In the first 100 days of President Barack Obama’s administration, we’ve heard time and again about how so-called ‘green jobs’ are the solution to our nation’s economic woes. In his State of the State Address, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon called green jobs the “next-generation” of Missouri’s economy. Across the board, Democratic politicians have been quick to stake our economic recovery on the creation of a new ‘green economy.’
Yet in Spain, the economy suffered when efforts to create green jobs destroyed nearly 110,000 jobs in other industries according to a study released last month from Spain’s King Juan Carlos University. It suggests that the Democrats’ plan for economic renewal through ‘green collar’ jobs may hurt the economy far more than it helps. Gabriel Calzada Alvarez, a professor of applied environmental economics, explains that Spanish citizens currently suffer from higher taxes, more public deficit and ever-increasing energy prices—all the result of the government’s efforts to create a green economy.
This study found that consumers paid much higher prices for home electricity due to government-mandated use of premium priced green energy. In turn this caused many employers to leave the country in search of cheaper energy elsewhere. After accounting for the increased cost of electricity and the government expenditure used to create the new green jobs, Calzada estimates that the Spanish spent $774,000 for each job created.
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President Obama’s 2010 budget proposal includes about $20 billion dollars in tax incentives for clean-energy programs. Dr. Calzada estimates that if the Administration fulfills its promise to create between 3 and 5 million green jobs, the program would result in the direct loss of 6.6 to 11 million existing jobs.
We’re already in a recession—as consumers, we simply can’t afford to subsidize green energy projects. Renewable energy consumes an enormous amount of taxpayer resources in its production, and in the end, still results in a higher cost to consumers. Here in Missouri, AmerenUE pushed hard for the state legislature to pass the Missouri Clean and Renewable Energy Construction Act. This bill would have permitted utility companies to increase customer rates—and bypass a mandatory approval process with the Missouri Public Service Commission—so long as increase was in the name of creating green energy projects. This bill promoted the very kind of programs that have ruined the Spanish economy. Luckily for Missourians, it died in the legislature last week.
As we look into our economic future, it’s important that we base our plans for recovery on sound economic principles. Research shows that green jobs won’t help us—they’ll hurt us. Obama and Nixon should take heed of this study and produce realistic, viable plans for our economic future.