Talk­ing up job cre­ation . . .

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

When it comes to putting Amer­i­cans back to work, Pres­i­dent Obama has two dis­tinct al­ter egos. One acts to sys­tem­at­i­cally dis­man­tle one of the most pro­duc­tive sec­tors in the econ­omy while the other speaks pas­sion­ately in fa­vor of job cre­ation.

De­spite the fact that the oil and gas in­dus­try sup­ports more than 9 mil­lion do­mes­tic jobs and adds more than $1 tril­lion to the Amer­i­can econ­omy each year, Mr. Obama con­tin­ues to wage all-out war against the Amer­i­can en­ergy in­dus­try now with the Amer­i­can Jobs Act. The pres­i­dent’s jobs plan is to im­ple­ment a $40 bil­lion national en­ergy tax on Amer­i­cans.

In North Dakota, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is ac­tively seek­ing to ob­struct new nat­u­ral gas pro­duc­tion us­ing ad­vances in the tech­nol­ogy of hy­draulic frac­tur­ing. This road­block to new en­ergy pro­duc­tion is threat­en­ing one of the big­gest job bo­nan­zas in the state’s his­tory. In Louisiana, Mis­sis­sippi and other Gulf states, a pro­longed slow­down of off­shore drilling per­mits has put an es­ti­mated 155,000 Amer­i­cans out of work, ac­cord­ing to an independent study by Louisiana State Univer­sity fi­nance pro­fes­sor Joseph Ma­son. Even in states far from the Gulf, sup­pli­ers are reel­ing from lost busi­ness. Many off­shore drilling rigs and the good-pay­ing jobs that go with them have re­lo­cated to other coun­tries and will not re­turn for years, if ever. In Alaska, the ad­min­is­tra­tion is sti­fling job cre­ation by im­pos­ing new re­stric­tions on ex­ist­ing pub­lic-lands per­mits de­spite the bil­lions of dol­lars in­vested there al­ready.

Mas­sive new taxes on en­ergy pro­duc­ers pro­posed by the ad­min­is­tra­tion pose a fur­ther threat to good-pay­ing jobs. A new study by Mr. Ma­son con­cludes that the additional tax bur­den on the in­dus­try would trig­ger 155,000 fresh job losses at the cost of $68 bil­lion in lost wages. A re­cent anal­y­sis by the en­ergy re­search and con­sult­ing firm Wood Macken­zie con­cludes the higher taxes on the in­dus­try would cost about 170,000 di­rect and in­di­rect jobs by 2014 while cost­ing bil­lions in lost rev­enue and slash­ing do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion by 700,000 bar­rels per day.

While the pres­i­dent takes a wreck­ing ball to the job mar­ket, his al­ter ego talks of a na­tion that must fo­cus on putting Amer­ica back to work. The pres­i­dent points to the “green” jobs mar­ket as a fea­ture of his govern­ment-in­duced job-cre­ation pro­gram.

Pre­vi­ous govern­ment at­tempts to con­vert tax­payer dol­lars into the green-en­ergy sec­tor can only be de­scribed as colos­sal, waste­ful fail­ures. In 2010, for ex­am­ple, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is­sued a $2.9 mil­lion fed­eral grant to Ocala, Fla.’s, work-force-de­vel­op­ment or­ga­ni­za­tion to help pro­mote stud­ies in green tech­nol­ogy. Three-quar­ters of its first 100 grad­u­ates could not find work de­spite the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s state­ments that green jobs would be the next “em­ploy­ment boom.”

In the $825 bil­lion stim­u­lus bill, the ad­min­is­tra­tion chan­neled more than $90 bil­lion into clean-en­ergy tech­nol­ogy. Nearly 80 per­cent of stim­u­lus ear­marks for wind tur­bines ac- tu­ally went to for­eign man­u­fac­tur­ers, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the In­ves­tiga­tive Reporting Work­shop at the Amer­i­can Univer­sity’s School of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion. U.S. wind man­u­fac­tur­ing man­aged to post job losses last year even with these gen­er­ous fed­eral give­aways.

With re­spect to so­lar, Mr. Obama’s other pet in­dus­try, the track record is no bet­ter. The ad­min­is­tra­tion guar­an­teed a $535 mil­lion loan to the so­lar equip­ment man­u­fac­turer Solyn­dra in 2009.

Two weeks ago, Solyn­dra filed for Chap­ter 11 bank­ruptcy pro­tec­tion, leav­ing 1,100 work­ers in the un­em­ploy­ment line and tax­pay­ers on the hook. Even though ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials were alerted to the com­pany’s in­sta­bil­ity, they chose to stand by their friv­o­lous in­vest­ment on the tax­pay­ers’ dime. In Mas­sachusetts, tax­pay­ers like­wise were burned when the state took a $58 mil­lion stake in “poster child for green jobs” Ev­er­green So­lar, which folded in Au­gust.

Could we learn from other na­tions’ mis­takes? Ap­par­ently not, as around the world, the green-en­ergy-jobs story has been much the same. In Spain, a study by econ­o­mist Gabriel Calzada found that for ev­ery one green job cre­ated, 2.2 jobs in other in­dus­tries would be lost.

Spain likely has de­stroyed more jobs than it has cre­ated with its ex­ten­sive sub­si­dies for wind and so­lar. A Dan­ish study finds that ev­ery job in wind en­ergy costs $90,000 to $140,000 in sub­si­dies, which is more than the jobs pay.

Rather than wast­ing money on phan­tom green-en­ergy jobs, a far wiser course would be to re­move the un­fairly pu­ni­tive shack­les placed on Amer­ica’s present en­ergy pro­duc­ers.

It’s long over­due for the pres­i­dent to match his rhetoric with pol­icy ac­tions that will put peo­ple back to work, not cre­ate more green-en­ergy dreams that leave the tax­payer foot­ing the bill.

The pro­duc­tion of oil and gas means jobs for Amer­i­cans to­day and af­ford­able en­ergy for Amer­ica to­mor­row.

Thomas J. Pyle is pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can En­ergy Al­liance.

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