The Obama administration isn’t quite sure what a “green job” is, but it sure wants more of them! From the Washington Examiner’s Byron York:
Buried deep inside a federal newsletter on March 16 was something called a “notice of solicitation of comments” from the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the Department of Labor.
“BLS is responsible for developing and implementing the collection of new data on green jobs,” said the note in the Federal Register, which is widely read by government bureaucrats and almost never seen by the general public. But the notice said there is “no widely accepted standard definition of ‘green jobs.’” To help find that definition, the Labor Department asked that readers send in suggestions.
The notice came only after the department scoured studies from government, academia, and business in search of a definition. “The common thread through the studies and discussions is that green jobs are jobs related to preserving or restoring the environment,” the notice said. Duh! Beyond that, a precise definition has eluded Labor Department officials.
On Capitol Hill, a staffer for Sen. Charles Grassley, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, was poring through the Federal Register and spotted the note. Then he went to the Department of Labor Web site, where he found a number of announcements like these:
** U.S. Department of Labor Announces $100 Million in Green Jobs Training through Recovery Act
** U.S. Department of Labor Announces $150 Million in “Pathways Out of Poverty” Training Grants for Green Jobs
** U.S. Department of Labor Announces Nearly $190 Million in State Energy Sector Partnership and Training Grants for Green Jobs
In the staffer’s mind, two and two came together. The Labor Department is shoving money out the door for “green jobs,” yet at the same time is admitting it doesn’t know what a “green job” is.
All told, according to a June 2 letter Grassley wrote to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, the stimulus package included $80 billion to promote “clean energy” and “green jobs.”
“In light of the fact that the DOL [Department of Labor] is determining what constituted a ‘green job’ only after the expenditure of Recovery Act dollars,” Grassley wrote, “I would like to understand what criteria the DOL used to give out millions in taxpayer dollars prior to the definition being established.”
It’s not as if this “green jobs” thing just came up. Google “Obama green jobs” and you’ll get 32.5 million results dating back at least to his 2008 campaign.
And it’s not as if the definition is perfectly obvious. Is a “green job” anything that moves us away from using fossil fuels? Well, what about the evidence that ethanol is “environmentally disastrous” when made from corn and “less green than oil-derived gasoline” even if made from switchgrass, as a 2008 Time article titled “The Clean Energy Scam” put it? (Let’s note here that Grassley, who hails from Iowa and its corn fields, has an interest in which jobs are and aren’t deemed “green.”) Environmental activists differ over whether carbon-free nuclear energy is green. Scandals involving “carbon offset” projects are well-documented.
And the government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers in this way in the first place.
Yet, hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars have already been spent on “green jobs” by the very department that isn’t sure what exactly they are. And this has happened in spite of the fact that “green jobs” have proved to be nothing more than a bubble in Spain, the very country President Obama has touted as an example for America.