Factchecking Obama's Green Jobs Ad

President Barack Obama's campaign has released its first ad for 2012. The ad emphasizes his record on energy independence (hours after rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline) and green jobs. To deflect attention from Solyndra, the ad cites a Brookings Institution study claiming "America's clean energy industry" has "2.7 million jobs" and is "expanding rapidly."

Not quite.

First, that 2.7 million figure is the number of "clean jobs" in the economyThis may sound like arcane hairsplitting, but Brookings defines clean jobs as jobs that "produce good and services with an environmental benefit." That is a much bigger category than jobs in the renewable energy sector, which counts only 140,000 jobs, according to Brookings.

In addition, many of these clean industries are already well established. From a report I co-authored with Todd Wynn for Cascade Policy Institute:

Surprisingly, the top sector for clean jobs was not installing sleek new solar panels or manufacturing electric cars, but “waste management and treatment” (386,000 jobs). In other words, trash collectors. Rounding out the rest of the top four were “mass public transit” (350,000 jobs), conservation (315,000), and “regulation and compliance,” i.e., government employees (141,000). Should the 21st Century economy really depend on hiring more trash collectors, bus drivers, and bureaucrats?

Since many of these 2.7 million clean jobs had already been created, this is a far cry from then-Sen. Obama's 2008 campaign promise "to create 5 million new green jobs."

The "expanding rapidly" claim is debunked, once again, by Brookings. From 2003-2010, the rate of growth for clean jobs was 3.4 percent. The rest of economy was 4.2 percent. Brookings does note that many clean tech startups have been growing "at torrid pace, albeit from small bases." But the clean tech sector is heavily dependent on government financing, so even these startups are in jeopardy. Alex Trembath, a policy associate at the Breakthrough Institute, describes "the coming clean tech crash:"

Our research shows that over 70 percent of the federal policies and funding support for clean energy that has catalyzed the recent growth of the industry is expected to lapse in the next three years, or has already expired. And make no mistake--clean energy is an industry dependent on government subsidy: tax credits, depreciation and other subsidies compose one third or more of the total after-tax value of most solar, wind or other renewable energy projects, for example...as these public investments fade away, we are now more likely to witness a clean tech crash than a clean tech revolution.

For more energy Cassandras, read Ronald Bailey on green jobs and Tim Cavanaugh on Solyndra.

If you want to know more about green job creation schemes, read Reason, plus the full Cascade report, "The Dirty Secret Behind Clean Jobs."  A personal favorite from that report: Shepherds Flat wind farm, which received $1.2 billion in subsidies, but will create only 35 permanent jobs.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Should the 21st Century economy really depend on hiring more trash collectors, bus drivers, and bureaucrats?

    Whatever it takes, goddamn you, sir! (Heavy on the bureaucrats.)

  • tarran||

    I believe it was 165 kilometers per hour or 103 mph

  • tarran||

    ... er Correction to the windmill failure alt text

  • ||

    If it's not Scottish, it's crap!

  • db||

    Probably made in Spain.

  • ||

    The Obama campaign lied?!? I just cannot believe that. I mean, I would never have expected that. Never.

  • ||

    Are you just as traumatized as I am due to Dear Leader's unexpected deception? He must be under the influence of the Rethuglicant taint! THE POWER OF MARX COMPELS YOU, CAPITALIST! THE POWER OR MARX COMPELS YOU! RELEASE DEAR LEADER!

  • ||

    NNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

  • rather||

    onetime I put my shoes under my arm so they wouldn't get wet when I crossed a stream but when I got to the other side it was a toilet instead.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    These are still the best (seriously). Keep them coming.

  • ||

    I cannot for the life of me, recall a campaign ad from a sitting President that engaged in this level of sheer denial and arrogance.

    Really, you're going to cite an article from the 3rd month of your Presidency in regards to "ethics" given all the shit that has happened since?

    And then play fast and loose with "facts" as if they mean nothing at all. Oh and mad props for that politifact citation from 1/21/2009. One has to guess its based on your bullshit no-lobbyist claims, which of course were utter lies once all the waivers came in and all the meetings were simply shoved off White House grounds and into the coffee shops, resturants and bars across from 1600 Penn.

    Fucking fraud.

  • ||

    A look at Dear Leader's presidential record indicates this sort of noxious bullshit is precisely what we should be expecting. The guy's a fucking liar, and that's what he'll always be.

  • ||

    The guy's politician is a fucking liar,

    Seems like business as usual to me.

    Consider the last guy ran on a limited, responsible government platform, then invaded two countries, lied through his teeth about domestic surveillance, and signed the largest expansion of Medicare since its creation.

    Bullshitting the citizenry to the Nth degree is status quo.

  • ||

    Clap, damn you!

    Tinkerbell needs your help!

  • Captain Hook||

    Clap? Yeah, had to go to the free clinic over that pint-sized bitch since the Lost Boys used to pass her around like a god damned action figure at show and tell...wait, what?

  • Tman||

    You have to wonder how this dude sleeps at night considering the absolute BS he slings on a daily basis. He's not dumb, and he has to know what a complete and total lie claims like "America's clean energy industry" has "2.7 million jobs" and is "expanding rapidly" actually is.

    Or more likely, he's fully aware but doesn't care because he's a narcissistic asshole.

  • ||

    Sociopathic personality disorder means never having to say you're sorry.

  • ||

    TBH, the functioning (or dysfunctioning) of our modern political system is probably one of the most reliable diagnosis systems for sociopathy and compulsive lying.

  • #||

    Off topic: Is anyone else getting all these donate to elizabeth warren banner ads?

    Who though reason.com was a good place for those?

  • Live Free or Diet||

    As it happens, I am. The Peter Schiff Show too. Odd, the ads over there usually have to do with my recent browsing habits. Most often cameras and hardware.

  • ||

    I'm getting Warren and GOLD!
    Harbinger of bad times indeed.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    You see ads?

    Sucker.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    When I see anything considered green, I am shocked at how very often they are toys, gimmicks or just outright lies. My favorite example recently is a drinking fountain at Virginia Commonwealth University that has an extra spout with a meter for refilling drinking bottles. The meter reads plastic bottles saved. Only if I use that spout, huh?

  • ||

    Virginia needs to be saved from the taint of statism, dude. It's steadily transforming into a progressive pit.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Southern and Northern Virginia are pretty much two separate entities

  • ||

    How bad is it in northern VA?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Don't live there, but from what I gather, it's about as bad as it gets in the US.

    You can't look two ways without running afoul of HOA rules, city ordinances, the cops in general...

  • ||

    I knew it had that sort of problem, but I didn't know it was so clearly defined between northern and southern Virginia. Wow. Sucks.

  • Ed Zacharias||

    I live in Nova (everything North of Fredericksburg), and that about sums it up.

    However, Fairfax County is libertopia compared to across the river in Montgomery County, Md.

    Now THAT is a statist hell.

  • ||

    Oh yes, Montgomery County looks like one of those Soviet industrial cities built in Siberia by slave labor

  • ||

    Plastic bottles saved? Not created or saved?

  • ||

    I hate when I have to wait behind someone filling a water bottle from a drinking fountain. I mean, the 20 oz ones aren't too bad, but then you see the jerks with gallon jugs that take forever.

  • Ralph deJour||

    Meh.

    Water beds.

  • db||

    Jam a shim into the valve lever so it keeps running perpetually.

  • tarran||

    The sad thing is, all they needed to do was nothing and they would be reaping the rewards of an expanding economy with people grateful for their new jobs.

    Instead they fucked up the capital markets with their bailouts; fucked up the manufacturing sector with their crony capitalism and half-assed let's-make-losers-into-winners crony capitalism; and increased the unemployment rate by making businesses uncertain concerning what the true cost of hiring employees was.

    I'll bet if you dropped Obama of at a Tijuana whore-house with $1,000 in his pocket, he'd not only fail to get laid, but would spend half of it buying water with food coloring for the girls who would later jeer while watching the bouncers shove his sorry ass in a dumpster while pocketing the rest of his dough.

  • ||

    I disagree, dude. The point was not to necessarily get re-elected. The point was to loot the fucking joint while you had it and get the most shit possible to your cronies and buddies so that they'll owe you forever and then after the administration is out, whether after 4 or 8 years, you're set for life.

    And that's working out very, very well for them.

  • ||

    Yeah, all of them.

    Elected officials may go to DC with little money, but they all comeback a millionaire.

  • Tony||

    No mention of the claim that foreign oil dependence has been reduced below 50% for the first time in 13 years?

    Trying to figure out how to argue why foreign oil dependence is a good thing? (The implicit claim behind every reason energy piece.)

  • ||

    Please don't feed the sockpuppet.

  • Tman||

    Agreed- NO TROLL THURSDAYS PEOPLE.

    LEARN IT.

    LIVE IT.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    It's hard to resist.... I need a fix

  • #||

    Hmm, oil prices boom + people lose jobs and income = people use less energy

    All we need to do to stop using oil is to become poorer!

  • ||

    Trying to figure out how to argue why foreign oil dependence is a good thing?

    !!!The Law of Comparative Advantage!!!

    Look it up dipshit.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    No mention of the claim that foreign oil dependence has been reduced below 50% for the first time in 13 years?


    You're right, no mention!

    Maybe it's because the claim is bogus. Occam's razor can be a real bitch...

  • Cypress||

    I work in a filthy ass electric arc furnace steel mill that uses 100% recycled scrap as charge material. We also suck down a hell of a lot of electricity. I wonder if Obama considers mine a "green" job. Oh yeah, I'm exempt management, probably not.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    It ain't green if the government didn't pay for it buddy.

  • ||

    Join the pity party.

  • Rich||

    I have been attempting to explain "chutzpah" to a foreign-born friend.

    Thank you for that ad.

  • ||

    Trying to figure out how to argue why foreign oil dependence is a good thing?

    For a progressive cosmopolitan know-it-all, you sure are xenophobic.

  • Tim||

    Is force feeding a duck a green job?

  • ||

    Is force feeding a duck a green job?

    If you sell the feathers to North Face and REI after you harvest the livers, yes.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    The greenies are freakin' jubilant. I heard some of them on Diane "Speech Impediment" Rehm today. It was nauseating. They got what they wanted but they want more, for our own good, dammit.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    A sample of the comments from her site -

    Diane,

    Thank you for taking on this most important topic.

    I am exceedingly pleased with the President's decision today; yes it was a *temporary* delay in re-evaluating this misbegotten project's destiny; still it must not be forgotten that only a few months earlier, the State Department's blessing of the permit was (almost) a given. Massive Protest and Civil Disobedience turned the tide. I was one of those (per Bill McKibben's call to action) who joined fellow activists (repeatedly) at both the White House and the State Department hearings. Bill Mckibben is a hero. :). You can tell him I said so.

    A critical aspect that is missing in much of the news coverage (re: denying the permit) today is the significance of the Canadian Boreal Forests that are being systematically massacred to extract the Bitumen (Tar Sands). James Hansen, NASA's leading climate scientist, has stated -very clearly- that the progression of the Tar Sands Project in Alberta, Canada spells "Game Over" for the climate issue. In other words, the co2 that will be both released into the atmosphere and the co2 that will not be subject to sequestration by the "destroyed" forest will be (cumulatively) sufficient to wave goodbye to our chances in view of reversing the trend on global warming/climate change.

    The Boreal Forests in question are the size of Florida; if the Tar Sands project continues.. it could destroy a pristine forest (and all the life therein) the size of Florida.

    I hope you are able to talk to Bill about this aspect of this issue - and give him a chance to elaborate.

    Many many thanks for your good work and may Earth Live!

    -rosemary.

  • annonymous commenter some guy||

    ...Canadian Boreal Forests that are being systematically massacred...

    mas·sa·cre   /ˈmæsəkər/ Show Spelled [mas-uh-ker] Show IPA noun, verb, -cred, -cring.
    noun
    1. the unnecessary, indiscriminate killing of a large number of human beings or animals, as in barbarous warfare or persecution or for revenge or plunder.
    2. a general slaughter, as of persons or animals: the massacre of millions during the war.
    3. Informal . a crushing defeat, especially in sports.
    Why Men Lose Attraction
    CatchHimAndKeepHim.com
    10 Ugly Mistakes Women Make That Ruins Any Chances Of A Relationship
    Adverb (used with object)
    4. to kill unnecessarily and indiscriminately, especially a large number of persons.
    5. Informal . to defeat decisively, especially in sports.

    You can't massacre trees.

  • ||

    Bill Mckibben is a hero.

    Really, SN, what did I ever do to you? I already think that the human race probably doesn't deserve to survive and here you go and confirm it for me.

  • GILMORE||

    I already think that the human race probably doesn't deserve to survive...

    thank you for confirming the stereotypical anti-human instinct of 'environmentalists', who are basically nihilists pretending to love nature so much that they think civilization should collapse and the human species go extinct

    Do us all a favor and have the courage of your convictions... and off yourself for the good of the planet.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Some more genius level activity -

    billtmore wrote:
    For the life of me I will never understand why we do not throw a Trillion dollars at a massive push on solar and other clean renewables. It just seems like common sense. Perhaps if we had not waged two wars we could have. Perhaps if Grover Norquist did not have his stupid pledge we could put another tax on gasoline or Big Oil. I don't know, but when this Earth is reeling say in 50-100 years our children and grandchildren will be the ones to suffer. I hope all the blame is laid on Big business and the republicans SHAME ON THEM

  • ||

    You made my day. Thank you.

  • ||

    Scruffy please stop putting that stuff up or my head is going to explode. Or implode. Just reading that shit kills brain cells.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I read that stuff just to build self-confidence. Whenever I'm feeling down on myself, I visit balloonjuice and revel in all the stoopid. Look at all these people that are dumber than me!

  • billtmore||

    I hope all the blame is laid on Big business and the republicans SHAME ON THEM

    Meanwhile, people like me who did nothing more than fire up their computers and bitch will be recognized as heros who fought the good fight.

    C'mon, people! Take action! Complain that someone else isn't doing more!

  • mad libertarian guy||

    I don't know, but when this Earth is reeling say in 50-100 years our children and grandchildren will be the ones to suffer.

    Yet I bet this is one of those economic geniuses who can't take this same argument and apply it to the national debt which, unlike The Greenhouse Effect Global Warming Climate Change (which, since they've begun monitoring global temps in the 70s, has remained steady more than it has risen) isn't a fucking sham.

  • ||

    Why aren't all internet/smart phone/computer jobs considered "clean jobs"?

    If I can order it online, deliver it online or look it up online it means less driving right?

    Oh wait i forgot that the government has done jack shit to create any of these jobs....that must be why they are not included.

  • ||

    Maybe he should include it?

  • ||

    James Hansen, NASA's leading climate scientist, has stated -very clearly- that the progression of the Tar Sands Project in Alberta, Canada spells "Game Over" for the climate issue. In other words, the co2 that will be both released into the atmosphere and the co2 that will not be subject to sequestration by the "destroyed" forest will be (cumulatively) sufficient to wave goodbye to our chances in view of reversing the trend on global warming/climate change.

    ABANDON SHIP!

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    If only Jimmy would lead the way

  • Tim||

    VA ABORDO!

  • ||

    GAMER OVER, MAN! GAME OVER!

  • ||

    R

  • annonymous commenter some guy||

    If it's "game over" then we don't have to worry about it anymore. Why continue to worry about carbon credits, taxes and limits. What's the point? Might as well disband the IPCC too.

  • Canman||

    Don't they plant new forests as they go along?

  • ||

    Dear President Obama-

    Please make those teafucking ratbaggers in Congress repeal the laws of thermodynamics. Otherwise Gaia is doomed.

    We in the science-based community know you can do this.

  • ||

    That "reality-based community" crap has been good for a lot of laughs.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    The origin is even more surreal than how it has been applied:

    The source of the term is a quotation in an October 17, 2004, The New York Times Magazine article by writer Ron Suskind, quoting an unnamed aide to George W. Bush (later attributed to Karl Rove[1]):
    The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."[2]

  • GILMORE||

    That shit is straight up NewSpeak. Its postmodern rhetoric. "We're always right because we do not acknowedge 'wrong'. There is no spoon."

    Of course Obama can claim trash collectors are 'green jobs'. It's not "lying", its simply reinterpreting reality to conform to his narrative.

  • ||

    Greenies: "WAAAAH! MAKE THE RETHUGLICUNT RACIST PLANT-HATERS STOP! WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! OIL BAD!!!!!!! WAAHAH! CARBIN DIAWXIDE!"

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    OOoooooooooohhhhhhh!!!! Let me try!

    Dear President Obama,

    We, the 99%, know that money grows on trees and that trees store carbon which is that horrible byproduct of human respiration.

    Therefore, we insist, no we demand that you plant more trees in order to stimulate the economy and stop global warming now! OR WE ARE ALL DOOMED!

    Don't give into the Koch's, with all their oil and paper money. They just want to kill us all so they continue to use non-union labor in their plastic bottle production facilities. We know that you can do it, please be strong for our gender-free children.

    The 99%

  • Old Mexican||

    And make no mistake - clean energy is an industry dependent on government subsidy


    Oh, you won't need to say that twice! Nobody will make such a mistake, with the sole exception of economics and physics-illiterate nincompoops who could ever dare make such a mistake - just ask Tony!

  • annonymous commenter some guy||

    The "expanding rapidly" claim is debunked, once again, by Brookings. From 2003-2010, the rate of growth for clean jobs was 3.4 percent. The rest of economy was 4.2 percent.

    In all fairness, he wasn't comparing the clean industry to the rest of the economy. He was just comparing it to the other industries he tried to help out over the last three years: Construction, Real Estate, etc.

  • Old Mexican||

    First, that 2.7 million figure is the number of "clean jobs" in the economy. This may sound like arcane hairsplitting, but Brookings defines clean jobs as jobs that "produce good and services with an environmental benefit." That is a much bigger category than jobs in the renewable energy sector, which counts only 140,000 jobs, according to Brookings.


    It's like calling all women prostitutes only because they presumably exchange sex for a few dates, companionship or marriage and a house.

    Should the 21st Century economy really depend on hiring more trash collectors, bus drivers, and bureaucrats?


    Apparently so, gauging by the attitude of the president towards other industries.

  • ||

    Yeah right, Obama hates jobs, got it. Old Mexican, hah

  • Loki||

    This just in: Obama is a liar. Also, sky is blue.

  • India Govt Jobs||

    $1.2 billion in subsidies to create only 35 permanent jobs. Wow. This sounds like wall street

  • ||

    Yeah
    Like I needed to know that campaign ads are not accurate. This is news?

  • ||

    Come on Obama, you lying socialist, Marxist, Nazi Muslim sharia loving constitution shredder, please stop the war on Xtians and stop polluting our military with all those sodomites! And stop lying! I mean we are descending into Stalinism because of you.

  • ||

    well, i was doing fine with your article until you lumped Obama's goals with thegrowth of jobs in the years 2003-2010. Good luck with that bit of logic.

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