The October 30, 2009 WSJ edition provides confirmation of the job generating potential of the clean energy revolution so often mentioned by President Obama. Rebecca Smith’s article reports on the new green jobs resulting from the 36,000 acre wind farm in Texas. Unfortunately the jobs are being created in China; I thought that the President was talking about U.S. jobs.
Federal tax credits and millions of dollars of federal funding will be sought to create 2,800 jobs. Great, except that the article notes that the U.S. share of those green jobs would be all of 15%—420 jobs. The other 85% are created in China! The managing partner of the private equity firm behind this project is quoted as calling this a “win-win for everyone.” I say not quite everyone. It is presumably a win for his equity firm and a win for the Chinese turbine manufacturer. The loser in this game would be the U.S. taxpayer, forced to front the costs of this project and pay to ship jobs overseas. Wind power is touted as free, clean energy. Shrewd investors and manufacturers are happy to fulfill this fantasy with taxpayer money. The reported experiences of wind power in Denmark, Germany, and Spain note no closing of coal fired power plants as a result of wind power coming on line. Russian natural gas becomes the alternate back up power source when the wind fails.
Another report in the same WSJ details the Chinese march forward with nuclear powered plants, with plans to have as many as 100 on line in twenty years, up from 11 today. Here in the U.S., nuclear power continues to be hamstrung by environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, and by onerous permitting obstacles. The world’s first AP1000 third generation reactor, pioneered by U.S. Westinghouse, is to be located , not in the U.S., but in China. China is also reported to be the prime manufacturing site for the solar panels used in Germany.
China has seen the future and it sees that it is jobs and plentiful energy. This is something to remember here as the U.S. Federal energy policy is intent to make energy more expensive via Cap/Tax and Trade legislation. China is happy to fulfill our clean energy fantasies, take our green jobs, while building a new coal power plant each week, and building next-generation nuclear power plants.
Charles Battig, M.S., M.D.
President, Piedmont Chapter, Virginia Scientists and Engineers for Energy and Environment, Charlottesville, VA