Green jobs: Billions for something we’ll define later

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.

(H/t: Instapundit)

53 comments Add your comment

Junior Samples

June 11th, 2010
12:10 pm

So we should just give up. No sense in trying anything that may conserve energy or natural resources. Everything we’re doing now is just fine, right?

Well, I’m off to go fishing in the Gulf. Minnie Pearl’s got a place down in Grand Isle.

Gelett Burgess

June 11th, 2010
12:16 pm

I don’t know anything about green jobs, but I know what I like.

Mr. Holmes

June 11th, 2010
12:19 pm

I agree. There should be a clear, concise, unequivocal definition of “green jobs” because we do not want to spend billions on an ambiguous concept like Spreading Freedom, Taking the Fight to Them, Promoting an Ownership Society, fighting a War on (insert amorphous concept here, e.g., Terror, Drugs, etc.).

joan1

June 11th, 2010
12:26 pm

I think this administration is hell bent on moving money it and the taxpayers don’t have out the door. Maybe it is just trying to make us all equal in poverty. It certainly isn’t generating any wealth creation. The motto in DC is keep on spending until no one will loan us money any more and then we will increase taxes for those people who are already supporting over half the country with their tax payments, and break their backs. Then when everyone is miserable, we politicians can then be truly happy.

joan1

June 11th, 2010
12:28 pm

In a capitalist society, economics dictate that if something is wanted and someone will pay for it, then there will be a product or job created to produce it. If all those people who want “green things’, (whatever they are) are willing to pay for those to be produced, then fine, but there is no real evidence of that. How many liberals do you know who use paper towels instead of cloth, drive to work rather than take mass transit, have stopped buying bottled water, using plastic? Not many, if any.

Gerald West

June 11th, 2010
12:33 pm

A person has a “green” job if he is constructively engaged in a project that either saves energy or promotes energy derived from renewable resources. Defining a “green” job is like defining a “good” job: you know one when you see it.

Spain’s current economic crisis is just like Florida’s: too many houses and too few buyers. It has nothing to do with Spain’s “green” projects, which are good for all times in all economic conditions.

We should emulate France. The French have no appreciable gas or petroleum resources and no off-shore drilling for oil yet derive less than 15% of their energy needs from imported oil. Their primary energy souces are nuclear and hydro.

Junior Samples

June 11th, 2010
12:35 pm

Joan,
I use cloth napkins.
I ride MARTA.
I use a cup or travel mug for coffee, drinks, etc…

Now you know of at least one.
Join Us. It’s not hard. And it conserves money.

Conserve.
The root of Conservative.
Think about it.

scrappy

June 11th, 2010
12:50 pm

The definition of “green” has been a problem for at least a decade. Part of the problem is that it is now used to define everything environmental, sort of like how Xerox lost its trade name to overuse.

Think if the classic debate of grocery shopping – paper or plastic? Green thinkers will mostly say paper – but the amount of trees, water, energy& waste that goes into making & delivering the paper bag outweighs that of plastic. Plastic doesn’t breakdown in landfills, but is reusable, recyclable, is easier to make, easier & lighter to transport on trucks.

So, paper or plastic? Depends on the standards of the person making the judgment.

CrazyInGA

June 11th, 2010
12:51 pm

How many things have been defined in the past; yet has progressed into something much more than was considered when it was first initiated?

You don’t need a complete or partial definition to begin the process. Who would have thought I would be carrying around a cell phone or my computer 50 years ago? Heck look at how many ways the radio has changed in the last 50 years, I now have something called an ipod I can fit in the palm of my hand. :)

I use to complain about writing letters and buying a stamp; now I can send an email around the world in a few minutes. I guess we should have defined email and called it the “D-Mail”; meaning I must define before I begin.

BULLSEYE

June 11th, 2010
12:54 pm

Joan- I ride a motorbike. Volunteer for Trees Atlanta and try to use a little plastic as possible. I’ll gladly pay to help our environment. Now you know two.

CJ

June 11th, 2010
12:56 pm

And the government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers in this way in the first place.

This is exactly what the government should be doing and has been doing since the beginning. The government picks winners and losers when it allows deductions for home closing costs and mortgage interest payments, children, health care expenses, contributions to charity, education, and the like.

The government also picks winners and losers when it imposes lower tax rates on unearned income then on earned income. The government picks winners and losers when it favors large tax cuts for the wealthy over balanced budgets. The government picks winners and losers when they give provide huge agricultural subsidies (welfare for millionaires) over other priorities (like jobs or balancing the budget). The government picks winners and losers at the state level when they provide targeted tax incentives to attract businesses (often at the expense of taxpayers living in said state).

This “government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers” assertion, often repeated on talk radio, only applies to Democratic priorities, but never to Republican priorities (e.g., millions for cronies).

With regard to spending on green jobs, whatever that means, in our unstable economy with nearly 10 percent unemployment, I want our government to pay people to dig holes in the ground and fill them back up again if necessary. There are undoubtedly details to be worked out regarding the definition of green jobs, but for now, who cares?

scrappy

June 11th, 2010
1:00 pm

CJ – I agree & that was what I was trying to get across. Any and every job can somehow be considered green in some way, so if they are trying to create green jobs, it really just means they are creating any type of job. More the merrier!

booger

June 11th, 2010
1:08 pm

CJ,

When $80 billion is thrown out the window for nothing, most people care. Most would think you spend money after the “details are worked out. For what jobs do you think the hundred’s of millions spent on green job training were people trained. This was simply a redistribution trick like everything else this admin. has done.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

June 11th, 2010
1:16 pm

This is not rocket science – follow the money trail. Nothing here but government-subsidized employment for people who could never compete in an honest market.

Rev. Al Sharptongue

June 11th, 2010
1:27 pm

I will be glad when ACORN gets me a job on a death panel in a heavily conservative district.

booger

June 11th, 2010
1:55 pm

Rev. Al,

Always waiting for someone to get you a job. Sad.

Scrotie McBoogerballs.

June 11th, 2010
2:51 pm

Well, looks like some black teachers cheated on test scores.

Under Pressure, Teachers Tamper With Tests

The staff of Normandy Crossing Elementary School outside Houston eagerly awaited the results of state achievement tests this spring. For the principal and assistant principal, high scores could buoy their careers at a time when success is increasingly measured by such tests. For fifth-grade math and science teachers, the rewards were more tangible: a bonus of $2,850.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/11/education/11cheat.html

Road Scholar

June 11th, 2010
2:52 pm

Is picking up tar balls and sucking up the oil in the Gulf “green jobs”?Seems better than the greedy, high paying jobs of the polluters, and under regulated morons who created the mess in the first place.

Scrotie McBoogerballs.

June 11th, 2010
2:53 pm

“I will be glad when ACORN gets me a job on a death panel in a heavily conservative district.”

Nothing like a sad sack of horse $hit like Al to come along and openly talk about wanting to kill people.

Gentilly

June 11th, 2010
2:53 pm

The corrupt hypocracy of the politician “environmentalists” is shown by the fact that the one of the first things that the “green: Clinton-Gore Administration did, in April 1993 was to undermine and destroy an important federal environmental and historic preservation law,section 4(f) of the Transportation Act of 1966 for the benefit of the US Department of Transportation(which the act was supposed to control) and the viciously corrupt city hall gang of New Orleans Mayor “Slimy Sidney “Barthelemy.See court case “Weber V. Pena,1993″ case #93-0712 US District Court for District of Columbia.The immediate result was the destruction of an historic landmark of the city, the old Canal streetcar barn, listed on the National Register of Historic Places as probably the oldest surviving carbarn in the country.Barthelemy also paved the way for the destruction of the city in 2005 by PURGING the veteran engineers of the Sewage & Water Board who objected to the Corps of Engineers floodwall plans.
Another “green” thing Big Brother is doing is encouraging the City of New Orleans to destroy perfectly repairable public buildings damaged by BARTHELEMY’S FLOOD(aka”Katrina”),since building unnecessary new buildings provides more GRAFT than repairing old structures.

Scrotie McBoogerballs.

June 11th, 2010
2:54 pm

Oh, Obama’s poll numbers just hit 42%.

When Obama fails, America wins.

Gator Joe

June 11th, 2010
3:05 pm

Kyle,
What kind of jobs were Halliburton and Blackwater doing for millions, on contracts they did not have to bid on? If you and your friends on the Right had at least questioned this, perhaps you would have some credibility now. You and the Right have every right to question what the Obama administration does, even if it improves the mess left by Bush/Cheney, but I’d rather hear criticism from people who didn’t start yesterday.

Scrotie McBoogerballs.

June 11th, 2010
3:09 pm

Halliburton Halliburton Halliburton Halliburton Halliburton Halliburton Halliburton Halliburton Halliburton

Bush/Cheney Bush/Cheney Bush/Cheney Bush/Cheney Bush/Cheney Bush/Cheney Bush/Cheney

Blame Blame Blame Blame Blame Blame Blame Blame Blame Blame Blame Blame Blame Blame

Left wingers = redundant troglodytes

GTT

June 11th, 2010
4:09 pm

Excellent essay. I also read the 2008 Time article, which is rather alarming. Seems like perhaps making green fuels from the organic material in our garbage is a better idea. However, if that was a panacea, it seems like Waste Management and BFI would already be all over it.

A CONSERVATIVE

June 11th, 2010
4:28 pm

. KYLE….People see you arguing with fools on the left…they can’t tell ……who is the fool…THE LEFT IS A BUNCH OF Fooooools.

Jefferson

June 11th, 2010
4:30 pm

By the end of the President’s second term, the country should be headed in the right direction.

Brad Steel

June 11th, 2010
4:30 pm

Ragnar gives us more of his insight with this nugget:This is not rocket science – follow the money trail. Nothing here but government-subsidized employment for people who could never compete in an honest market.

Like, uuhhh, NASA and rocket science. So what is not rocket science, gov’t jobs, is rocket science NASA’s gov’t jobs.

Thanks for clearing it up Ragnar.

'nother reference to green

June 11th, 2010
4:31 pm

So green jobs have a lot to do with sitting around picking your nose. Right, Kyle?

Think for yourself

June 11th, 2010
4:41 pm

Green jobs are a political sham designed to make money for politicians and people in the “green” industry-whatever that is.

How many manufacturing plants in China are on board with the whole green thing??

Michael King

June 11th, 2010
5:01 pm

Obama made a fatal mistake.Obama administration should:
1. Put a substantive price on carbon emissions, either through a carbon tax or a carbon cap & trade
2. Invest aggressively in basic R&D
3. Use our tax code to encourage investment in energy efficiency and that green jobs stay in America

The Nimbus 5000

June 11th, 2010
5:28 pm

“By the end of the President’s second term, the country should be headed in the right direction.”

Best joke I’ve heard all day! :)

A CONSERVATIVE

June 11th, 2010
5:28 pm

BILIONs $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ for WASTE…..WASTE….WASTE….WASTE…

The Nimbus 5000

June 11th, 2010
5:28 pm

If green energy is so great how come I see more cars with Obama/Hope stickers on the road?

A CONSERVATIVE

June 11th, 2010
5:30 pm

TELL ME WHAT A GREEN JOb is.????other than cutting GRASS…

The Nimbus 5000

June 11th, 2010
5:31 pm

If green energy is so great why does Al Gore drive 30 SUVs, have a fleet of jets and operate a coal factory out of back yard?

A CONSERVATIVE

June 11th, 2010
5:38 pm

GREEN is 100-percent myth……just like GLOBAL WARMING is a HOAX….pure liberal hok

A CONSERVATIVE

June 11th, 2010
5:39 pm

JUNIOR SAMPLES…….WHEN DID YOU FALL OFF A TURNIP TRUCK..???

DawgDad

June 11th, 2010
5:49 pm

Scam on the American taxpayers, pure and simple.

godless heathen

June 11th, 2010
6:14 pm

I puree frogs. Now that’s a green job.

godless heathen

June 11th, 2010
6:18 pm

>>I want our government to pay people to dig holes in the ground and fill them back up again if necessary. <<

Make work government jobs are always a losing proposition. But the concept of working to produce a good or service that is in demand is foreign to liberals.

Consumer Research FTW

June 11th, 2010
6:27 pm

I find it difficult to understand the Conservative aversion to the whole environmental concept. As a doctoral student in Marketing, I assure you that “green” consumption is hardly a scam or a “liberal” conspiracy. Consumers of all political pedigrees are demanding green products with ever-increasing intensity, and producers are scrambling to develop these products and position them appropriately. More, from an economic perspective, investing in “green” technologies is only sensible from a long-term perspective.

It is indisputable that petroleum- and coal-based energy is inherently limited. At some point, a point that is likely closer than we would prefer, these sources will become untenable for energy production, particularly as supply dwindles and price begins to increase. The economy that possesses the most advanced energy technologies that do NOT require these resources is the economy that will succeed.

This whole debate is indicative of the problem that plagues conservative “thinkers”, Kyle included, today. It is resisted because it is viewed as a “liberal issue”, not because it lacks merit. Most of you are so irrational that you reject, out of hand, ANYTHING that is perceived as being “liberal”. Well, shame on you. Your zeal to attack anything that Limbaugh and Beck tell you to blinds you to basic concepts of economics and production.

Even Kyle, who claims to be marginally educated, commits the most common fallacy of the right-wing hoi polloi, suggesting that because a technology is not CURRENTLY more productive than the alternative, that it is valueless. This is nonsense. All research passes through early phases and then matures. Discoveries are made and technologies become more and more efficient. However, this doesn’t happen without money, and it certainly doesn’t happen as long as certain big-money interests are allowed to control the allocation of research dollars.

I look forward to the day when rational people can discuss the importance of renewable energy source research without being bogged down in petty, childish political name calling and shrieks of “SCAM” by uneducated ideologues.

MarkV

June 11th, 2010
6:29 pm

Another nonsense from Kyle and the Republicans. There is a vast difference between understanding whether a specific job can be identified as green, and spelling out an exact definition that would cover all such jobs and only legitimate green jobs. This process may take time and also includes decisions regarding those areas that are controversial, such as ethanol industries. To demand waiting until a perfect definition is formulated is just another tactic of trying to kill the concept.

MarkV

June 11th, 2010
6:46 pm

Why are some people writing nonsense like The Nimbus 5000?

Subject Matter

June 11th, 2010
6:59 pm

Kyle got his butt “Kicked” on this one!

Consumer Research FTW

June 11th, 2010
7:40 pm

Hey, Kyle – have the guts to release my post from the length filter. Or are you like the rest of the right-wingers…a big coward?

TjAtl

June 12th, 2010
12:09 am

Wow. What’s really alarming is that people with this attitude don’t seem to understand the point to which we, the taxpayers, subsidize the oil industry. People want to go off about how “alternative” energy needs to pull its own weight, be determined by market forces, etc. They are apparently not aware of how seriously skewed our government has made the market in oil’s favor.

Let me put just two examples on the table:

1. The “oil depletion allowance”, introduced in 1926, lets certain companies deduct 15% of the GROSS income they derive from oil and gas wells from their taxable incomes, and continue to do that for as long as those wells are still producing. Some smaller companies get to increase the deduction by 1% for every dollar the price of oil falls below $20 a barrel. This tax break, on which we lose about $1 BILLON A YEAR, can add up to many times the cost of the original exploration and drilling.

The tax break is meant to encourage exploration for new oil (presumably something no oil company would otherwise do). Oil industry executives argue that other businesses are allowed to depreciate the costs of their manufacturing investments. That’s true, but they’re only allowed to take off the actual cost of those assets, not deduct 15% of their gross income virtually forever.

The allowance was restricted in 1975 to independent oil companies that don’t refine or import oil. To make up for this, the larger, integrated companies were given the following, even sweeter deal:

2. The “intangible drilling cost deduction”. It lets them deduct 70% of the cost of setting up a drilling operation in the year those expenses occur, rather than having to depreciate them over the expected life of the well. The other 30% they can take off over the next five years. This boondoggle costs us about $500 million a year.

You must somehow think it’s OK for the government to choose THOSE winners.

The Nimbus 5000

June 12th, 2010
4:29 pm

“Why are some people writing nonsense like The Nimbus 5000?”

Better questions: Why do left wing retards always ask stupid questions yet never say WHAT is nonsense?

TjAtl

June 13th, 2010
1:22 am

Hey Nimbus – what’s your brilliant comeback to my post?

Michael H. Smith

June 13th, 2010
10:29 am

One big problem exists for conservatives on this topic Kyle: We failed when we held power to do the right thing in regards to making America energy independent. We had the initiative under Nixon, lost it, forgot about it and did nothing of any genuine importance since then.

Now Conservatives and the “Classical Liberals” (Libertarians) cry?

Oh yeah, we got people like Sean Hannity blabbering, “I’m for all of the above”!

Define the end game of all of the above please? (I’d love to take you and Glenn Beck on, Mr. Hannity. The both of you are every bit as phony as carbon tax creating socialist left on this issue)

And, yes, I do know the root of Conservative means “to conserve”, which does not mean consume nothing anywhere for any reason. If the father of conservation in this country was today attempting to build the Panama Canal the environmental nut-jobs on the socialist left would stop him cold in his tracks before the first shovel of dirt could be turned.

Government didn’t choose the winners or losers in the energy policy of this country, Kyle: We did!

That’s right, we on the conservative side have made this mess you now cry about that the socialist left is creating.

Until we on the right can produce a plan to make America energy independent (not more worthless Hannity cliches) we would be better off remaining silent.

The Nimbus 5000

June 13th, 2010
5:49 pm

“Hey Nimbus – what’s your brilliant comeback to my post?”

You have the IQ of a carrot.