When it comes to putting Americans back to work, President Obama has two distinct alter egos. One acts to systematically dismantle one of the most productive sectors in the economy while the other speaks passionately in favor of job creation.
Despite the fact that the oil and gas industry supports more than 9 million domestic jobs and adds more than $1 trillion to the American economy each year, Mr. Obama continues to wage all-out war against the American energy industry now with the American Jobs Act. The president's jobs plan is to implement a $40 billion national energy tax on Americans.
In North Dakota, the Obama administration is actively seeking to obstruct new natural gas production using advances in the technology of hydraulic fracturing. This roadblock to new energy production is threatening one of the biggest job bonanzas in the state's history. In Louisiana, Mississippi and other Gulf states, a prolonged slowdown of offshore drilling permits has put an estimated 155,000 Americans out of work, according to an independent study by Louisiana State University finance professor Joseph Mason. Even in states far from the Gulf, suppliers are reeling from lost business. Many offshore drilling rigs and the good-paying jobs that go with them have relocated to other countries and will not return for years, if ever. In Alaska, the administration is stifling job creation by imposing new restrictions on existing public-lands permits despite the billions of dollars invested there already.
Massive new taxes on energy producers proposed by the administration pose a further threat to good-paying jobs. A new study by Mr. Mason concludes that the additional tax burden on the industry would trigger 155,000 fresh job losses at the cost of $68 billion in lost wages. A recent analysis by the energy research and consulting firm Wood Mackenzie concludes the higher taxes on the industry would cost about 170,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2014 while costing billions in lost revenue and slashing domestic production by 700,000 barrels per day.
While the president takes a wrecking ball to the job market, his alter ego talks of a nation that must focus on putting America back to work. The president points to the "green" jobs market as a feature of his government-induced job-creation program.
Previous government attempts to convert taxpayer dollars into the green-energy sector can only be described as colossal, wasteful failures. In 2010, for example, the Obama administration issued a $2.9 million federal grant to Ocala, Fla.'s, work-force-development organization to help promote studies in green technology. Three-quarters of its first 100 graduates could not find work despite the Obama administration's statements that green jobs would be the next "employment boom."
In the $825 billion stimulus bill, the administration channeled more than $90 billion into clean-energy technology. Nearly 80 percent of stimulus earmarks for wind turbines actually went to foreign manufacturers, according to a report by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at the American University's School of Communication. U.S. wind manufacturing managed to post job losses last year even with these generous federal giveaways.
With respect to solar, Mr. Obama's other pet industry, the track record is no better. The administration guaranteed a $535 million loan to the solar equipment manufacturer Solyndra in 2009. Last week, Solyndra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, leaving 1,100 workers in the unemployment line and taxpayers on the hook. Even though administration officials were alerted to the company's instability, they chose to stand by their frivolous investment on the taxpayers' dime. In Massachusetts, taxpayers likewise were burned when the state took a $58 million stake in "poster child for green jobs" Evergreen Solar, which folded in August.
Could we learn from other nations' mistakes? Apparently not, as around the world, the green-energy-jobs story has been much the same. In Spain, a study by economist Gabriel Calzada found that for every one green job created, 2.2 jobs in other industries would be lost. Spain likely has destroyed more jobs than it has created with its extensive subsidies for wind and solar. A Danish study finds that every job in wind energy costs $90,000 to $140,000 in subsidies, which is more than the jobs pay.
Rather than wasting money on phantom green-energy jobs, a far wiser course would be to remove the unfairly punitive shackles placed on America's present energy producers. It's long overdue for the president to match his rhetoric with policy actions that will put people back to work, not create more green-energy dreams that leave the taxpayer footing the bill. The production of oil and gas means jobs for Americans today and affordable energy for America tomorrow.
Thomas J. Pyle is president of the American Energy Alliance.
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