Senators John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, and Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Independent, spoke about their climate change bill on Tuesday afternoon touting what they believe to be the benefits of pricing carbon. Republicans jumped at Democrats with the often cited Rahm Emanuel quote of “never letting a crisis go to waste,” implying the majority is being disingenuous for suggesting that taxing carbon gasses will somehow prevent oil spills in the future. Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, called the Democrats’ tactic “inappropriate,” while Mr. Kerry branded his and Mr. Lieberman’s climate legislation as a “jobs” bill that would enhance national security.
Senator Kerry told reporters that “every study” shows that the subsidizing of alternative energy creates jobs, telling reporters on Tuesday, “We just told you that every study that has been made says that this creates hundreds of thousands of jobs a year,” he said. “Here we are in this month, and we just had 27,000 private sector jobs created. Do Americans want to say ‘no’ to anywhere from 250,000 to 540,000 jobs a year for the next ten, twenty years?”
However, according to a 2009 study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid, Spain the subsidizing of renewable energy was a complete disaster. In fact, the study said that for every new job depending on energy price supports, at least 2.2 jobs in other industries will disappear. Bloomberg reported:
”The premiums paid for solar, biomass, wave and wind power - - which are charged to consumers in their bills — translated into a $774,000 cost for each Spanish “green job” created since 2000, said Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at the university and author of the report.
‘The loss of jobs could be greater if you account for the amount of lost industry that moves out of the country due to higher energy prices,’ he said in an interview.”
I asked Senator Kerry about Spain’s own failed experience in the area of subsidizing alternative energy, and the Massachusetts Senator’s response sounded similar to someone saying Marxism or Stalinism never succeeded, because it was never implemented correctly. AUDIO
“If you look at other European countries, it depends entirely on exactly how committed they were and how far they were willing to go in terms of the breadth of the program,” he said.
“You have some anomalies in some countries where they began slowly. They didn’t have the right incentives, they over-subsidized a couple of different things— we’ve learned something from some of those mistakes, but I’m confident that the way we’re approaching this is really private sector determined. That’s the key here.” (All emphasis is mine.)
The Massachusetts Democrat cited Germany as an example where government subsidized green energy has been a success.
“The highly regarded automobile industry in Germany—Mercedes, Volkwagon, BMW, Audi has been eclipsed by alternative renewable energy sectors,” he said.
However, an October 2009 study (H/T Powerline) by the German think tank Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung titled: Economic impacts from the promotion of renewable energies: The German experience does not paint such a rosy picture of Germany’s experience with subsidizing green jobs:
“While employment projections in the renewable sector convey seemingly impressive prospects for gross job growth, they typically obscure the broader implications for economic welfare by omitting any accounting of off-setting impacts. These impacts include, but are not limited to, job losses from crowding out of cheaper forms of conventional energy generation, indirect impacts on upstream industries, additional job losses from the drain on economic activity precipitated by higher electricity prices, private consumers’ overall loss of purchasing power due to higher electricity prices, and diverting funds from other, possibly more beneficial investment.”
So much for “every study.” Unfortunately, the burdens consumers will faced due to tax-payer funded green jobs else where will not stop the Kerry-Lieberman energy bill from coming to the floor, but it still needs 60 votes to pass, and Senator Lindsey Graham, North Carolina Republican, is not as reliable for the Democrats on this bill as he once was. Pitching an energy tax and banning offshore oil drilling during the busiest driving season of the year in a weak economy is a tough pill to swallow for struggling Americans.
Senator Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Republican, made it clear that if the President tonight in his speech and Democrats on the hill continue to use the BP oil spill to push a Cap and Trade bill. “ On the Democratic side, this conversation is about how they will advance some kind of energy proposal. I understand the president will speak to that,” she said. “If we get into a debate about Cap and Trade over the summer, were going to be debating for quite a while.”