Same plot, same actors, but some new marketing techniques. This is not the first time President-elect Joe Biden has advanced an anti-energy agenda under the guise of climate change.
But the former vice president’s proposed “Plan to Build a Modern, Sustainable Infrastructure and Equitable Clean Energy Future” envisions “far-reaching investments” in green jobs that in many respects surpass the promises made when Biden was part of the Obama administration.
“We need millions of construction, skilled trades, and engineering workers to build a new American infrastructure and clean energy economy,” Biden says in his plan. “These jobs will create pathways for young people and for older workers shifting to new professions, and for people from all backgrounds and all communities.”
With the coming change in administration, and Biden now calling for a “$2 trillion accelerated investment” to achieve “climate progress,” it’s worth revisiting how the Obama-Biden team did in terms of generating green jobs in 2009.
On Feb. 17, 2009, less than one month into their first term, former President Barack Obama and Biden flew (not very green, is it?) to Colorado to sign their $787 billion stimulus package into law. They moved the signing venue from Washington, D.C., to Denver to emphasize the “green jobs” provisions of the legislation. Obama and Biden promised 5 million new green jobs.
How did they do?
The Obama-Biden Labor Department issued the first of four reports on the administration’s green jobs program on Sept. 30, 2011. There are several major findings that do not bode well for Biden’s reloaded promises in 2020.
The Labor Department figures show that job placement was at only 10% of the target level and that only 1,336 participants retained employment for at least six months, which is just 2% of the targeted employment retention of 69,717 participants.
In a follow-up report issued on Oct. 12, 2020, the Labor Department found that more than 20% of the certificates and degrees went to recipients who had just one day of training and about half of those who completed the program received five or fewer days of training. The follow-up report also found that between 24% and 44% of the employment outcomes could not be documented and that the number of trainees who entered employment was less than 40% of the target.
The other two reports came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
One came in March 2012, and another came in June 2012, providing further evidence that green jobs had not materialized in any meaningful way. The largest green jobs category was “janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners,” according to the bureau.
“Biden is promising to repeat the Obama-Biden legacy of failed green jobs, but this time, he intends to spend more taxpayer money on what will be another failed enterprise,” said Tom Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., that favors free market policies in the energy sector. “Biden plans to spend $2 trillion that could be better used to assist the economy in its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown. He’s also proposing to pull fossil fuels out of the U.S. economy, where they supply 80% of the energy supply, which would be hugely disruptive to the jobs of millions who owe their livelihoods to the U.S.-produced energy.”
Digging further into the numbers that were reported by Biden’s administrative agencies, it becomes clear that the concept of green jobs amounts to little more than a taxpayer-funded farce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also found that the septic tank and portable toilet servicing industry had 33 times as many “green” jobs as did solar electricity utilities. It also found that there were more green jobs selling used merchandise in thrift stores than in engineering services.
The only difference between now and 2009 is that Biden is proposing to spend even more taxpayer money on green schemes that already are a documented failure.
Biden has also pledged to create a new Environmental and Climate Justice Division within the Department of Justice. But will he deliver justice to average people who depend on affordable sources of energy for their livelihoods?
Kevin Mooney (@KevinMooneyDC) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is an investigative reporter in Washington, D.C., who writes for several national publications.