"Green jobs" were sold to the American people not just as a way to improve the environment, but as a central pillar of the Obama Administration's response to our nation's growing unemployment epidemic. Two and a half years and nearly $100 billion later, this failed experiment has proven to do little more than misdirect investment and expand the deficit.
Despite the reality that "green" initiatives have done little to help and have likely hurt our economic growth prospects, the administration has doubled-down on the fundamentally flawed assertion that subsidizing green energy while suppressing traditional energy is how we will "win the future."
Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis recently testified before the House Oversight Committee that, "green industries" will allow "individuals to get good jobs, and to keep and advance in those jobs over the long term" and are a key part of the economic recovery.
Evidently, Secretary Solis and the president have ignored the findings from a new report released by the Labor Department's Inspector General revealing some sobering realities that cannot be ignored.
Equipped with $500 million to fund "green" worker training for 124,893 people, the IG found they have only trained 52,762 (42 percent of the target), and only 8,035 actually got jobs (10 percent of the target). Of those, only 1,033 (two percent of the target) have kept their jobs longer than 6 months.
The Inspector General reported that "grantees have expressed concerns that jobs have not materialized and that job placements have been fewer than expected...."
Elsewhere at the Department of Labor, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is now incorporating what can only be described as an artificial or manufactured measurement to "count" green jobs.
As one of the most well-respected data collection agencies in the world, the BLS's figures are the gold standard for understanding employment and inflation. Using BLS as a means to lend legitimacy to this politically favored sector of the labor force is an abuse that cannot go unchecked.
Because the concept of a "green job" is vague, not easily defined, and often arbitrary, counting these jobs is impossible to do accurately and the results are vulnerable to manipulation and misrepresentation.
The BLS has determined that jobs are "green" if they are (1) "jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources" or (2) "jobs in which workers' duties involve making their establishment's production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources."
While this definition may appear reasonable on the surface, in reality, there exists little relationship between jobs classified as "green" and actual environmental benefit.
For instance, the BLS criteria stipulates that jobs which "[i]ncrease public awareness of environmental issues" are green jobs as are those who "[e]nforce environmental regulations". Under this creative accounting gimmick, college professors that teach classes related to ecology, reporters that write about environmental issues, policy experts at think tanks discussing environmental policy, lobbyists advocating for environmental regulations, bureaucrats who work on environmental issues, all seemingly meet this criteria and will have jobs considered to be and counted as "green."
Even mass transit jobs or jobs supporting that industry are counted -- so if your job is to pump gasoline into busses (even if those buses ride around empty for much of the day) or even if you're driving a bus, your job is now considered "green."
Clearly, these aren't jobs "created," as the administration's rhetoric would have you believe, but rather jobs that have been cleverly "re-labeled" as green.
The creation of a "green jobs" metric in BLS's data is an attempt to codify a political construct and give it legitimacy in an effort to deceive the American people. Conveniently timed to be released in the second half of 2012, proponents will point to these new, yet meaningless, statistics to claim the green economy is more viable than it actually is. The administration is using the BLS to advance a political narrative at the risk of jeopardizing and undermining the credibility of the BLS.
Rather being a boon to growth, green collar jobs are a green noose around the economy's neck, suffocating investment and hindering expansion. At a time when job creation is needed more than ever, wealth redistribution masked as radical environmentalism is nothing more than another in the series of baseless get-jobs-quick schemes that have come to typify Obamanomics.
A good place to start would be recouping all remaining funds from the DoL's failed training experiment before it's too late. Based on the IG report, recouping those funds would offset nearly 60 percent of the taxpayers' loss on Solyndra. This would be merely a down payment on the $100 billion spent on the ill-fated green energy experiment, but it's a good first step.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), is the Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and represents the 49th Congressional District of California.