Environment Forum

from James Pethokoukis:

Create jobs, don’t go green

As usual, Joel Kotkin nicely encapsulates the problem at hand:

Now the question is whether the president can refocus on jobs. This will take, among other things, backing off the economically ruinous climate change agenda. Even the most gullible economic development officials are beginning to realize that "green jobs" are no panacea. In fact, as evident in Spain, Germany and even Denmark, over-tough green legislation can destroy the productive capacity of the most enlightened industries. Similarly in green strongholds like California and Oregon, the mounting climate change jihad could slow and even explode the incipient recovery by imposing ever more draconian regulation on businesses that can choose to migrate to less onerous locales.

There are some hopeful signs of Obama's repositioning. His recent moves embracing nuclear power and off-shore oil drilling, however inadequate, show that he's at least trying to triangulate between the green purists and the unreconstructed despoilers. Some sort of moderated energy legislation--there's no way to get the more radical House version through the Senate--would reassure businesses and the public that the president has jobs as his No. 1 priority.

Are U.S. solar jobs here to stay? Senators fight for a yes.

A trio of U.S. senators this week introduced a bill to spur solar manufacturing jobs in the United States.

Through additional tax credits, the legislation aims to encourage more U.S. companies to make solar equipment, creating jobs and building up the country’s clean energy economy.

Many — from politicians and environmentalists to investors –  have pinned great hopes on green jobs. Clean energy could create 850,000 manufacturing jobs in the United States, according to recent research Reuters reported this week.

Vegas likes cleantech stakes

The subtitle of Senate leader Harry Reid’s Monday clean energy conference was ‘jobs’ and the unofficial subtitle was: ouch!

Nevada exists on mining and gambling, and neither is doing too great at the moment. So Vegas is chasing the money to green projects, envisioning solar photovoltaic and solar thermal plants popping up all over its desert to supply California and anyone else that wants clean power.

The alternative — no work. Union building trades unemployment is 50 percent and rising in Reno, the northwestern part of the state near the California border, and in the high 20s in the area around Vegas, where the big projects are counted on three fingers, AFL-CIO state Executive Secretary-Treasurer Danny Thompson said.

Do green jobs cannibalize other jobs?

President Obama has promised to help create millions of new green jobs, saying that doing so will spur the U.S. economy toward recovery — and has held out Spain as having “surged ahead” of the rest of the world by investing in renewable energy.

But a new study of Spain’s renewable energy initiatives has found that creating green jobs actually destroys jobs in other sectors — and  most of the time doesn’t lead to permanent employment.

The study, which was directed by an economics professor at Juan Carlos University of Madrid, found that every green job created by the Spanish government destroyed an average of 2.2 other jobs, and that only 1 in 10 were permanent.

California’s green jobs start young

California’s green jobs program is off to the races with $20 million in state and fed funds for a 20-month program for some 1,000 ‘at risk’ young adults. The California Green Corps will have a little of everything — green job training, a stipend, educational requirement and community service. Whether green industry, which is much more battered by the recession than many had hoped, will be able to hire when the government tap turns off is still a subject of debate. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger sure hopes so.

The state has high hopes for green — the folding kind — from green — the environmentally friendly kind. The state’s fact sheet linked above suggests 114,000 jobs and $25.3 billion in additional annual revenue from California green policies. Forecasting is tough, though, and estimates of what California’s global warming legislation will mean to the economy have been savaged. The state is pushing ahead with policies to combat global warming while acknowledging the economy might force changes.

Reuters pool photo

Green jobs really on the way? New U.S. solar plants announced this week

Are those green jobs Obama has been promising already on their way? Really?

Despite a weak global economy and all the gloom that has brought to the solar industry of late, two solar companies this week quietly bucked the trend by announcing new manufacturing plants here in the United States.

On Monday, Hemlock Semiconductor said it would invest up to $3 billion to expand U.S. production of polysilicon, the key raw material used to make solar cells and semiconductors.  That will include $1.2 billion to build a new facility in Clarksville, Tennesee, and up to $1 billion to expand its current operations in Hemlock, Michigan. The company said the investment will create 800 permanent positions at the plants (and a few hundred more once Clarksville is expanded) and 1,800 construction jobs.

A day later, Signet Solar said it will build a solar panel manufacturing plant in Belen, New Mexico. The first phase of the plant will create 200 jobs, though ultimately it will employ about 600 people, the Menlo Park, California-based company said.