You are currently viewing the printable version of this article, to return to the normal page, please click here.

MURDOCK: Green jobs are a national scandal

Money wasted on pricey occupations could have helped the needy

- The Washington Times - Friday, October 7, 2011

Solargate is just the tip of the iceberg. This cliche within a mixed metaphor reflects the madness of President Obama's obsession with "green jobs." It would be bad enough if this disaster were limited to possible criminality at Solyndra, the California-based solar-panel maker that Mr. Obama stimulated with loan guarantees despite repeated internal warnings. Solyndra's Aug. 31 bankruptcy transformed 1,100 green jobs into pink slips and marinated taxpayers in $527 million of red ink.

But many green-jobs programs that have not been raided by the FBI - as befell Solyndra on Sept. 8 - nonetheless are fiscally reckless enough to merit a five-alarm national scandal.

Consider:

c Hopewell Junction, N.Y.'s SpectraWatt Inc. scored $500,000 from the Energy Department in June 2009 and $150,000 from the National Science Foundation in June 2010. On Aug. 19, the solar-power company went bust.

c Evergreen Solar was stimulated with $5.3 million of Massachusetts government cash and praised by the White House for helping "kick-start the economy." Evergreen went bankrupt on Aug. 15.

c Mountain Plaza Inc. went bankrupt in 2003. Nonetheless, its "truck-stop electrification" technology won $424,000 in EPA stimulus funds administered by Tennessee's Transportation Department. Yet again, Mountain Plaza filed for bankruptcy in June 2010.

c Notwithstanding its February 2009 bankruptcy and default on a $58 million loan from BNP Paribas, Wisconsin-based, ethanol-oriented Olsen's Mill Acquisition Co. was stimulated with $10 million in January 2010, along with Olsen's Crop Service. ADM purchased the defunct operation's assets last month.

Team Obama also has subsidized projects that may be neither fraudulent nor failed, per se, but severely abuse taxpayers.

c As the Wall Street Journal reports, cash-strapped Americans are changing babies' diapers less frequently and doubling down on diaper-rash ointment. What a perfect time for Team Obama to subsidize foreign solar companies.

The Energy Department on June 18 gave Solar Trust, an American subsidiary of Germany's Solar Millennium, a $2.1 billion loan guarantee for a Blythe, Calif., solar-power facility. Also in June, Energy handed Spain's Abengoa Solar a $1.2 billion guarantee for its Mojave Solar Project in California, and in December 2010 it backstopped $1.45 billion for Abengoa's Gila Bend, Ariz., outpost.

c On Sept. 28, Energy approved a $737 million loan guarantee for Nevada's SolarReserve Project. It promises 600 construction jobs at $1.23 million each and 45 permanent jobs at $16.4 million per position. Energy also guaranteed $337 million for Sempra Energy's Mesquite Solar Project in Arizona. Its 300 construction jobs cost $1.12 million each, while its seven permanent positions equal $48.1 million per job created.

c In Seattle, an Energy grant provided $20 million to weatherize homes. Sixteen months later, this outlay has generated 14 administrative jobs at $1.42 million apiece. How many homes have been retrofitted? Three.

While Mr. Obama "invests" up to $48.1 million per job, private employers hire the average employee for $58,510 annually, the Labor Department calculates.

When will liberals join conservatives in denouncing this green-jobs fantasy? While most free-marketeers would convert these funds to tax relief or debt reduction, only blind liberals cannot see that this extravagance impoverishes their favorite causes.

Every dollar that chases a money-losing windmill is a dollar that cannot fund Head Start.

Every million that spawns only one job is a million that cannot finance 270 average Pell Grants for needy college students.

And every billion that vanishes into green bankruptcy is a billion that cannot help impoverished Americans heat their homes with government assistance.

It would be refreshing to see liberals fight as hard for poor people as for solar panels.

Undeterred, the president chases the sun like a motorist speeding west across the desert as dusk approaches. He swears that the sun is within his grasp. Yet it stubbornly remains just beyond the horizon.

Too bad Mr. Obama won't finance his self-defeating solar road trip with his own money.

Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with Stanford's Hoover Institution.

© Copyright 2015 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.