01.28.2021 0

Biden doubles down on failed Solyndra green energy jobs

John Kerry, Joe Biden’s new Climate Envoy, tells oil and gas workers to retrain for solar jobs that pay less than half of what they make now.

By Catherine Mortensen

President Joe Biden’s new Climate Envoy, former Sen. John Kerry, is telling high-wage workers in the oil and gas industry, whose jobs are at risk under Biden’s green energy schemes, that they should retrain to install solar panels. This is right out of the Obama-Biden 2009 playbook when they used federal stimulus funds to retrain workers for jobs with failed green energy companies such as Solyndra. Demand for those new green energy job skills never really took off. Even today, more than ten year later, the average wage for a solar panel tech is only $16.57/hour.  That is less than half the average wage in the oil and gas industry, $37/hour.

When asked what his message was for vulnerable workers in the oil and gas industry, Kerry told a reporter, “You look at the consequences of black lung for a miner, for instance, and measure that against the fastest-growing job in the United States, [which] before COVID was the solar power technician,” Kerry said. “The same people can do those jobs, but the choice of doing the solar power one now is a better choice.”

In 2016, the Department of Labor commissioned an independent study to evaluate the effectiveness of federal grants used to retrain workers for green energy jobs. It found very little success. In the executive summary, the report stated, “The short-term nature of the training (which averaged 2.4 to 3.3 months depending on the grantee program) and the resulting credentials appear not to have been sufficient to result in changes to the earnings trajectory of program participants within the 18- month follow-up period of this study, as evidenced by the limited employment and earnings impacts for sample members for three grantee programs and the low incomes at the end of the study period.”

The report also found that in two of the four community colleges studied, the green industry programs did not materialize as anticipated. “In addition, while the training provided may have been a ‘first step’ on a career ladder, there is no evidence that individuals continued beyond this initial training step.”

Those findings were similar to those of a 2012 study  done for the Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration.

After completing the federally-subsidized green jobs program, participants discovered their certificates were only locally recognized, which prevented them from being portable should the participant decide to move. For example, one grantee provided solar and wind technology certificates that were valued by the state, but not by the city. One grantee commented that “relationships are more useful than resumes in construction,” downplaying the importance of credentials in finding a job, at least in that industry.

Mason Bishop, an Assistant Secretary of Employment and Training in the George W. Bush administration, said there is not a huge demand for these workers, because solar and wind have huge limitations as viable energy sources. Their approach is ‘if you build it, they will come.’ In the Obama years, they created all these training programs and there was no demand for the labor. What the Biden team is doing now is nothing more than fortune telling and snake oil selling.”

Mason recalled that in 2009 when he lived  in Utah, workers in that state who had trained as solar panel technicians were unable to install solar panels because the state licensing board required installers to be licensed electricians. “The federally-subsidized training programs lacked rigor and standards. It was a boondoggle in many cases!”

Senior Fellow at the American Energy Alliance Dan Kish is also critical of the Biden non-energy agenda. “It’s very authoritarian. It doesn’t increase choice. It lessens choice. It doesn’t increase jobs. It reduces the number of jobs. And these are really good jobs that they’re kicking to the curb along with the good Americans.”

Kish said because Biden’s party now controls both Houses of Congress, he may be able to accelerate the spending and implementation for his job training schemes. “It’s basically what President Obama would liked to have done, had he controlled all the levers of power,” Kish explained.

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning said no one should be surprised that Kerry is telling oil and gas workers to accept half-wage green energy jobs. “His boss, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden, told coal miners they should ‘learn to code.’ Biden is systematically destroying the jobs of every American who gets dirt under their fingernails at work. Those union leaders who endorsed Biden should be held accountable by their members by either being voted out of office, or by having those members vote themselves out of the union.”

Kish predicts the end result of the Biden administration’s push for green jobs will be higher energy costs for all Americans. “They are going to get higher gas prices, higher utility prices, and higher electricity prices. In California, for example, they don’t allow new houses to be constructed with natural gas lines. If you prefer a gas furnace because it is cheaper to use, you can’t have that. And if you prefer cooking on a gas stove, you can’t have that either.”

Kerry’s comments are also being mocked on Twitter. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) tweeted, “John Kerry—who flies in private jets, owned a 76-foot yacht and several mansions—has the carbon footprint of a small nation. Yet he tells energy workers to “make solar panels” when the Biden administration kills their jobs.”

It is the epitome of elitism for Kerry, a rich billionaire who flies around in private jets, to look down on the hard-working Americans who have, for the first time in 63 years made America energy independent. This is just one more reason a growing number of Americans are already experiencing Biden remorse.

Catherine Mortensen is Vice President of Communications at Americans for Limited Government.

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