Green Jobs Cost Too Much, Pay Too Little, Says Senator

Josiah Ryan | April 27, 2009 | 6:25pm EDT
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Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on Green Jobs and the New Economy

( - Green jobs created through government spending are often low paying, cost too much, and destroy jobs that already exist, said Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), the ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on Green Jobs and the New Economy, in reference to a new study on the issue at a press conference on Capitol Hill on Monday.
But a scholar from the liberal Center for American Progress (CAP) told that the study was disputable, and last week President Obama continued to promote federal spending on green energy as a means of boosting the nation’s foundering economy.
Bond, along with Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, held the press conference to announce the release of the report, “Yellow Light on Green Jobs,” produced by his subcommittee’s minority staff.
“This report signals a yellow light urging caution with green jobs,” said Bond. “We must avoid green job proposals that result in killing millions of existing jobs to pay for new green jobs, require expensive taxpayer subsidies, or pay low wages.”
But Bracken Hendricks, a senior fellow at CAP, told that Bond’s conclusion that green jobs cost too much, pay too little, and come at the cost of other jobs, is wrong.
“The Center for American Progress has looked into this and we fundamentally disagree on all three of those points,” said Hendricks. “We directly compared investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency to traditional stimulus -- when you give people checks. Because it’s more local and intensive it creates more jobs. We also compared it to investing in oil. The green job solutions create more jobs. You are getting more jobs than if you are spending more energy and letting it leak out your windows.”
Meanwhile, President Obama continues to promote the creation of green jobs, or jobs that contribute to the improvement of environmental quality, as a key measure to revitalize the economy through federal spending.
“We can allow climate change to wreak unnatural havoc across the landscape, or we can create jobs working to prevent its worst effects,” said Obama during his “Earth Day” speech in Newton, Iowa on Wednesday. “It's estimated that if we fully pursue our potential for wind energy on land and offshore, wind can generate as much as 20 percent of our electricity by 2030 and create a quarter-million jobs in the process -- 250,000 jobs in the process, jobs that pay well and provide good benefits. It's a win-win: It's good for the environment; it's great for the economy.”
Bond’s report examined state and local government’s green jobs initiatives and found that, in some cases, “millions of dollars” were being spent to create only a few hundred new green jobs that often had sub par wages.
Bond said that while he was pleased to see jobs being created during a recession, he thinks there are better uses for taxpayers’ money.
“I agree,” said Bond, when a reporter asked him if he thought green jobs were better than no jobs. “That’s why I said in Newton, Iowa, they have got 700 jobs that pay $13 an hour …. But let’s put more people to work fabricating the facilities for a nuclear plant and running nuclear power. Let’s get people focused on developing those skills and industries.”
Bond also remarked that while “wind-powered jobs” sounds “neat,” he has “yet to see cars going down the road with propellers on them,” and said that he is concerned that Americans are becoming caught up in green job hype rather than the facts.
“I am worried about the impact of the green jobs push,” Bond told “I want everyone to know, as we work on formulating the policy, what they are talking about when they are promising new green jobs. How much are taxpayers going to have to pay in subsidies for each job?  How many millions of jobs are going to be killed?”
“Our children and grandchildren are going to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a green job that pays 13 dollars an hour [and] I think that’s a bad deal,” Bond told
But green spending is about more than just creating jobs, said Hendricks. “The point of making green stimulus is to invest in infrastructure and clean energy--- you are getting a whole host of things.”
Bond said that while he is not against the creation of green jobs, he wants to make sure the money is spent in the most effective way possible.
“Jobs that require the least subsidy and the ones that are most efficient are the ones we ought to pursue,” said Bond. “I am for all forms of clean energy. We particularly need to get moving on nuclear power.”
Bond also listed home insulation, commercial building insulation, and the development of clean coal technologies as legitimate means to energy-efficiency that could save taxpayers money.
“Let see what the most efficient, effective way of going about to clean up our atmosphere is,” said Bond. “I have suggested lots of things.”
Hendricks, however, speculated that Bond might oppose federal spending on green initiatives because he is “afraid of change.”
“A lot of the opponents of green jobs are really afraid of change,” said Hendricks. “They are concerned about public investment and new rules that are going to govern pollution and drive different incentives for energy investment.”
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