on fossil fuel extraction “to protect the environment and ease the transition for distressed communities to a more diverse and sustainable economic future.”
“Now, this will create millions of jobs, and countless of new businesses, and enable America to lead the global fight against climate change,” Clinton added.
Clinton’s promise for millions of green jobs comes amid concerns from environmentalists that the former Secretary of State is not serious about tackling global warming — a concern the Clinton campaign is working hard to counter. It seems now that Clinton is rehashing rhetoric used by Obama in 2008.
In 2008, then-candidate Obama promised to “create 5 million ‘green’ jobs” by investing “$150 billion over ten years to deploy clean technologies” to “protect our existing manufacturing base and create millions of new jobs.”
Obama used the promise of green jobs as a tool to win votes and build public support for his green energy programs. The Obama campaign touted that millions of green jobs could be created to lift the country out of recession.
“We are going to invest in renewable, affordable sources of energy,” Obama said in a 2008 campaign speech in Colorado, adding these would be “5 million new jobs that pay well and cannot be outsourced.”
Obama’s green jobs promise, however, never came to fruition. The Obama administration tried to claim there were 3.1 million green jobs in the U.S. in 2013, but that report was quickly debunked because it simply reclassified traditional jobs like garbage men, bus drivers and people working in bicycle repair shops.
Despite directing $90 billion for green energy spending in the stimulus package, the results have been weak. Bloomberg reported in 2012 that “if you take it as true and generously assume similar growth for 2011 and 2012, that’s 675,000 jobs created at best—and 4,325,000 to go.”
Throughout the years, news reports have detailed how government-backed green jobs programs have failed to meet their goals or keep people employed in green industries for long periods of time.
Despite these failures, Clinton is latching onto green jobs rhetoric to sway support away from her opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont. Sanders has strong support from green groups because of his staunch opposition to fossil fuels and advocacy for a strong government response to global warming.
Environmentalists, however, will still likely vote for Clinton in 2016 if she wins the Democratic primary, but won’t do so enthusiastically.
“In the end, if you’re the Democratic candidate in the general election, environmentalists may vote for you no matter what, on the general theory of: Republicans don’t believe in physics,” Bill McKibben, founder of the group 350.org wrote in an open letter to Clinton.
“But that’s different from building the kind of enthusiasm that makes elections easier to win, an enthusiasm that would be essential if you actually planned to change things once taking office,” McKibben wrote. “So with that in mind, it’s worth thinking about why many serious environmentalists currently distrust you, what it would take at a minimum to build trust, and what might ignite deep support.”
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