By Andrew P. Morriss, William T. Bogart,
Andrew Dorchak, & Roger E. Meiners
The old adage “politics makes strange bedfellows” is illustrated in the case of green jobs. As President Obama pledged, green jobs will result in “building solar panels and wind turbines; constructing fuel-efficient cars and buildings; and developing the new energy technologies that will lead to even more jobs.” Although promised before the election, current economic conditions allow the green jobs initiative to be packaged in the massive “economic stimulus” plan—spending billions of taxpayer dollars to help create jobs.
Pouring resources into green jobs that allegedly are environmentally friendly and productive is supported by interest groups such as the Blue Green Alliance (founded by the Sierra Club and United Steel Workers) and the Apollo Alliance and is similarly supported by unions, environmental groups, and politicians.
The basis for the green jobs program is simple: Carbon emissions are causing global warming, so emissions need to be reduced. A way to do this is to encourage non-carbon sources of energy, such as wind turbines and solar power. The result of government action will be many new jobs and a healthier environment. A two-for-one deal!
This policy series, by two PERC senior fellows and two of their colleagues, is a summary of a larger study analyzing green jobs claims made by various special interest groups. The authors find that the claims are based on myths. Fundamental questions about what is at stake in this massive program need to be addressed before billions in additional deficit spending can be justified. The authors discuss the economic defects in the green jobs proposals and show that not only is the price tag of the programs unjustified, but that the costly implications to society could be even greater.