Friday, 5 March 2010

Tilting at Windmills

Last June, George Will noted Gabriel Calzada's study on the costs of "Green Jobs" in Spain.
Calzada says Spain's torrential spending -- no other nation has so aggressively supported production of electricity from renewable sources -- on wind farms and other forms of alternative energy has indeed created jobs. But Calzada's report concludes that they often are temporary and have received $752,000 to $800,000 each in subsidies -- wind industry jobs cost even more, $1.4 million each. And each new job entails the loss of 2.2 other jobs that are either lost or not created in other industries because of the political allocation -- sub-optimum in terms of economic efficiency -- of capital. (European media regularly report "eco-corruption" leaving a "footprint of sleaze" -- gaming the subsidy systems, profiteering from land sales for wind farms, etc.) Calzada says the creation of jobs in alternative energy has subtracted about 110,000 jobs elsewhere in Spain's economy.
Haven't read the Calzada study, but the magnitudes seem plausible.

Since the Obama administration frequently touted the benefits of green jobs, they didn't like that study. Says the Competitive Enterprise Institute:
After two studies refuted President Barack Obama’s assertions regarding the success of Spain’s and Denmark’s wind energy programs, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request reveals the Department of Energy turned to George Soros and to wind industry lobbyists to attack the studies.

Via the FOIA request, the Competitive Enterprise Institute has learned that the Department of Energy — specifically the office headed by Al Gore’s company’s former CEO, Cathy Zoi — turned to George Soros’ Center for American Progress and other wind industry lobbyists to help push Obama’s wind energy proposals.

The FOIA request was not entirely complied with, and CEI just filed an appeal over documents still being withheld. In addition to withholding many internal communications, the administration is withholding communications with these lobbyists and other related communications, claiming they constitute “inter-agency memoranda.” This implies that, according to the DoE, wind industry lobbyists and Soros’s Center for American Progress are — for legal purposes — extensions of the government.

This is a defense commonly employed against FOIA requests when seeking to withhold certain communications with, for example, paid consultants.
Hmm. An independent academic study being attacked by the big-industry interests in cahoots with the government. And I've not seen screams from the folks who worry about the corrupting influence of "big oil". One-sided skepticism. Or, choose your experts....

HT: Canadian Taxpayers' Federation, who really should have had more links in their post.

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