Heritage Foundation pushes ˜completely untrue attack on clean-energy jobs with a panel bought and paid for by dirty energy

The Heritage Foundation held a panel [today] titled “Busting the Myth of Green Jobs” to show that the experience of Spain is “more a cautionary tale than a blueprint for success.” Instead of showcasing the views of unbiased academics and economists, the Heritage Foundation put forth a panel of individuals financially connected to ExxonMobil.

Conservatives hate the notion of green clean energy jobs because their entire anti-science, anti-climate, anti-environment message is built around the (false) notion of a trade-off between reducing pollution and jobs (see “Mything in action: Why conservatives hate green clean energy jobs“).  If you don’t care about the health and well-being of future generations, you certainly don’t care if they have good jobs (or any jobs, for that matter).

President Obama has cut through conservative myths better than anyone: “The choice we face is not between saving our environment and saving our economy. The choice we face is between prosperity and decline…  We can allow climate change to wreak unnatural havoc across the landscape, or we can create jobs working to prevent its worst effects….  The nation that leads the world in creating new energy sources will be the nation that leads the 21st-century global economy.”

The Heritage Foundation, the leading think tank of the conservative movement stagnation, is so retrograde that they even oppose energy efficiency.  They are conservatives who don’t want to conserve anything except a status quo that is inherently unsustainable.  And so it is no surprise that Heritage held a panel today, “Busting the Myth of Green Jobs.”  And it is no surprise that they are pushing a study about the Spanish experience that the Regional Minister of Innovation, Enterprise and Employment for the Government of Navarre has debunked (see here and below).  Perhaps the only surprise is that Heritage couldn’t find a researcher who wasn’t bought and paid for by ExxonMobil, as the researchers at Media Matters documented in a post first published here:

The Entire Heritage Foundation Panel Received Money From ExxonMobil

The Panel: “Join Dr. Calzada, along with Institute for Energy Research (IER) economist Robert Murphy, York College (Pa.) professor Tom Bogart, and Heritage energy analyst Ben Lieberman, to explore the lessons of Spain, and examine some of the fundamental flaws in the green jobs-as-an-economic-salve line of argument.” [Heritage Foundation, accessed 5/4/09]
The ENTIRE PANEL Received Money From ExxonMobil.

Dr. Gabriel Calzada, Professor, King Juan Carlos University, Madrid, Spain:

The lead writer for Wall Street Journal’s Environmental Capital blog wrote: “And just where did that study come from? Professor Gabriel Calzada is the founder and president of the Fundacion Juan de Mariana, a libertarian think tank founded in 2005. He’s also a fellow of the Center for New Europe, a Brussels-based libertarian think tank that in recent years apparently accepted funding from Exxon Mobil.” [Wall Street Journal, 3/30/09; emphasis added]

Robert Murphy, Economist, Institute for Energy Research [IER]:

Almost 10% of the Institute for Energy Research’s 2007 budget was provided by ExxonMobil. [ExxonMobil 2007 Worldwide Giving Report, accessed 5/4/09; IER 2008 Year in Review; 5/4/09]

[It’s worth adding that the President of IER is one Robert Bradley “who previously served as Director of Public Policy Analysis at Enron, where he was a speechwriter for CEO Kenneth Lay,” who was “convicted on fraud and conspiracy charges on May 25, 2006.]

William T. “Tom” Bogart, Professor of Economics, York (Pa.) College:

Bogart’s recent article Green Jobs Myths “was produced with support from the Institute for Energy Research,” who as noted above receives significant funding from ExxonMobil. [Center for American Progress Action Fund, 3/25/09]

Ben Lieberman, Host, Senior Policy Analyst, Energy and Environment, Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies, the Heritage Foundation:

Heritage receives significant financial support from Exxon. In the organization’s 2008 annual report Exxon is listed as a Premier Associate signifying a contribution of at least $50,000. [Heritage Foundation Annual Report 2008]

The debunking of the attack on the Spanish experience with clean energy jobs, first published by Wonk Room here, is reprinted below:

NavarreIn a new letter, an official from the region powering Spain’s renewable industry calls “completely untrue” a study critical of green jobs in his country being promoted today by the Heritage Foundation. The study, from the libertarian think tank Fundacion Juan de Mariana, argued that “for every green job created [in Spain], 2.2 jobs are lost.” Before today’s Heritage event, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Fox News, Western Business Roundtable, National Review, and the American Enterprise Institute have all cited this Spanish study. However, Jos© Mar­a Roig Aldasoro, the Regional Minister of Innovation, Enterprise and Employment for the Government of Navarre responds that green investment “has created wealth, employment and technological development” in Spain:

An article was published recently which has placed a doubt in renewable energy’s ability to create employment; it states that it destroys employment, and therefore, is a factor in the social impoverishment of a country. As I will demonstrate, this statement is completely untrue. In Navarre, the development of renewable energies, and above all wind energy, has created wealth, employment and technological development, and I can assert that this can be achieved in any other region or country.

Aldasoro explains the actual history of green job creation in Navarre:

1994: Unemployment at 12.8%, first wind farm erected.

1998: Unemployment at 10%, 100 installed megawatts of wind power.

2001: Unemployment at 6.8%, two R&D and worker-training centers are opened.

2007: Unemployment of 4.76%, total of 100 new renewable-energy companies created, representing 5% of total GDP.

The report relies on bad numbers, grossly underestimating that Spain’s renewable program created only 50,000 jobs, when official estimates are 188,000. Indeed, the study is claiming that “government spending on renewable energy is less than half as efficient at job creation as private-sector spending,” the Wall Street Journal’s Keith Johnson explains. Critics neglect to say that “Spain’s support for renewable energy came out of existing tax revenues,” so “it’s hard to see how it could have edged out private-sector spending, especially when the Socialist government there has reduced corporate income-tax rates, most recently this past January.”

Yet the Heritage Foundation chose to host the author of this flawed report, Dr. Gabriel Calzada, at an event entitled “Busting the Myth of Green Jobs.” Calzada was joined by Robert Murphy, from the Institute for Energy Research, a fossil-fuel industry think tank, and York College professor William T. “Tom” Bogart, who co-authored a paper for the Institute of Energy Research that called green jobs a “Ponzi scheme.” Heritage, which recently compared green economic reform to Nazi-Soviet collectivism, is continuing its slide into irrelevance.

The reality is that investment in renewable energy sectors creates millions more jobs than does investment in traditional energy sectors, because investment can flow into employing people instead of extracting fuel to burn. The Apollo Alliance reports that “renewable energy creates more jobs than coal: the same investment creates 50% more jobs in wind and in solar than in coal. Energy efficiency is far more labor intensive than generation, creating 21.5 jobs for every $1 million invested, compared to 11.5 jobs for new natural gas generation.” According to a Greenpeace International and European Renewable Energy Council study, building a green economy that would cut United States greenhouse emissions by 45% by 2030 would create a net 7.8 million jobs versus business as usual.

Download the complete letter from Navarre Minister Aldasoro.

8 Responses to Heritage Foundation pushes ˜completely untrue attack on clean-energy jobs with a panel bought and paid for by dirty energy

  1. Palin says:

    At least, all the money is not for their executives.

  2. Reply says:

    Wonderful rapid response Joe.

  3. Pangolin says:

    Green jobs offend two of the most sacred cows of corporate conservatives; captive energy consumers and captive labor market. A house with solar panels on it’s roof and a paid mortgage can practically thumb it’s nose at the market economy with a good garden and a bicycle. Likewise, skilled solar installers and wind energy technicians can command good wages that cannot be easily diminished as they will both be fields where training and experience will overwhelm the ability to easily replace labor.

    Once installed individual homeowners could hire individual solar panel technicians to maintain their systems directly. Throw in an electric bicycle or neighborhood electric vehicle and Exxon wouldn’t have so much as a single thread to pull on.

    Conservatism in the US is about nothing if it isn’t about maintaining authority/dependency relationships. Green jobs go a long way towards freeing people from dependency upon corporations for services and employment.

  4. Leland Palmer says:

    The money that ExxonMobil gives directly seems to be a small fraction of the total money given to causes that ExxonMobil favors.

    From mediatransparency:

    Total Grants to Heritage Foundation, The
    Total $ Granted: $ 66,376,537

    The creation of the influential Heritage Foundation was probably the single most important event in the development of a national network of conservative policy- oriented institutions. Heritage was founded in 1973 by the anti-labor, racist, homophobic brewery magnate Joseph Coors together with prominent right-wing activist Paul Weyrich and wealthy right- wingers Richard Scaife and Edward Noble. The initial funding came from Coors ($250,000), Scaife ($900,000), and “significant sums” from Noble. Large corporations, including Gulf Oil, also made early contributions. In the early 1980s, Heritage reported that “87 top corporations” were supporters. By 1995, it had an annual budget of $25 million.

    Looking at the mediatransparency database, the funding looks coordinated, almost as if it were dictated by one central agency.

  5. I am so glad that someone from Spain is speaking up. A few weeks ago, I wrote an article debunking Calzada’s extremely flawed study and a “climate denier/ green jobs denier” pointed out to me that Spain’s unemployment rate was 14.2%. I knew that unemployment has been extremely high in Spain, since the restoration of democracy thirty years ago, but I did not know what the numbers were. My research revealed that even now, unemployment is lower then it was before the green jobs program was launched. Before the green jobs program was put in place, going back to 1980, there are eighteen years when unemployment was higher in Spain than it is now, with unemployment rates ranging between (24% and 15%). The highest years were between 1993 and 1997 with employment ranging between 24% and 20%. However between 2001 and 2007, unemployment has ranged between 10.5 and 8.5%) still pretty high, but historically low for Spain.

    José María Roig Aldasoro’s letter lends credence to my view that the renewable energy programs in Spain likely prevented the unemployment rate from climbing even higher.

    Another extremely relevant point not addressed in the study is the bursting of Spain’s humongous real estate boom and its impact on employment. During the height of the bubble, Spain accounted for 1/3 of all Europe’s employment, when interest rates rose and the real estate bubble burst, unemployment soared. Similar bubbles had similar results to some degree in Canada, the UK, the US and a few other places. Economists predicted this outcome a few years ago and did not include in green jobs programs as a major factor. What is interesting is that Calzada does not even mention the real estate boom and bust as even being a factor in the rise in unemployment

    There are other issues not taken into consideration. This is a seriously flawed “study”.

  6. Kathryn says:

    I am a scientist and know that conflict-of-interest is a big concern for many. However, the potential for conflict-of-interest does not in and of itself discredit someone. Just as someone who receives money from Exxon may be biased against alternative energy, someone who does not receive money from Exxon may be biased against fossil fuel energy. Furthermore, it is often ignored that people who receive money from government grants tend to favor more government intrusion… but this is not called conflict of interest.

    One final point – I seriously doubt that Exxon is not benefiting from clean energy if that’s where they think the money is. These companies are not ideologically tied to oil; they are tied to making money and pleasing stock holders. If oil looks like it will not keep paying bills, I guarantee that they will (and already have) switched at least part of their efforts away from oil.

  7. Randy says:

    One question for anybody – Why did Spain reduce corporate tax rates recently? To encourage industrial growth? Because of soaring unemployment? I find it interesting how Studies funded by Exxon Mobil are considered to be skewed, but those funded by Media matters are supposed to be neutral? To say that Media Matters is neutral on this issue is ridiculous.

  8. Randy says:

    Where are the spanish unemployment stats from 2008 and 2009? It’s like the present was selectively left out of the information here.