Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer misstated a key top-line statistic from a report that she referenced to tout her ambitious green energy mandate.
On Tuesday, Whitmer signed seven bills in Detroit that commit the state to reaching 100% green energy by 2040, one of the most ambitious state-level green energy mandates in the country. In her speech in Detroit, an official press release and further comments about the package, Whitmer said that the laws will create nearly 160,000 jobs by 2050 in conjunction with federal legislation, but that assertion is incorrect: the report informing that statistic finds that the new laws will create 158,260 job-years added, a different metric than jobs added.
The report defines a job-year as one job held for one year. By this definition, for example, five people working on a new solar installation for three years amounts to fifteen job-years added, even though there are only five people actually occupying jobs.
Nevertheless, Whitmer claimed that the green energy mandate will “create 160,000 good-paying jobs” in her speech in Detroit marking the legislation’s enactment and in the official press release for the signing. The press release cites the report for the job growth figure. She then repeated the same claim in a video posted to X, formerly Twitter. (RELATED: Petition To Recall Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Surges Past 180K Signatures)
The climate bills I signed accomplish A LOT! Let’s see if I can get it all in in 30 seconds… 👇 pic.twitter.com/eBfdACItUT
— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) November 29, 2023
To calculate its total number of job-years added, the report includes “direct jobs”— such as workers hired to construct wind turbines— as well as “indirect jobs” and “induced jobs.” The report defines “indirect jobs” as those created to supply “direct job” workers with the goods and services they need, like steel and cement. “Induced jobs” are jobs that are created by the increases in economic activity driven by “direct jobs” and “indirect jobs.”
It is unclear how the report, titled the “The Michigan Clean Energy Framework: Assessing the Economic and Health Benefits of Policies to Achieve Michigan’s Climate Goals,” arrived at the job-years added figure. The report mostly summarizes the analysis rather than demonstrating the underlying calculations conducted to arrive at final figures.
The report also finds that the legislation “would reduce average annual household energy costs by approximately $145” in the state. Like the “jobs” statistic, Whitmer cited this figure in her speech, the press release and the video posted to X. As is the case with the job-years added statistic, the report does not demonstrate explicitly how that number was calculated, instead plugging it into a table as a final figure.
The figure that Whitmer cites sharply contrasts with the findings of analysis conducted by the Mackinac Center, a pro-free market think tank based in Michigan that found that the state’s citizens “can expect to pay an additional $2,746 in energy costs each year just to experience more blackouts” with Whitmer’s green energy mandate in place.
“Reliable natural gas power plants support good jobs and provide efficient electricity to Michiganders. Democrats’ new laws to close these plants will put people out of work, and the massive investments in unreliable wind and solar power will leave families with higher electric bills and susceptible to even more power outages,” Michigan State Rep. Matt Hall, who leads the Republican caucus in the state’s lower chamber, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “When you can’t sell job-crushing policies, you resort to made-up numbers and deception.”
One of the bills Whitmer signed on Tuesday, SB-519, will “provide for the adjustment of transition-impacted workers into new industries” by establishing a “Community and Worker Economic Transition Office in the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.” The manufacturing industry, which provides more than 700,000 jobs in the state, could be hit hard by significant decreases in energy reliability and affordability.
“Democrats even created a new office for job loss because they know these mandates will hurt the workers of our state, so it’s not surprising the governor keeps pushing these job distortions to cover up how terrible these mandates will be,” Hall told the DCNF.
Notably, the report was prepared by 5 Lakes Energy and the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council (MEIBC), while the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) “supported and advised” it.
The RMI is a Colorado-based environmentalist think tank and de facto activist group that advocates for a rapid energy transition to counter climate change. Over the past ten years, it has received millions of dollars of grants from left-wing and environmentalist grantmaking organizations, including— but not limited to— the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the ClimateWorks Foundation and the Bezos Earth Fund, according to Influence Watch.
The RMI provided some funding for a questionably-conducted study that linked gas stoves to about 12.7% of childhood asthma cases. That particular study was laundered through numerous reports in the corporate press, while green energy advocates and environmentalists pointed toward its findings as proof that increasing electric stove adoption is a good way to improve health outcomes. Additionally, the study was co-authored by the manager of RMI’s “carbon-free buildings” department.
5 Lakes Energy is a consultancy that “supports nonprofits, businesses, and government agencies in pursuing their clean energy goals” by “designing and implementing climate solutions,” according to its website. “5 Lakes Energy performed the analyses presented in the report and drafted most of the report. We performed these analyses using the RMI Energy Policy Simulator,” a spokesperson told the DCNF.
The MEIBC, meanwhile, is a trade association that focuses on firms in Michigan’s “advanced energy” economy; nearly every one of the MEIBC’s members are green energy companies or otherwise related to the green energy industry.
Whitmer’s office, RMI, the MEIBC and all did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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