Green-jobs explosion a “pipe dream,” says …

posted at 10:45 am on August 19, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Investors Business Daily hammers the idea that the US will see a vast expansion of a green-jobs economy.  In an article today, the conservative publication not only publishes data showing that the Porkulus money that would supposedly create a multitude of green jobs ended up creating nearly none at all, the application of billions of dollars in subsidies has actually resulted in a net loss of jobs in this sector over the last two years.  The article calls the fantasy that government subsidies to the so-called “green” industries would create millions of jobs “a pipe dream.”

Oh, wait, excuse me.  That’s not Investors Business Daily.  It’s the New York Times:

In the Bay Area as in much of the country, the green economy is not proving to be the job-creation engine that many politicians envisioned. President Obama once pledged to create five million green jobs over 10 years. Gov. Jerry Brown promised 500,000 clean-technology jobs statewide by the end of the decade. But the results so far suggest such numbers are a pipe dream. …

A study released in July by the non-partisan Brookings Institution found clean-technology jobs accounted for just 2 percent of employment nationwide and only slightly more — 2.2 percent — in Silicon Valley. Rather than adding jobs, the study found, the sector actually lost 492 positions from 2003 to 2010 in the South Bay, where the unemployment rate in June was 10.5 percent.

Federal and state efforts to stimulate creation of green jobs have largely failed, government records show. Two years after it was awarded $186 million in federal stimulus money to weatherize drafty homes, California has spent only a little over half that sum and has so far created the equivalent of just 538 full-time jobs in the last quarter, according to the State Department of Community Services and Development. …

Job training programs intended for the clean economy have also failed to generate big numbers. The Economic Development Department in California reports that $59 million in state, federal and private money dedicated to green jobs training and apprenticeship has led to only 719 job placements — the equivalent of an $82,000 subsidy for each one.

The Times went to the Obama administration’s most visible adviser on green jobs, and remarkably, even reported why he’s no longer at the White House:

“I won’t say I’m not frustrated,” said Van Jones, an Oakland activist who served briefly as Mr. Obama’s green-jobs czar before resigning under fire after conservative critics said he had signed a petition accusing the Bush administration of deliberately allowing the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a claim Mr. Jones denies.

Well, he did sign the petition, and it did say that “high-level government officials may have deliberately allowed the September 11th attacks to occur.”  In fact, Jones didn’t deny signing it; he merely denied agreeing with it.

Since I brought IBD into the story, let’s read what they’ve written about green-jobs stimulus this week:

Stimulus funds intended to boost the green economy haven’t been well spent. The latest example of this is Monday’s bankruptcy filing by Evergreen Solar Inc.

The Massachusetts company that the White House once said “is hoping to hire 90 to 100 people” thanks to stimulus money has $485.6 million in debt. Evergreen closed a factory in March, reports the Boston Herald, and cut 800 jobs. A Michigan plant is to be shut down, as well, causing the loss of even more jobs.

Evergreen isn’t the only supposed conservation company that can’t make it even when fronted with piles of taxpayer money. Green Vehicles of Salinas, Calif., which has burned through more than $500,000 in money “invested” by the city, folded last month without having produced anything of significance. The company promised it would employ about 70 and pay back Salinas taxpayers with $700,000 a year in city taxes.

Farther north in Seattle, stimulus funds are also being wasted. A $20 million federal grant for home weatherization has, according to KOMO news, retrofitted only three houses and created 14 jobs in more than a year.

It looks like the Right and Left agree: green-jobs stimulus is a waste of money and time.  It’s time to get government out of the social-engineering business.  Not only does it cost us a fortune, it just flat-out doesn’t work.

Meanwhile, via Allahpundit and the headlines, it looks like all the taxpayer subsidies for the Chevy Volt are paying off just as well as the rest of the green-jobs stimulus efforts from the Obama administration:

Introduced last December, Volt is one of the first new vehicles to test the potential market for electric propulsion.  It has been going head-to-head with Nissan’s pure battery-electric LEAF.  Sales of the two vehicles have been marginal, at best, though the makers insist that has more to do with limited supply than buyer demand.

Through the end of July, Chevy has sold about 3,200 of the plug-in hybrids compared to 4,500 Nissan Leafs.  But both makers have begun ramping up production, General Motors forecasting sales of around 16,000 for the year as a whole – including a small number of Volt clone Opel Amperas targeted at markets abroad.

But a new study by CNW marketing raises a red flag, finding that the potential buyers GM is most counting on are rapidly losing interest in the Volt.  In March, 21% of so-called Early Adapters said they were “very likely” to consider buying a Volt, while 38.1% said they were “likely” to do the same.  That slipped to 14.6% saying “very likely” in July, and 31.1% “likely.”  Among EV Enthusiasts, reports the CNW study, the number of those likely or very likely to consider Volt fell from a combined 71% to 51% during the same four-month period. …

The big problem is the plug-in’s price, CNW data indicate.  When first introduced, the Volt carried a $41,000 sticker, though it qualified for a $7,500 federal tax credit.  For 2012, the Chevy will drop to $39,995, a $1,005 cut, though it is still thousands more than the Leaf – and nearly double the price of a base Chevrolet Cruze compact, which shares the same underpinnings as Volt.

I have no problem with the private sector taking a flyer on new technology.  I have a big problem with taxpayer funding to indemnify them against the very obvious risks of producing a vehicle at twice the cost and half the real value of its competition.  Time to pull the plug on taxpayer support for the Volt, especially since the only people who will claim the tax credit will be those who would have bought the car anyway.

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments