Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thinking green jobs? Think again! Training is shown to have little impact on GETTING a job.

The Evidence Is In: Green Jobs Are a Total Waste 
By Diana Furchtgott-Roth
October 30, 2012
In case anyone has any doubt, the evidence is in. Green jobs training programs are a waste of taxpayer money. So says the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Labor in a report on the $500 million program, published on Thursday.

Assistant Inspector General Elliot Lewis wrote that of the $500 million authorized in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the stimulus bill) for green jobs training programs, $329 million was spent by June 30, 2012. Of the 113,000 people who participated in the green jobs training programs, 72 percent have completed training; 27 percent of participants got a job; 22 percent of participants got a job relating to their training; and 10 percent kept their jobs for at least six months.

That's a cost of about $28,000 for each job retained for six months or more.

The report was requested by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa. It follows a prior report published on September 30, 2011, and reaches similar conclusions.

Workforce training programs have generally been costly, without fulfilling their goals. From the 1970s Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, to the 1980s Job Training Partnership Act, to the multitude of programs today, federal job training programs have disappointed their proponents.

However, green jobs training programs fare even worse than other Labor Department programs. Let's look at the "entered employment rate," defined as the percentage who start a job after completing the training program. This measure, by the way, excludes those who drop out of the training programs before completion. For the green jobs programs, 32,000 dropped out without finishing, a waste of their time and taxpayer funds.

For green job training programs, 38 percent of those who completed training entered employment as of June 2012. For the quarter ending March 2012, a slightly different time period, 56 percent of Workforce Investment Act Adult Program trainees entered employment, as did 71 percent of the Registered Apprenticeship program trainees.

Then, consider the "employment retention rate," which is the percent of trained employees who kept their jobs for at least six months. For workers from green jobs training programs, it's 38 percent, compared with 81 percent from Workforce Investment Act Adult program and 86 percent for the Registered Apprenticeship program.

In fact, the green jobs training programs have the lowest entered employment rates and employment retention rates of all Labor Department training programs.

But the results of the program are even worse than these numbers suggest.

First, of those workers who completed the training and entered employment, 38 percent already had jobs, and got a new job with the same employer or another one. Unlike other Labor Department training programs, employed workers are permitted to enroll.

Second, of all those who completed training, almost half went through programs of five days or less. That's substantially less than other Labor Department training programs.

Third, of all the green-trained workers who got jobs, the largest group, 36 percent, was in the category of "energy efficient building, construction, and retrofitting." That means jobs such as insulation and weather stripping, not substantially different from other construction jobs. The next largest group, 34 percent, was employed in "an industry not specified as green."

Relatively few green trained workers got jobs in renewable electric power (5 percent), the manufacture of sustainable products (4 percent), energy efficiency assessment (3 percent), energy efficient vehicles (3 percent), deconstruction and materials use (2 percent), or biofuels (1 percent).

One surprise was that 84 percent of the participants in green job training programs were male. This is a large proportion, especially since women get 58 percent of all BA degrees, 63 percent of all MA degrees, and over half of all PhDs awarded. But perhaps women are too smart to enroll in a program with record low employment retention rates.

It's clear that by the Labor Department's original criteria the program did not meet its original goals. The number of people who retained employment 6 months or more, 11,613, represents 16 percent of the Department's target of 71,017 jobs retained.

The Labor Department's Assistant Inspector General study reveals a deeply troubled government program The next time a government official touts green jobs, remember: this is a program that does not work.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Voting in this General Election will expand the winners in energy— taxpayers and job seekers

Or alternately, it will expand the losers- choose wisely!

Winners and losers energy policies
We can and must rejuvenate our economy by developing America’s resource bounties
Paul Driessen
Governor Mitt Romney strongly supports North American energy independence as the foundation of renewed US employment and prosperity. President Obama is waging war on fossil fuels, job creation, and efforts to end our economic recession and reduce dependence on Middle Eastern and Russian oil.
Romney’s emphasis on careful analysis and due diligence brought him and Bain Capital notable winners like AMC Entertainment, Burger King, Burlington Coat Factory, Domino’s Pizza, Dunkin’ Donuts and Staples. Obama’s focus on ideology, political calculation, cronyism and campaign contributors produced scandalous losers like A123, Abound Solar, Crescent Dunes, Ener1, Fisker, Mountain Plaza, Solyndra, Tesla, and a host of wind and biofuel projects that would collapse if their taxpayer subsidies were cut off.
Not surprisingly, US gasoline prices are double what they were the day Obama took office. Some 25 million Americans are without full-time jobs – leaving 23% of the workforce unemployed, involuntarily working part-time or at jobs where they are overqualified, making far less money than they did previously, or no longer looking for a job. Our 64% “labor participation rate” is at a 30-year low.
There are still 4.5 million fewer jobs than in 2007, even though our population has grown; the hourly wage of college-educated Americans age 23 to 29 fell 4.7% between 2007 and 2011; median household income plummeted $3,040 since the recession (supposedly, officially) ended in June 2009; and a record 45 million Americans are on food stamps.
Meanwhile, the ever-unstable Middle East is even more unstable. Terrorists murdered our ambassador to Libya. A pitiful anti-Islamist video excused riots in Egypt, where a Muslim Brotherhood leader is now president. More than 33,000 have died in a nasty Syrian civil war. Internecine conflicts continue in Iraq and elsewhere. The seemingly perpetual Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains poised to intensify. the Taliban and Al Qaeda continue to build power and launch vicious attacks, such as gunning down the US embassy’s Yemeni security chief in Sana’a. And we are importing oil from brutal human rights violators.
Outside the Middle East, the Putin government is using energy to pressure and blackmail European nations dependent on Russian oil and gas, while orchestrating anti-fracking campaigns to keep EU countries from tapping their abundant shale gas supplies. Politics, events and human rights violations raise further questions about Russia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Nigeria and Sudan. And many of these countries are among our most important oil suppliers – because we refuse to develop our own deposits.
Since oil is sold in a world market, producing more in the United States means we could import less from abroad, free up more oil for other nations, and push prices down. Exporting US natural gas and drilling, fracking and production expertise would make other nations less dependent on the Middle East and Russia, bring natural gas prices down further, turbo-charge economies, and encourage African countries to use gas to generate electricity, rather than “flaring” it as an unwanted byproduct of oil production.
Romney understands this. He is calling for more oil and natural gas production here in the United States, changes to excessive and counterproductive federal regulations that raise energy costs and kill jobs, and increased use of friendly Canadian oil to serve America’s consumers. He knows this will protect us against disruptions in Middle East oil supplies, reduce the flow of American dollars to totalitarian human rights violators, create American jobs, increase tax revenues, and jumpstart our sluggish economy.
President Obama, by contrast, continues to ignore reality and embrace policies based on hope, green dreams, and a determination to “fundamentally transform” America’s Constitution, economy, society and business system. He continues to waste billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize unreliable, unsustainable, inefficient, insufficient energy forms that are at best decades from competing in the free market – even as 80% of Department of Energy grants and loans went to companies owned or controlled by Obama contributors; DOE restructured its $465 million loan to Tesla, to make sure the electric-car company doesn’t run out of cash right before the election; and President Obama says malnourished, energy-deprived Africans should avoid fossil fuels and rely instead on wind, solar and biofuel power.
Many recipients of involuntary taxpayer largesse are donors to Obama and Democrat re-election campaigns; have electoral clout in crucial swing states, where corn growers and others benefit from ethanol, wind and solar schemes; or provide crucial propaganda and campaign services via government employee and labor unions and tax-exempt radical environmentalist organizations.
While Obama turns his back on the reliable fossil fuels that power America’s economic engine, he denounces and demonizes companies that produce this hydrocarbon energy, pay billions of dollars in taxes and support millions of American jobs. He singles out America’s oil and natural gas sector for discriminatory tax increases and excessive regulations, and makes more and more federal lands, waters and resources off limits to responsible exploration and development.
Environmental activists and the Obama Administration express outrage about subsidies for traditional, efficient means of generating electricity, which amount to $0.25-$0.44 (25-44 cents) per megawatt-hour for coal and natural gas and $1.59 per MWH for nuclear. But they are eerily silent about enormous subsidies for wind ($23.37 per MWH) and solar electricity ($24.34 per MWH).
They express equal outrage about importing petroleum from Canada’s oil sands via the Keystone Pipeline – but are silent about imports of thick, gooey crude from Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. They brag about increased US oil and gas production on private lands, but insist that there be little or no drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Rocky Mountains or even National Petroleum Reserve Alaska, which Congress set aside decades ago specifically to safeguard our national security by increasing exploration in areas with the best potential for oil and gas.
Lisa Jackson’s Environmental Protection Agency is imposing draconian restrictions on power plants and other CO2 sources, as another way of “skinning the cat” and hyper-regulating coal out of the US energy picture, after Congress rejected cap-tax-and-trade legislation. Meantime, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) has introduced the Managed Carbon Price Act, which analysts say will impose regressive taxes that will rise to $5.20 per gallon of gasoline by 2024 and equally hefty surcharges on other hydrocarbon use.
The impact on transportation, shipping, commuting, manufacturing, jobs and families is frightening to contemplate. So is the fact that these actions are coming even as Britain’s Meteorological Office released data showing that the world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago – and that average global temperatures rose an impossible-to-measure and statistically insignificant 0.03 degrees C per decade.
Meanwhile, Germany, Italy and Japan plan to phase out nuclear power, thereby increasing their use of natural gas and coal for electricity – while China and India plan to build 900 new coal-fired power plants to electrify their growing economies. All will pump millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – dwarfing any reductions the USA might achieve by closing more power plants and further shackling our economy. 
The Administration’s actions have been arrogant, irresponsible and autocratic. Win or lose in November, the White House, EPA, DOE and Interior Department will impose boxcars of punitive new regulations that have been put on hold until November 7.
We can dig ourselves out of this hole. We can and must rejuvenate and reinvigorate our economy, by developing America’s resource bounties.
We don’t need to “fundamentally transform” America’s economy, society and free enterprise system. We need to fundamentally transform the anti-hydrocarbon culture that pervades the Congress, White House, Executive Branch and radical environmental groups that have brought us to where we are today.
Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Congress of Racial Equality, and author or Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death. 10/15/12

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Don't be surprised that Biden "forgot" some details in the debate with Paul Ryan

Biden Fibbed: Green Cronyism Is Alive and Well
By Diana Furchtgott-Roth
October 16, 2012
How soon he forgets. In Thursday's vice presidential debate, Joe Biden denied any "cronyism" in the award of Energy Department grants and loan guarantees to encourage the development of renewable energy. Plus, he asserted that government-assisted green energy projects had a better "batting average" than do projects backed by investment bankers.

Just one problem: Neither of Biden's assertions was true. Plus, the Vice President himself had a role in the cronyism.

Emails that rebut Biden's assertions were made available to me last week.

The email traffic was between BrightSource Energy, which sought and received $1.6 billion of government guarantees, its subcontractor, and its lobbying firm. The emails specifically refer to the Vice President's involvement in the $1.6 billion Energy Department loan guarantee to BrightSource for its proposed Ivanpah solar power project in the Mojave Desert in Southern California.

Some may dispute that the Vice President's support, itself, was a manifestation of cronyism. Whatever Biden's motive for supporting the application, the Vice President's role sheds light on a larger issue, one of principle, which separates President Obama and Mitt Romney. It is the question of "industrial policy," whether government should support business ventures in new technologies that are unable to secure private financing.

Another disapproving term for industrial policy is "picking winners." Government appears to be worse at this than are private markets.

In addition to putting taxpayer money at risk, industrial policy also undesirable because it creates opportunities for political influence on what should be decisions on the merits.

Vice President Biden's involvement in BrightSource Energy was not an isolated incident. There was Solyndra, a solar panel company that received $528 million in government loan guarantees before declaring bankruptcy in September 2011. The Republican-controlled House Energy and Commerce Committee has published emails that specifically refer to Biden and his staff as advocating for Solyndra.

Such advocacy illustrates a pernicious aspect of industrial policy. Winning government support appears to be determined, or influenced, by whom you know, rather than the merits of the proposal.

On Thursday night, Biden said to Representative Paul Ryan, referring to Energy Department green energy grants and loan guarantees, "And all this talk about cronyism. They investigated and investigated, did not find one single piece of evidence. I wish he would just tell -- be a little more candid."

Yet an email from BrightSource Energy's subcontractor, Bechtel Systems and Infrastructure, dated December 2, 2009, said that Biden met weekly with Energy Secretary Steven Chu to discuss Energy Department loan guarantees, to wit: "apparently VP Biden meets with Secretary Chu and [Matt] Rogers (in charge of loan program) on a weekly basis to push progress on all DOE loan guarantees...BrightSource would like to see if we can help get VP Biden to focus on the tasks that DOE needs to accomplish and have him help drive DOE..."

Bernard Toon, Biden's former chief of staff when he was a senator, was a principal vice president and manager for Bechtel. In an email to BrightSource CEO John Woolard dated December 3, 2009, Toon wrote, "Calls are in to Biden's staff and I will be approaching the political affairs office at the White House tomorrow as well, as this project could benefit two [Democratic] Senators who are in cycle and whose races will be tough next year-[Barbara] Boxer [CA] and the Majority Leader, Sen. Reid [NV]." Both won reelection in 2010.

A month before the loan guarantee was approved, on March 8, 2011, Arthur Haubenstock of BrightSource wrote to Woolard, "We have a lot of force gearing up to leverage them now, including the WH and VP office, [New Mexico Senator Jeff] Bingaman, [Nevada Senator Harry] Reid and [California Senator Dianne] Feinstein, and Gov. Brown."

Vice President Biden was also instrumental in the hurried approval of the Solyndra project in September 2009. In fact, Solyndra was rushed through precisely because Biden wanted to appear at an opening ceremony at the plant on September 4. On August 31, Elizabeth Oxhorn, a communications aide to the Vice President, asked Aditya Kumar, director of special projects for White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, to speed up the OMB decision so that the VP's office could announce his attendance after OMB approval rather than before.

Kevin Carroll, chief of the OMB energy branch, replied on the same day, "I would prefer that this announcement be postponed...this is the first loan guarantee and we should have a full review with all hands on deck to make sure we get it right."

Biden said on Thursday night, referring to green jobs, "It was a good idea, Moody's and others said that this was exactly what we needed to [stop the economy's decline.] It set the conditions to be able to grow again. We have, in fact, 4 percent of those green jobs didn't go under -- went under, didn't work. It's a better batting average than investment bankers have."

Biden appears to be saying that 4 percent of Energy Department-supported projects were unsuccessful, compared with a higher failure rate for private investors.

This is false. Government-supported energy companies have had a notoriously unsuccessful track record. Of the 33 energy loan guarantees made since 2009 under the Energy Department's programs, I calculate that 30, or over 90 percent, have shown signs of trouble. "Trouble" ranges from missed production goals to bankruptcy filings.

Take Compact Power, a subsidiary of LG Chem, which received a $150 million Recovery Act grant. Reports have recently surfaced that the Holland, Michigan battery company has placed its roughly 200 workers on rolling furloughs, where employees work three-quarters of their normal schedule, due to insufficient demand for batteries for electric cars.

A report by the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee published in March stated that 23 loans were judged by ratings agencies as "junk" because of their low credit quality. An additional four were rated BBB, a low investment trade. This is not surprising, given that borrowers with top-drawer credit ratings do not need government guarantees.

All this matters because President Obama has promised to continue government support of alternative energy projects if he is elected to a second term. Mitt Romney would end this support. American voters have a clear choice: do they want taxpayer support of renewable energy projects, and possibly attendant cronyism, to continue?

On this as on other matters, the Obama-Romney contest offers the voters an opportunity to choose.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Do you like your home the way it is?

If Obama's administration gets its druthers about renewable energy, you will have to rebuild or retrofit.

Demolish all the buildings, then put them back green

By Ron Arnold

What did Wednesday's first presidential debate tell us about the energy policy of President Obama versus former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney?

Obama said, "I think it's important for us to develop new sources of energy here in America." He argued that he was doing so, based on increased oil and gas production.

Romney's reply: "Yeah, but not due to his policies. In spite of his policies."

I've written in previous columns how Obama has staked his presidency on the land-gobbling wind-and-solar bundle of renewable money sponges, in stark contrast to the "all-out, all-of-the-above" rhetoric that still echoes from his State of the Union speech early this year. Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso and New Mexico Rep. Stevan Pearce, both Republicans, put it even more bluntly in their 24-page joint report from the two chambers' Western Caucuses. Its title: "Beyond Belief: The Obama Administration's All Out, None-of-the-Above Energy Strategy."

The short version: Obama's energy policy is "say one thing, do another." Obama campaigners look for votes in a coal state and praise coal. Obamacrats in the Environmental Protection Agency make rules that eliminate coal in the name of climate change to get green votes and money.

During Obama's term, his allies in Big Green coalitions have crushed fossil fuels, nuclear power and hydroelectric dams in the courts. Obama appointees have failed to rein in these groups -- even though they seem to think they have the power to do so.

For example, when Obama nominated Gina McCarthy to lead the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation in 2009, Barrasso opposed her confirmation, fearing that "special interest groups are scheming to sue the EPA to prosecute hospitals, farms, nursing homes, commercial buildings and any other small emitter of greenhouse gases," with devastating consequences.

McCarthy assured Barrasso that only large emitters would be regulated, but did not rule out the possibility that lawsuits might force the EPA to regulate smaller sources. If that happened, "I will follow up with the potential litigants." Incredibly, McCarthy was suggesting she could stop Big Green from filing lawsuits.

McCarthy was subsequently confirmed and has zealously enforced Obama's "none of the above" energy agenda, with no apparent efforts to stop green lawsuits.

Obama routinely overstates the importance of renewable energies, such as solar and wind power, making them the centerpiece of America's electricity mix. His own Energy Information Administration tells a different story. It projects that electricity generation from all renewable sources (including hydropower dams) will fill only 15 percent of the total need for electricity in the U.S. by 2035.

Where's the other 85 percent coming from? Nowhere, if you believe a new analysis from the U.S. Energy Department's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "California's Energy Future: Portraits of Energy Systems for Meeting Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets" says that meeting the California Global Warming Solutions Act mandate -- emissions must drop 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 -- is "possible, but difficult."

The devilish detail is on Page 5: Just getting to 60 percent with technologies available today would take ridiculous measures: "We found that all buildings would either have to be demolished, retrofitted or built new to very high efficiency standards, that vehicles of all sorts would need to be made significantly more efficient, and that industrial processes would need to advance beyond technology available today."

The EIA predicts a more likely future: Eighty-five percent of American energy in 2035 will come from natural gas, coal, oil, nuclear, and hydroelectric dams. If Big Green and the executive branch keep killing off the wellsprings of those American energies, the survivors will be left freezing in the dark.

Examiner Columnist Ron Arnold is executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.