Energy Conference Update #21 (Fake Jobs vs. Real Jobs)

October 22, 2003
12:00 AM
Like the first sighting of a robin in spring, a reliable indicator that the energy conference report may finally see sunshine is when Republican Senators go to the Senate floor and give speeches on how this pending legislation is the GOP’s top priority for "creating and protecting U.S. jobs." We heard the first of those discourses this morning. In addition to shouting “JOBS!” as a reason to drill in the ANWR, it’s predictable that the GOP will point to the Alaska natural gas line as a big job-generator. Our advice: Be wary of any claim that drilling the Arctic Refuge will create more than 65,000 jobs; estimates higher than that have been roundly discredited. As for the natural gas pipeline, the Republicans are right. We should know -- the current project is a Democratic initiative that Sen. Jeff Bingaman proposed nearly three years ago. ANWR: Drilling advocates frequently cite a 1990 study by Wharton Economic Forecasting Group that says 735,000 jobs would be created if full development were allowed in the refuge. Inaccurate analytical and modeling assumptions resulted in a biased analysis that dramatically overstates potential job creation. In late 2001, the Wharton Group admitted that flawed assumptions were used in the report. According to the Congressional Research Service (October 2001), under the most likely scenario, full development of ANWR would result in 60,000 new jobs. In 2001, the Center for Economic and Policy Research puts the number at “less than 50,000” nationwide. And the bipartisan Joint Economic Committee last year found that drilling ANWR would “create 65,000 jobs nationwide by 2020.” Why? The service companies that would shoot seismic would use existing equipment and staffing. Industry would most likely move drilling equipment from other sites in the Arctic as opposed to ordering any significant amount of new equipment. The upstream exploration and production part of the oil industry is no longer labor-intensive. The only new jobs are created during the actual drilling phase. Some new pipelines would be spread around the area to connect wellheads, and one would be built to connect with the existing Alyeska Pipeline. While any new job in this tepid economy would be good, spoiling virgin wilderness in exchange for mostly desk jobs in Houston is hardly a fair trade – especially when better job-generating options like the gas pipeline and a Renewable Portfolio Standard are available. WHERE THE JOBS ARE AK Gas Pipeline: The energy industry estimates that the proposed Alaska natural gas pipeline will create 400,000 new jobs in Alaska and the Lower 48. Construction is expected to take 5-6 years and cost $20 billion. An additional $5 billion would be spent on pipeline expansions in the continental U.S. to accommodate new Arctic gas. Jobs would be created in pipe manufacturing, constructing a gas processing plant and the jobs on the actual construction of an 800-mile pipeline. Building this pipeline is a Democratic dream because it would create so many new jobs … provide a significant opportunity for the steel industry … and ensure that the U.S. would not become as dependent on imported LNG as it is on OPEC oil. Democrats are proud to have initiated and advanced this project, and we’re grateful for the bipartisan support it has received in Congress. Renewable Portfolio Standard: If GOP leadership was as eager to create jobs as they are to please certain utility lobbyists, they would stop blocking the RPS. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a law requiring utilities to generate at least 10 percent of its electricity from renewable sources of energy by 2020 would result in an average of 47,000 construction and manufacturing jobs per year from the development of wind power alone. An additional 15,000 long-term operation and maintenance jobs would be created through 2020. This assessment is supported by labor organizations, state and regional economic development organizations, research institutes, public interest groups, environmentalists and others. Energy Effficiency and Renewables: Economic analyses demonstrate that investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy will create hundreds of thousands of quality jobs – more jobs than an equal investment in oil production and refining. These assessments demonstrate that policies to support clean energy will create hundreds of thousands of high-paying American jobs in construction, manufacturing, agriculture, transportation and other sectors. -- A 2001 economic analysis by the Tellus Institute compared job creation from investment in clean energy technologies to job creation from oil extraction in ANWR. The analysis concluded that over the same time frame, investment in energy efficient technologies and renewable energy would create 700,000 jobs by 2010 and 1.3 million by 2020. -- The Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab estimates that clean energy technologies based on domestic, renewable resources can significantly reduce imported oil and create 300,000 new jobs for American workers. -- The Department of Energy has estimated that if the nation triples its use of bio-based products and bio-energy by 2010, it will create 50,000 new, high-technology jobs in small processing plants in rural America and up to 130,000 new jobs in the bio-power, bio-products and bio-fuels industries. -- The Department of Energy estimates that the export of energy efficient technologies could reach $3 billion by 2010 with proper investments, creating 100,000 new jobs in the United States. -- According to the American Wind Energy Association, ramping up wind power to 6 percent of U.S. energy supplies would create more than 250,000 new jobs in the high-tech and construction industries. -- An economic analysis by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy estimates that efficiency investments in automobiles, construction, appliance, manufacturing and other areas would create as many as 1.1 million jobs over the next 10 years. Missing Provisions: Last year’s Senate-passed energy bill contained a dozen or more provisions that would support job creation and worker training – provisions that are all missing from this year’s GOP energy bill, including Energy Production (interconnection of distributed electricity generation and improved access to interstate grid by intermittent generators, i.e., wind and solar); Energy Efficiency (new mechanisms for upgrading/replacing Federal buildings that waste energy; grants to construct energy-efficient schools; implementation of vehicle fuel efficiency standards in ways that do not penalize U.S. production); Worker Training (workforce trends and traineeship grants; training institute for Building energy efficiency); and Maintaining/Restoring U.S. Leadership in Energy Technology (special emphasis on breakthrough technologies responsive to energy/climate change issues). So, when the GOP starts saying its energy bill is a jobs bill, be sure to check the math.