February 28, 2013

CONN CARROLL: California’s green jobs bust.

It was supposed to be the next big thing.

California built decades of broad-based prosperity from the Gold Rush, then Hollywood, then aerospace, and later Silicon Valley. At the turn of the century, “green jobs” were supposed to be the wave of the future.

“This is not just a challenge, it’s an opportunity,” then-candidate Barack Obama said during a 2008 presidential debate. “Because if we create a new energy economy, we can create 5 million new jobs, easily, here in the United States.” . . .

Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that California will once again face rolling blackouts starting in 2015, thanks to the loss of conventional plants and unreliability of wind and solar energy due to weather fluctuations.

But all these new green energy programs must at least be creating thousands of new green jobs, right? Wrong. According to the best numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fewer than 2,500 green jobs have been created in California since 2010. Compare that with the more than 556,000 jobs that California has added in total since the recession ended in June 2009.

Meanwhile, Texas, which is actively removing obstacles to private-sector development of its fossil fuel resources, has actually lost 928 green jobs since 2010. But the state has also added 612,000 total jobs since the recession ended, including more than 26,000 new jobs in oil and gas extraction alone. That total does not include a slew of other fossil-fuel-related jobs such as oil refining and natural gas distribution, nor does it include jobs that the fossil fuel industries support indirectly.

Read the whole thing.