Green jobs have become a core rallying cry for progressives, a way to talk about a key economic benefit of jumpstarting the transition to clean energy economy. And green jobs are very much a reality — last year alone jobs in the wind industry increased 35,000 or 70%, a fact lost on much of the media (see “Voodoo economics reporting“). You can expect any good progressive idea to see a knee-jerk push back by conservatives. Today’s guest post by Frank O’Donnell of The Campaign for America’s Future (first published here) is on this very subject.
As the Senate continues to wrestle with the economic stimulus legislation, it’s been fascinating to note the counter-attack against the idea of “green jobs.”Just yesterday, for example, CNN followed a green pitch by President Obama with an interview with one Thomas Pyle, described as being with the “Institute for Energy Research.” (See transcript, below.) Pyle attacked the idea of promoting renewable energy.
What CNN didn’t tell viewers — could this be because CNN recently fired its entire environmental unit and now appears utterly clueless in covering these issues? [see "CNN fires staff covering science and environment, hires psychic to cover climate change"] is who Pyle is, and what is the “Institute for Energy Research.”
So, let us fill in a few gaps. First, on Pyle:
The “Institute’s” web site www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/staff/ blandly discusses his work for unnamed clients and notes he previously worked for “the Majority Whip of the United States House of Representatives.”
In case you’re wondering, that was Tom “The Hammer” DeLay. Pyle left to become an oil industry lobbyist for Koch Industries, known not only for spending lavishly on Republican political candidates, but also for being a major underwriter of right-wing, pro-oil industry front groups (including the Cato Institute, which also was cited in the CNN story!) http://projects.publicintegrity.org/oil/report.aspx?aid=347
Presumably, we needn’t delve deeper into the disgraced DeLay or the fact that Pyle’s name later surfaced in an e-mail in connection with the Jack Abramoff scandal. www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9913002/ (There is no evidence that Pyle did anything illegal, though government ethics experts raised questions about the incident.)
Let’s turn for the moment to the “Institute,” which blandly describes itself as “a not-for-profit organization that conducts intensive research and analysis on the functions, operations, and government regulation of global energy markets.” It touts its use of “objective science” and “impartial and unbiased” principles. www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/about-us/.
And yet it always appears to side with the fossil fuel industries — while inveighing against “subsidies” for renewable energy and “sensationalized” media coverage of global warming. (The Institute’s president, Robert L. Bradley, Jr., was corporate director for public policy analysis at Enron. Other staffers worked in such jobs as at the Mercatus Center — another Koch-funded front group — and as aide to ousted Congressman and oil industry buddy Richard Pombo.) Pyle, by the way, had a busy week helping the oil and gas industry — he also trashed Interior Secretary Salazar’s decision to shelve the Bush-granted oil and gas drilling leases near Utah’s national parks. (Joining him in this trashing was another front group — “Americans for American Energy,” created by ex-Republican Capitol Hill staffer and ex-Dick Cheney staffer James Simms.)
Pyle’s “Institute” is also a “partner” of an oil industry lobbying front group called “American Energy Alliance” www.americanenergyalliance.org/, whose priorities appear to include oil drilling off the coasts, oil drilling in Alaska, and attacking the idea of permitting California to enforce its greenhouse gas pollution standards for motor vehicles. (We’d need less oil if these are enforced.)
So next time a clueless CNN or other media out puts on an “expert,” you might want to inquire about that expert’s true agenda.
Bipartisan Meeting on Stimulus Package; President Obama at Energy Department; Stimulating Energy Jobs?
5 February 2009
CNN: CNN Newsroom
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour, breaking news here on CNN. They’re working on that stimulus plan…
[PRESIDENT OBAMA SPEAKS ABOUT GREEN JOBS AT THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY]
So we’ve been talking a lot about renewable energy. So here’s a question. It’s also part of that economic stimulus package that goes before Congress. Both the Senate and the House versions include billions of energy projects. Here’s the question — will that money create jobs?
Kitty Pilgrim has — finds out for us.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a perfect world, energy would be clean, plentiful and cheap, generated by wind and sun. A great goal, but some say not appropriate for a stimulus plan.
PETER VAN DOREN, CATO INSTITUTE: Voter sentiment for renewable energy is kind of a make believe fantasy that somehow money can come from heaven and make things beautiful and cheap and green all at the same time, and no one’s bills go up. And of course none of that’s possible.
PILGRIM: There are lots of reasons for our economy and environment to invest in wind and solar energy, but wind and solar are capital- intensive industries, not labor intensive. So job creation would be expensive.
According to the Center for American Progress, it would take $50,000 of taxpayer money to create every green job, a government subsidized job in an industry already heavily subsidized. The House stimulus proposal of $18 billion would be 10 times the current government funding for renewable energy. The Senate plan of $14 billion is seven times higher. And neither plan would spend the money quickly.
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: Whether you’re talking 14 or 18, you only have about two that could possibly be properly spent in the first two years. These projects are taking ten-plus years to get off the ground because even those who say they’re environmentalists don’t want them in their back yard.
PILGRIM: And the Congressional Budge Office says the new funding would not be stimulative. “We therefore expect that the proportion of spending that would occur in the first few years would be lower than for the existing programs, reflecting the time it would take DOE to establish new programs.”
Some say the heavily-subsidized renewable energy industry does not deserve even more money.
THOMAS PYLE, INST. FOR ENERGY RESEARCH: That money doesn’t grow on trees. It comes from somewhere. So if we are spending taxpayer dollars to prop up these industries that wouldn’t otherwise exist in the private sector, we are diverting those resources away from other things.
PILGRIM: Kitty Pilgrim, CNN.
One reason I am republishing this post is that the Institute for Energy Research has become a fountain of bad analysis and I expect we’ll be hearing from them again and again — in part because I know Bradley from his Enron days, and he keeps emailing me their stuff.
- Obama’s amazing speech at wind-turbine-parts maker
- A blueprint for greening small businesses and SBA
- Stimulating the economy with green buildings
- Yale Environment 360: A Green Agenda for Obama’s First 100 Days
- The five reasons for an energy-efficient stimulus
- Principles for Green & Equitable Stimulus
- Green Jobs 101
- Must Read: Van Jones and the English Language