Committee Asks, “Where are the Green Jobs?” - Despite Billions of Stimulus Dollars Invested, Jobs Have Not Materialized

June 19, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - Continuing its work to create jobs and protect taxpayer dollars, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing today on “The Federal Green Jobs Agenda.” Just prior to the hearing, the subcommittee released the report, “Where are the Jobs? - The Elusiveness of Job Creation under the Section 1603 Grant Program for Renewable Energy.” Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) have sought answers about the selection process as well as the total number of jobs created through the Section 1603 Grant Program. Treasury’s response to the committee was telling, admitting that “…job creation is not one of the statutory requirements for eligibility and thus it is not a factor in the consideration process.”

During the hearing, subcommittee Chairman Stearns stated, “It is hard to know exactly how much the Obama administration has spent to promote, prop-up and subsidize its green energy agenda and even harder yet to accurately put a number on the green jobs created as a direct result of this substantial investment.”

Chairman Upton added, “There is no better measure of a stimulus program’s success than its record at job creation, a metric the American people are focused on as they watch the stubbornly high unemployment figures emerge each month. That’s why we were so surprised when both the Department of Treasury and the Department of Energy confirmed to the committee that a multi-billion dollar stimulus program, the Section 1603 grants for renewable energy, does not even include job creation among its primary objectives.”  

During the hearing, Dr. Molly Sherlock, Ph.D., a Congressional Research Service (CRS) Specialist in Public Finance, testified, “The estimates of jobs created by the Section 1603 grant program remain gross estimates, and still do not account for potential job losses in other industries.” Sherlock also presented a chart that revealed figures from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory do not provide a full accounting of “green jobs” created.

During questioning, Rep Cory Gardner (R-CO) sought specific answers from Sherlock by asking simply “How many jobs did the 1603 grant create?” The exchange was a revealing one. According to CRS estimates, derived from NREL estimates, the $9.7 billion paid out as of November 10, 2011, would result in 3,666 Construction Phase jobs per year and 355 operational jobs per year over a two-year span, or more simply, an estimated 8,042 jobs at an average cost of $1.2 million per job created.

Watch Rep. Gardner’s exchange with the nonpartisan CRS expert HERE

Despite the flaws of the Section 1603 program and its well-documented inability to create jobs, President Obama continues pressing to “double down” on the costly program and others like it. Treasury has already admitted creating jobs is not a requirement, and now that we have a meaningful estimate of the per-job cost for the first $9.7 billion, President Obama still wants to spend billions more even though the average cost for each job created was a stunning $1.2 million stimulus dollars.