Chris Horner's Testimony to Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on "Trade and Green Jobs"

Chris Horner's Testimony to Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on "Trade and Green Jobs"

February 15, 2011

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The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today is considering the idea that the United States might become a world leading exporter of politically selected technologies and that this path might be blazed by mandating or otherwise expanding government (taxpayer) support schemes for those goods.

As I explain, experience shows that this is highly unlikely, if very likely to cause great harm.

‘Green jobs’ generally refers to a series of support schemes ensuring more man-hours per unit of energy produced. That is, ensuring more expensive, less efficient energy. This has obvious economic impacts, none of them positive. That makes the recently coined argument that these schemes are actually, somehow, the way out of the economic downturn more curious.

Congress should view ‘green jobs’ as the new ‘shovel-ready jobs’. It simply is not as advertised.

Even strong supporters of these programs nonetheless say things like Harvard economist Edward L. Glaeser recently wrote in the New York Times, that "it always was a mistake to think that clean energy was going to be a jobs bonanza," and "We shouldn't pretend that cheaper solar energy will end up employing millions of our less-skilled citizens."

Then there is “Michael Eckhart, president of the American Council on Renewable Energy [who said China has] ‘won manufacturing… Game over, exit the stadium’”.

But do not worry. “[H]e said there are U.S. jobs in installing and maintaining solar panels in the United States.” That acknowledges that the U.S. will not somehow become a world leading exporter of renewables by mandating their use here, and indeed it belies the public sales pitch for massive 'green jobs' schemes. It does, however, reaffirm what scrutiny of even those studies claiming net job gain from green jobs schemes reveals: not only will they not replace lost jobs in America, they won’t replace the additional jobs their support schemes cause to be lost.