Hearing on “Clean Energy Jobs, Climate-related Policies, and Economic Growth – State and Local Views"
July 21, 2009
As a former mayor, I have a unique appreciation for this hearing. Whether a mayor, governor, or town councilman, whether Republican, Democrat, or Independent, local officials have a keen, first-hand understanding of their states and communities, and the issues that affect them. I look forward to your testimony today.
Because states differ in many respects, you will hear differing perspectives on cap-and-trade and green jobs. As I’ve stated before, cap-and-trade benefits the coasts at the expense of the heartland. Cap-and-trade divides rather than unites America behind a sensible, workable energy policy. This fact is clear in the testimony of Arkansas State Rep. John Lowery, who is a Democrat.
When it comes to Waxman-Markey, Rep. Lowery is clear: “Unfortunately,” he said, “this bill will devastate my region. It will kill jobs, harm our school system, throw back our economic progress gained the last few years, and imposes a disproportionate burden on Arkansans.”
Rep. Lowery also speaks eloquently about a “way of life” that would perish under cap-and-trade. He is referring to life in Arkansas and rural America. Cap-trade supporters see rural America as wasteful and environmentally backward. They see those in rural America as mere contingencies in the battle to save the planet. But these are real people with real jobs and real families. And for them, cap-and-trade will spell economic disaster.
The debate over cap-and-trade does is not partisan; it’s regional. And I can tell you, when it comes to energy policy, Democrats in the Midwest and the South think differently than Speaker Pelosi and Henry Waxman.
On the one hand, the policy of the coasts is to ration energy and make it more expensive through regulations and mandates.
On the other hand, the policy of the heartland is to increase domestic energy supplies—including wind, solar, geothermal, as well as oil, gas, nuclear, and coal—to make energy cleaner, more affordable, more abundant, and more reliable. In our part of the world, we invite new energy development, whatever its form, because we know it creates jobs and expands our economies.
This is the policy of North Dakota, as Gov. Hoeven will describe in his testimony. North Dakota is finding success in deploying new technologies to burn coal more cleanly and to drill and extract oil and gas with a minimal environmental footprint.
North Dakota isn’t taxing, or creating new layers of bureaucracy; it’s developing domestic resources and creating jobs and energy security. Thus it’s no surprise that North Dakota currently has a budget surplus.
Those in the heartland are rightly skeptical about promises of green jobs and a new economy. They ask a simple question: what does this mean for my community and my state?
There’s nothing inherently wrong with “green jobs,” so long as they don’t replace existing jobs. But this is exactly what Speaker Pelosi and Henry Waxman are talking about. They, along with President Obama, want to emulate the Spanish model, which has been a failure.
So let’s look at Spain for a minute. Now it’s true that new wind farms and other forms of alternative energy have created jobs in Spain. Yet a recent study by Dr. Gabriel Calzada of the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos calculates that the programs creating those jobs destroyed nearly 110,500 jobs elsewhere in the economy—or 2.2 jobs destroyed for every “green job” created.
The study also concludes that these jobs are temporary—in fact, only one out of ten jobs has been created for actual operation and maintenance of new plants. And the authors conclude that the costs of creating green jobs “do not appear to be unique to Spain’s approach but instead are largely inherent in schemes to promote renewable energy sources.”
This math just doesn’t add up. The Waxman-Markey bill will destroy far more jobs than it will create. In fact, the authors of the bill assume that it will kill jobs. When I read through it, I found an unemployment insurance program designed specifically for workers who lose their jobs because of Waxman-Markey. It also includes federal assistance for job relocation and job searching.
Rural America wants a different policy, one that recognizes the need to produce all forms of energy, ranging from wind to clean coal. No policy that includes 1,400 pages of mandates, taxes, and regulations will produce jobs or energy. And any such policy will threaten the rural way of life. We must defeat this bill or anything like it and pass a commonsense energy policy for America.