Why isn't anyone talking about the failure of Obama's 'Green Economy?'
This piece by Andy Sullivan at Reuters is remarkable for how it highlights the monumental gap between President Obama's promises about how going green will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and begin to transform the economy, and the actual results in the last 3 years.
Three weeks ago, President Barack Obama stood in front of a sea of gleaming solar panels in Boulder City, Nevada, to celebrate his administration's efforts to promote "green energy."
Stretching row upon row into the desert, the Copper Mountain Solar Project not far from Las Vegas provided an impressive backdrop for the president.
Built on public land, the facility is the largest of its kind in the United States. Its 1 million solar panels provide enough energy to power 17,000 homes.
And it employs just 10 people.
The wind turbine job market is actually shrinking:
The wind industry, for example, has shed 10,000 jobs since 2009 even as the energy capacity of wind farms has nearly doubled, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Meanwhile, the oil and gas industry has added 75,000 jobs since Obama took office, according to Labor Department statistics.
The bottom line is that green energy has been oversold:
Three years after Obama launched a push to build a job-creating "green" economy, the White House can say that more than 1 million drafty homes have been retrofitted to lower heating and cooling costs, while energy generation from renewable sources such as wind and solar has nearly doubled since 2008.
But the millions of "green jobs" Obama promised have been slow to sprout, disappointing many who had hoped that the $90 billion earmarked for clean-energy efforts in the recession-fighting federal stimulus package would ease unemployment - still above 8 percent in March.
Supporters say the administration over-promised on the jobs front and worry that a backlash could undermine support for clean-energy policies in general.
"All of this stuff is extraordinarily worthy for driving long-term economic transformation but extremely inappropriate to sell as a short-term job program," said Mark Muro, a clean-energy specialist at the Brookings Institution.
Others say the green-jobs push has crowded out less fashionable efforts that would have put people back to work quickly.
"From my perspective it makes more sense for us to arm our clients with the basic skills, rather than saying, 'By golly, you will do something in the green economy or you won't work,'" said Janet Blumen, the head of the Foundation for an Independent Tomorrow, a Las Vegas job-training organization that has seen positions in trucking and accounting go unfilled because training money had been earmarked for green efforts.
A $500 million job-training program has so far helped fewer than 20,000 people find work, far short of its goal.
Obama's promises on green energy in 2008 made him sound modern, forward looking, even cool. But the truth was there for anyone who cared to see it; most of his program - including the $90 billion for green energy in the stim bill - was unrealistic and deceptive. It's not clear that all that money added a significant amount of renewable electrical generation to the national grid that wouldn't have been built in the first place, and plenty of evidence that much of it was misdirected (Solyndra and many other loan recipients as well as money for job training gone to waste).
For all his promises, Obama's green plans have utterly failed. The question is: Why isn't anyone talking about this?