Fox News' supposedly "straight news" reporters recently asserted that federal investments in clean energy are wasteful and that the costs of green jobs outweigh the benefits. These claims are contradicted by several studies showing clean energy investments create more jobs than several other types of investments.
Fox News Correspondents Editorialize Against Clean Energy Investment
Fox's Doug McKelway: Benefits Of Green Jobs Initiatives "Are Lagging Far Behind The Costs." During the September 1 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, correspondent Doug McKelway claimed "The cost benefit analysis of green jobs around the world increasingly shows that benefits are lagging far behind the costs":
DOUG McKELWAY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: When President Obama unveils his job plan next week, observers will be keenly attuned to how much stock the administration puts in green jobs creation versus other kinds of job creation. The cost-benefit analyses of green jobs around the world increasingly show the benefits are lagging far behind the costs. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 9/1/11]
Fox's William LaJeunesse Called Green Energy Projects "Highly Inefficient And Wasteful." On the August 24 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, correspondent William LaJeunesse stated that "highly inefficient and wasteful green energy projects" were not included in a recent report identifying wasteful U.S. government subsidies:
WILLIAM LaJEUNESSE, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Now, this group is a coalition of environmental and tax watchdog groups, some free thinkers -- free market thinkers. They outlined about $62 billion in cuts to fossil fuels, number one, about 50 billion to nuclear energy, 95 billion to biofuels like ethanol and almost 60 billion in crop subsidies. But they do not mention the 21 billion for highly inefficient and wasteful green energy projects that produce little or no power compared to oil, gas and nuclear, and no mention of the loss of jobs and higher prices we'd likely pay for power and the calls for higher subsidies for low-income people that will have to pay more for expensive electricity, and the fact that Spain apparently destroyed 2 jobs for every green job it created. [Fox News, Happening Now, 8/24/11]
- Spanish Study Cited By Fox Has Been Widely Discredited. LaJeunesse's claim that "Spain apparently destroyed 2 jobs for every green job it created" is based on a discredited study conducted by Gabriel Calzada from Spain's Universidad Rey Juan Carlos. The study was commissioned by an industry-funded group and has been widely criticized for its suspect methodology and unsupported conclusions. [Media Matters, 9/1/11]
Studies Show Value Of Investing In Clean Energy
NPR: Clean Energy "Gets A Good Bang For The Government's Buck." National Public Radio reported on June 13:
There are reasons to believe that clean energy is a good investment, though. This part of the economy is small and growing fast. So far, it gets a good bang for the government's buck.
"If you took the government's stimulus program on green activities, you get 17 jobs more or less per $1 million of expenditure," said economist Robert Pollin of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, whom the Commerce Department hired to run the numbers.
For comparison's sake, Pollin calculates that the military creates about 11 jobs for every $1 million; the oil and gas industry produces about five jobs per $1 million.
Pollin said clean energy gets a better payoff because kick-starting a new industry requires a lot of manpower.
"There's way more jobs in clean energy because essentially there's a lot more construction jobs, there's a lot more manufacturing jobs, there's a lot more transportation jobs," he said. "So it's really the process of building the new industry that makes it a good generator of jobs." [National Public Radio, Morning Edition, 6/13/11]
UMass Study: Clean Energy Investments Generate "3.2 Times The Number Of Jobs" As Investments In The Fossil Fuel Sectors. From a June 2009 University of Massachusetts-Amherst study:
[T]he total number of jobs--direct, indirect, and induced--that we estimate would be created from spending $1 million in a combination of six clean energy investment areas--three energy efficiency investment areas (building retrofits, public transportation and freight rail, and smart grid electrical transmission systems) and three renewable energy areas (solar power, wind power, and biomass fuels).
This combination of clean-energy investments will generate about 16.7 jobs per $1 million in spending. As Figure 1 also shows, $1 million in spending within the fossil fuel industry, divided according to the actual proportions of spending in these sectors as of 2007 will generate 5.3 jobs in total.
Spending a given amount of money on a clean-energy investment agenda generates approximately 3.2 times the number of jobs within the United States as does spending the same amount of money within the fossil fuel sectors.
[University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics and Political Economy Research Institute, June 2009]
EPI: Recovery Act "Increased U.S. GDP By $146 Billion With Its Green Economy Investment." A 2011 study by the BlueGreen Alliance and the Economic Policy Institute found that by 2010, the Recovery Act:
• Committed $93 billion in public investment to green economy activities across a range of industry sectors.
• Creates or saves nearly 1 million American jobs with this $93 billion investment. These 997,000 jobs include both the "green jobs" created directly by investment in specific industries and indirectly by their suppliers, as well as the additional jobs created when workers spend their incomes back into the economy.
• Provides jobs for some of the country's most vulnerable workers. These include workers who have been on the losing end of structural trends in the labor market over the past generation - including those in the middle of the wage distribution and those with less than a four-year college degree.
• Increases U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $146 billion with its green economy investment. [BlueGreen Alliance, February 2011]
Pew: "Investments In Clean Technology Have Fared Far Better In The Past Year Than Venture Capital Overall." A 2009 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that between 1998-2007 green jobs "grew at a faster rate than overall jobs." The report also said "investments in clean technology have fared far better in the past year than venture capital overall":
Research by The Pew Charitable Trusts shows that despite a lack of sustained policy attention and investment, the emerging clean energy economy has grown considerably--extending to all 50 states, engaging a wide variety of workers and generating new industries. Between 1998 and 2007, its jobs grew at a faster rate than overall jobs. Like all other sectors, the clean energy economy has been hit by the recession, but investments in clean technology have fared far better in the past year than venture capital overall. Looking forward, the clean energy economy has tremendous potential for growth, as investments continue to flow from both the government and private sector and federal and state policy makers increasingly push for reforms that will both spur economic renewal and sustain the environment. [Pew Charitable Trusts, 6/10/09]
Brookings: Recovery Act Fueled Clean Economy Growth During Recession. In July, the Brookings Institution released a report on the clean economy, which includes economic activities that produce or contribute to "goods and services with an environmental benefit." The report found that "newer clean economy establishments - especially those in young energy-related segments such as wind energy, solar PV, and smart grid - added jobs at a torrid pace, albeit from small bases." It also stated that Recovery Act spending enabled the clean economy to grow "faster than the rest of the economy" during "the middle of the recession":
Overall, today's clean economy establishments added more than half a million jobs between 2003 and 2010, expanding at an annual rate of 3.4 percent. This performance somewhat lagged behind in the national economy, which grew by 4.2 percent annually over the period (if job losses from establishment closings are omitted to make the data comparable). And yet, during the middle of the recession--from 2008 to 2009--the clean economy grew faster than the rest of the economy, expanding at a rate of 8.3 percent. This is likely due, in part, to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which channeled large sums of public spending towards clean energy projects through much of 2009. [The Brookings Institution, 7/13/11]