Posted by Brendan Fischer on November 15, 2010

Wind turbinesAs part of our “Whoppers of the 2010 Election Cycle” article, we noted how Republicans ran misleading ads accusing their Democratic opponents of creating jobs in China by supporting the stimulus package. Not only did these ads completely twist the facts, but it was disingenuous for Republicans candidates to accuse Democrats of sending jobs to China when GOP members opposed the “Buy American” provisions that would have prevented this offshoring. Here, we discuss how the GOP’s sustained opposition to meaningful climate and energy legislation played a larger role in sending green jobs overseas than a vote for the stimulus.

The ads in question twisted facts from an investigative report that had discovered some stimulus reimbursement funds for renewable energy projects, like wind farms, had gone to foreign-owned companies domestically and abroad, largely because there are few wind turbine manufacturers in America. The latest figures suggest only 0.00037% of the total $700 billion stimulus package, $2.6 million, may have made its way to China; however, the ads claimed that "China gets $2 billion to build windmills," or that the package "sent nearly $2 billion overseas to create jobs in China.”

Even though the numbers cited were incorrect (the majority of foreign-owned wind developers were European), America’s weak clean energy market makes it inevitable that development funds will make their way to foreign-owned businesses -- wind turbine purchases are half of the initial wind farm development costs, and the U.S. has only two homegrown wind turbine manufacturers, General Electric and Clipper Wind. What’s more, both manufacturers still import many parts from overseas factories, and their market share has been consistently slipping, thanks to increasingly vibrant wind industries in Europe and Asia.

Republican Policies are Responsible for the Dearth of Green Manufacturing Jobs

The dearth of domestic wind turbine manufacturers is largely attributable to Republican opposition to meaningful climate change and energy policy. When investors see that a stable market is growing, they build wind turbine plants in the area where demand is located. Companies won’t spend the millions necessary to build plants and hire employees until they can safely anticipate long-term demand for their products. The wind energy market grows when there is reduced reliance on nonrenewable fossil fuels. Few wind turbine plants are located in the U.S. because manufacturers have not seen the economic incentive to build them, primarily because corporatist politicians have repeatedly blocked the legislation necessary to make clean energy viable in the U.S., putting the interests of their corporate oil cronies ahead of those of the American people.

The modern wind turbine is an American invention, and wind energy became an American priority during the 1974-75 energy crisis, when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cartel cut off America’s cheap oil supply. Throughout the 1970’s and into the 1980’s, entrepreneurs and researchers, in collaboration with NASA and the Department of Energy, installed clusters of wind turbines with the help of federal tax incentives. The Reagan administration’s free-market approach led the GOP to let these tax incentives lapse and slash federal funding for wind energy, bankrupting many wind start-ups. European companies bought some of these bankrupted companies and their technology, and European governments began investing heavily in their domestic wind industry, improving the technology and creating manufacturing jobs. In more recent years, green manufacturing has continued to lag based on weak domestic demand for wind energy, largely due to big oil-affiliated Republicans blocking energy legislation like the Kyoto Protocol or carbon emission standards.

Renewable energy is an international growth industry with great job-creating potential, as most of the world is aiming to reduce their dependence on foreign oil, based on both rising oil prices and national security concerns. Despite the current lack of U.S.-based “green manufacturers,” Obama administration policies have been aimed at catching up. The stimulus package was directed in part at retooling America’s workforce for green collar jobs and increasing clean energy production. The stimulus incentivized renewable energy projects in an effort to create the demand necessary to bring green manufacturing jobs to the U.S., as well as funds to train persons for these green-collar jobs. To further promote U.S.-based wind turbine manufacturing, in January 2010 President Obama announced $2.3 billion in tax credits for “Clean-Tech manufacturing” jobs.

But these projects can only generate short-term demand, and there will inevitably be a delay until plants are up-and-running. And even if plants are built from these stimulus incentives and tax credits, they will still need to have future buyers for long-term success. Capping carbon emissions would increase wind energy demand in the long term, thereby creating good, stable American jobs. What’s more, had climate change legislation been passed years ago, these green jobs would likely already have been in place, and there would have been no need to purchase wind turbines from foreign countries.

GOP Sends Jobs to China

Even though an insignificant amount of stimulus-funded wind projects sent any dollars to China, the country is becoming a clean energy giant.
Recently, investment analysts Ernst & Young ranked China the #1 “most attractive” nation for renewable energy investment, knocking the U.S. out of the top spot. Thanks to Republicans helping out their BP buddies, investors are now directing their money to China rather than the United States.

If pro-corporate poliiticians (mostly Republican, but also some Democrats) had not blocked proposals for reduced reliance on fossil fuels, America could have benefited from significant investment in renewable energy, as well as the good, stable jobs such investment can bring. Although China has similarly opposed emission caps, the Chinese government has taken affirmative steps to actively engage with renewable energy and subsidize production. If Republican administrations had not gutted federal investment in clean energy, we may not have been in this situation in the first place. America’s green infrastructure would have maintained its strength and manufacturing jobs would never have left our shores.

And it Continues...

Some Republicans floated into office on a wave of misleading statements about green jobs in China, and the party appears to be perpetuating the policies that created that condition. Newly-elected Republicans have taken a pledge to oppose climate change legislation, putting the interests of corporate polluters above those of Americans, further hindering our ability to create green jobs, and sending even more investment and employment overseas.

Brendan Fischer

Brendan Fischer is CMD's General Counsel. He graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Comments

Great article! Unfortunately, I think your math is a little off.

2.6 million is smaller than 700 billion by a *factor* of 0.0000037 -- but this is only a difference of 0.00037%. If the money being sent to China were 0.0000037% of 700 billion, it would be merely $26,000, about enough for a new car.

Otherwise, I love your work. Keep saving the world!

-Tim

Thank you! The article has been corrected.

Thanks for that boring comment. And now for the more entertaining alternative.

The Chinese have been big polluters so as long as everyone outsources manufacturing so that the Chinese, as proxies for American industry, are making all our goods. Their wonderful government, unlike the hypocritical United States Congress, doesn't make any bones about being "green." They only want to be "green" by making money.

I don't think that if we make the Chinese manufacture "green products" it is necessarily a bad thing because it might be better to let the Chinese manufacture "green" products than products that are not green, becasue that may be the only way to get China to stop making products that pollute the Planet than forcing them to live up to a Climate Treaty in a country that is so vast, you'd have to send a million little bureaucratic Marco Polos to discover the environmental violations there and a million little bureaucratic Marco Polos to figure out if these little Marco Polos found any violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

But the West is no better. Cigarette-smoking gendarmes are no more likely to police environmental crimes assiduously as the gendarmes in the film, Irma La Douce (1953) were prosecuting environmental crimes in Paris.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiKM6tcU0-4&feature=related

Nice try by Brendan Fischer. Too much depth and fact might just help confuse common sense even further. But isn't that what Left and Right spin does to any normally functioning fair-mindedness?

We may agree that creativity and entrepreneurship, whether bona fide or malintended, create job opportunities for others of differing more dependent initiatives. But surely it's only as a direct function of when enterprise and ownership develops sufficiently to require helping hands; and then only when such expansion is not impacted regressively by direct interference and unrealistic demands on such business activity?

Obviously then, what else must be expected if our otherwise successful business community is also always being held directly responsible for subsidising forever unsatisfied wants of 'developing' economies and untended population explosions in persisting uneconomic nations? Are those demands and regions not as much, if not more responsible for any dubious causes now conveniently concealed behind such an innocuous phrase as 'climate change?' Yet no squawk on those facts for some perhaps forbidding reason!

Thus, hiding behind the rather frail and highly-contested premise of 'man-made global warming' for some political expediency, and suggesting that the US's best minds and corporations willingly abandon their talents and country's best interests, is lame. And such logic then falls on its own sword, when failing to note alongside China's praise, that those very same enterprises also laud China ... but for providing them, like with other Western mega-corporations and of course even George Soros's interests, with invulnerable competitive economic climates to presently succeed in (even if ultimately at their peril).

How then can Big Labour and anti-free enterprise regulations, lawyers, activists, special interests, taxes, and so on, NOT avoid myopic responsibility for debilitating and hence unwittingly (purposefully?) redirecting the time-proven successful courses for Western enterprise? Are not such interferences forbidden in the previously failed economies of Labour et al's long-time allies and sponsors, like China, where private enterprise is now being carefully nurtured for its solutions?

So, once again, differentially, I can join Brendan in his thus ironic and rhetorical questioning of US businesses moving to China (or Ireland, or India or ?). But It's the driving 'force' and unnatural 'cause' behind his own illusion in his article which alert and alarm this American business-owner.

His "Buy America" spin, while his CMD colleagues attempt to raise domestic consumer prices to afford and fund their biased ideologies - by also laughably attacking a deaf, US-awakened and now entrepreneurially indestructible China to increase its costs of production, given its labour, humanitarian and environmental record - simply has to bring him full circle to first sensibly challenge his whole 'Green' premise: How does alternative or renewable energy in any way prevent global warming if proven to be a natural phenomenon?

Thereafter, and without humankind's cause, what has its many life-styles' carbon-emissions to do with anything? Or, better still, even if 'man-made' global warming has some proven credibility, and given that fossil fuels and atomic energy have done such a good job of progressing and feeding the planet so far, where's any sound argument against such technology continuing to feasibly morph towards more efficient and effective means than 'Green' in helping to economically preserve the planet?

Thus, despite all the one-sided 'facts' attempting to argue an untenable logic, purely for purposes of political justification, perhaps we can rather agree on the merits of sincerely seeking and finding common apolitical energy ground, which best serves Americans first - with the world's nations choosing likewise for their individual shortcomings; if permitted by our 'globalist' power mongerers?

Allowing initiative and entrepreneurship to show the way (as opposed to consistently berating and disrupting the best yet for purely selfish motives), presents not only a more conducive atmosphere for mankind's technical progress, but a more realistic climate for natural change; AND, a more unifying forecast for individual, national cooperation with understanding on a global basis.

For a start, this contrary media and its well-known sponsor/investor, George Soros, have seemingly more than enough creativity and appropriate resources, WITHOUT government and taxpayer support, to risk economically developing whatever desired alternative energies are preferred. Surely adding to mankind's, centuries-earned inventories of such investments and opportunities make more sense than, for example, undermining US light bulb output to support so-called eco-friendly substitutes from China?

Brendan Fischer's renewable energy thoughts thus fail substantially. Destroying everyone and everything reflecting civilization's progress to date, and on whose present strategies and technologies rely most of humanity in one form or another (even wind-turbines and solar-panels), is nonsensical.

It is appreciated that his vision may be blinkered by seeing fruitful economies only through the eyes of Governmental power, dictate, and freeloading people's rights and resources. But, he should well note, that even his obvious mentor's favoured China has hardly an honourable record for HIS OWN individual freedom and well-being at the end of the day; and, it has only recently succeeded in now challenging the world on most fronts by first bringing the real power of private ownership/enterprise, free-markets and competition back into play.

This article was about the reasons that America has fallen behind in “green” manufacturing. The basic premise is that the countries whose governments have provided the industry with support and incentives have pulled ahead. Nothing in this article supports the Chinese government’s policies on human rights or other issues, but it does recognize that Beijing (and much of Europe) has substantially subsidized its wind power industry. And China has pulled ahead of the U.S. in green manufacturing because of its government-led industrial policy, not by “bringing the real power of private ownership/enterprise, free-markets and competition back into play.”

I will agree that “creativity and entrepeneurship . . . create job opportunities . . . when enterprise and ownership develop sufficiently to require helping hands” (paraphrasing from your second paragraph), and that is precisely what happened in America in the 1970s. U.S. entrepreneurs had invented wind turbines, and when the U.S. government recognized that domestically-produced energy served the national interest, provided “helping hands” in the form of subsidies and incentives to promote the nascent wind energy industry. It dropped those subsidies in the 1980s and our industry has since declined.

In the U.S., climate change and energy policy would have provided an indirect way for the “free market” to come into play and might have promoted the development of a domestic wind energy industry. Regardless of how you feel about climate change, reducing American carbon emissions would have increased demand for wind energy, which would have compelled manufacturers to build plants near that demand. Even if you don’t buy climate change, domestically-produced renewable energy remains good for both America’s economy and national security, and energy legislation could have promoted wind energy manufacturing within U.S. borders. However, many Republicans refused to move away from our oil-based energy economy, particularly during Bush’s eight years in office.

Taking all of this into account, it was particularly disingenuous for Republicans to express shock that incentivizing wind energy farms in 2010 necessitated importing wind turbines from abroad. Finally, the article mentioned “Buy America” provisions not to advocate for protectionist measures, but to point out the irony of Republicans accusing Democrats of sending jobs overseas, but not supporting the provision intended to prevent just that.

Let me know if there is anything else to squawk about.

“Here, we discuss how the GOP’s sustained opposition to meaningful climate and energy legislation played a larger role in sending green jobs overseas than a vote for the stimulus” (to underscore Brendan Fischer’s intro).

And in his parry to my response “The basic premise is that the countries whose governments have provided the (‘Green’) industry with support and incentives have pulled ahead (my parentheses for clarity).”

Thus, my appropriately highlighting the article for taking such a biased political stance (Republican blameworthiness) on a fundamentally flawed proposition, ‘Green’ (or however the article explores convenient terminology for ridiculed climatic theories and champions), to justify some fatuous demand for increased taxpayer subsidies, incentives and sacrifices through government-sponsored interference and prejudices aimed directly at America’s regular enterprise and resources, was precisely to the point.

With the article so focused and dependent on ‘Green’ for its raison d’être (regardless of any intended premises and logic), it was clearly shown to suffer a lack of any cohesive relationship with climate change and viable job creation, especially when it denounces or precludes alternative/competing theories.

It is presumptuous at best, and simply non sequitur to present an under-debated ‘Green,’ in principle or form, as if automatically acceptable to most Americans, or, for that matter even directly related to either a de facto or contrived “Climate Change.” And, it must be patently obvious to Brendan by now that neither a ‘Green’ nor ‘man-made global warming’ agenda is considered desirable enough for US tax-paying citizens to be continually forced to spoon and force-feed consequent fantasies.

Thus, the article’s bandying around of superfluous ‘facts’ as if trying to resuscitate any past ‘Green’ credibility, now through ‘man-made’ global warming for its justification, while condemning America’s entrepreneurship and global corporations for protecting their proven business interests, renders the term “green jobs” oxymoronic and redundant to begin with - particularly if sponsoring any assumed demands for such jobs is insidiously designed to be achieved through government, and solely at the cost and replacement of prevailing, proven enterprises.

In short, with no ‘man-made global warming’ and/or alternative economic basis defined to truly create and drive viable ‘Green’ opportunities in the first place, Brendan’s article is reasonably challenged on motive and logic, not opinion.

But, in addition, Brendan’s emphases on bonding ‘Green’ with public concessions, incentives, subsidies and regulation, as if over the years government ‘stimulus’ (just like ‘climate change’) isn’t also now ‘sly-speak’ for something completely different (bail-outs, pork, earmarks and corruption etc), is not only also illogical and indefensible, but fully arms antagonists:

The world’s largest industrial company, and ”one of the world’s leading wind turbine suppliers”, GE (Obama funder/financial advisory team and owner of left-wing media loss leader MSNBC (also paying anchors million $ salaries)), has “over 13,800 worldwide turbine installations.” Yet, after 25 years in turbines and initially receiving government subsidies/incentives for 10 years, it is yet again fleecing the taxpayer, having claimed financial disaster without a contrived 2009 $15 Billion odd Government bail-out (shades of Unions, Goldman and Fannie/Freddie, etc)! Its cost per ‘Green’ job opportunity created? Roughly $250,000 (refer its proud ‘Green’ website)! This is not desirable or sustainable job creation – it is pure corruption for enriching and protecting select interests, the political elite and their allies!

Next. Is China for real with Wind Turbines, Brendan? Try Bloomberg Dec 2, 2010 “China’s President Hu Jintao wants non-fossil (note) fuels to produce 15 percent (only) of China’s energy by 2020. Although the Chinese have spent plenty on wind turbines and solar panels, only a buildup of nuclear power (note) can make that target reachable.” And, “Developing clean, low-carbon (note) energy is an international priority,” says Zhao Chengkun, vice-president of the China Nuclear Energy Association. “Nuclear is recognized as the only (note) energy source that can be used on a mass scale to achieve this.” And, “China’s energy planners say they aim to have 40 reactors by 2020 and, by 2030, enough additional reactors to generate more power than all 104 reactors in the U.S., the leader (note) in nuclear energy. The Chinese are ready to spend $511 billion to build up to 245 reactors. Just 13 nuclear plants operate in China today. Now they are building 25 facilities, accounting for close to half the reactors under construction worldwide.” (my parentheses for emphasis).

So doesn’t even China, with its huge disadvantaged labour pool being desperate for viable opportunities, see any validity in the article’s ‘Green’ growth logic for jobs and replacement of existing economies either? Not even when flooded with record private enterprise funding, is not a democratic republic suffering Republican challenge and competition, AND, is ruled by decree and absolute control, rather than citizen-elected leadership? But perhaps such ideals also resonate somewhere behind the article’s disclosed aims and rationale?

Nevertheless, the article and response thus shoot themselves in all 3 feet of presumptive relationship between Global warming for Global warming’s sake, Green for Green’s sake and jobs for job’s sake. All three tenets are reflected as destructive forces against any others for them to succeed. More significantly, in combo, they are proven to self-destruct at inception if not tempered with common sense and understanding.

‘Environmental activism’ based on politically/socially-biased premises, pollutes rather than purifies. What matter which party, group or individual objects/promotes, provided all sincerely seek truthful solutions for the good of all in a community; rather than for everyone else but? Yet the article ignores sound reasoning for obligatory and unending tax-payer support for other’s flights of fantasy.

Hence, do we subsidize a fact or a myth? Let's simply get real and agree first. Climate change is just that. Nothing sinister. We can agree. Natural warming or ‘Man-made’ warming? Either agree or not – because, either way the vital agreement FIRST is: ‘Is there anything mankind can do about it?

So, before ‘Green’ and jobs, Brendan, please get ‘global warming’ out of your way. Even with Soros always funding its promotion along with upheavals for polarising change and yet again (yawn) ‘influencing’ the UN (instead of simply subsidising all the (nonviable?) ‘Green’ projects he also pretends to support), he and the UN bring no credence to the table, with their history too of progressing debilitating handouts, crony favouritism and corruption being no better than in US politics.

Then without “squawking,” we could agree at the same time that, were it not for mal-intended interference in our US domestic enterprises, there’d probably be more than enough ‘Green-alternative’ and ‘Renewable (unsubsidized) energy’ opportunities also to satisfy everyone ... and all without having to trash the US Constitution with its individual rights and self-endeavour so as to absorb America into some megalomaniac's global oligarchy.

But I don’t suspect the article was written for ensuring such self-preserving reasoning following ‘We the People ...’

While Immigrant may think he/she is thinking clearly when creating this morass of a comment, I think contained within these several paragraphs is, perhaps, the highest concentration of fuzzy math and fuzzy thinking I have ever witnessed.
Just two points, and then I'd like the reviewers to consider removing Immigrant's ranting:
1. The wealthiest special interest Lobbyists decide what markets to nurture (oil and gas) and what markets to torpedo (non-commodity energies like wind or solar), so don't tell me "time-honored" western capitalist business practices are anything near a "free" market economy;
2. Human-caused Global Climate Change (aka Global Warming) is not a theory, it is fact. The only theories out there are how fast and how intense will the worst effects be in this century versus next. When you understand that burning just one gallon of gas (derived from oil that was sequestered underground for hundreds of millions or billions of years) is burned, 21 pounds of carbon dioxide are added to the atmosphere. Eight pounds of liquid gasoline when combined with oxygen produces 21 pounds of CO2. Now multiply that number by the number of gallons burned worldwide for the last 100 years or so (on top of coal and other underground carbon sources, like methane natural gas), and you quickly realize that we are changing the composition of our atmosphere forever. 380 parts CO2 per million has never been seen during the time humans have walked the earth.

These are indisputable facts, Not "highly-contested" phenomena. What we need is more scientific literacy and less head-in-the-sand denial in order to inform public policy and create a stable and increasing demand for clean energy. Thank you.