Federal government green jobs initiatives are long on promises and short on results. The Obama administration promised a federal Department of Energy $38 billion loan guarantee program and claimed it would create or save 65,000 jobs. According to a report in The Washington Post, government records indicate that the federal initiative has created only 3,545 jobs. The relatively small number of jobs created by the program comes at a high cost to taxpayers who have to foot the bill when the high-risk ventures fail.
The announced bankruptcy last week of Solyndra, the recipient of the federal government loan guarantee, could cost taxpayers as much as $527 million dollars. That stands as a stark reminder of the government’s inability to pick economic winners in complex energy markets. The high visibility of the Solyndra project, due to its backing by the Obama administration, has led to a congressional hearing to determine if the taxpayer losses are just due to typical government ineptness or if fraud is involved. No matter what the investigation discovers, the fact is that government promotion of green energy is a risky bet for taxpayers.
While the political class has been busy creating the myth of green jobs, the energy industry has been busy discovery new energy sources in North America. Federal and state officials interested in seeing more jobs created would do best by getting out of the way of energy job providers. Taking the following actions would be a good start:
- Open up the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve for new exploration and development of oil and gas reserves.
- Encourage the development of oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Direct the EPA to get out of the way of building a pipeline from Canada to bring oil derived from Canadian oil sands.
- Not use environmental regulations to prevent hydraulic fracturing for vast quantities of recoverable natural gas.
If government officials continue to pursue the green energy jobs myth at the expense of encouraging the development of traditional forms of energy vital to the functioning of the American economy, we can expect even more Americans to be out of work.