Study says green jobs are overhyped

- A new academic study disputes the promises of a new green-economy job boom.

The study, funded by the Institute for Energy Research, a free-market, pro-business research group, arrived on the same day that the new White House “green jobs guru,” Van Jones, begins his job. It argues that analyses from a variety of organizations — including the United Nations Environment Program, the Center for American Progress, the United States Conference of Mayors and the American Solar Energy Society — all over-hyped the potential to create good jobs from industries like wind and solar power.

The Center for American Progress, for example, has described a “green recovery” program that would create two million jobs — many in manufacturing and construction — over two years with $100 billion in investment.

But the authors of the new study argue that these types of assertions often overlook job losses — particularly those arising from the closure of polluting industries, like coal-fired power plants.

“We’re replacing other forms of energy generation,” said Andrew Morriss, a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law and one of four academics who wrote the study, in a conference call with journalists. “You have to do a net calculation on these things.”

“There’s this air of high science about it,” added Roger Meiners, a professor of economics and law at the University of Texas-Arlington, referring to the level of specificity often used in green job predictions. But Mr. Meiners argued that a serious reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would result in a “massive restructuring” of economies in the United States and around the globe.

Bracken Hendricks, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, argued that his group’s study only set out to look at the effects of stimulus money in renewable energy and energy efficiency, rather than the overall effects of cap-and-trade limitations on carbon-dioxide emissions.

However, he said, renewables are better for job creation than fossil fuel industries. “We found that you get four times the number of jobs from investing in efficiency and renewables than you get from investing in oil and natural gas,” said Mr. Hendricks — largely because renewable technologies “are more local and they’re more labor-intensive.”



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