Labor Rules Thwarting ‘Green Jobs’ Agenda

by Andrew Stiles

It turns out that President Obama much-exalted “green” jobs initiative is having a hard time getting off the ground in large part due to the federal government’s own extensive regime of regulatory red tape. Investor’s Business Daily reports that a number of internal reports have shown that certain federal regulations, many of them championed by labor and environmental groups, are thwarting efforts at the state level to create these “clean tech” jobs. (Ironically, these groups are some of the biggest supporters of Obama’s green agenda.)

In 2009, Obama dedicated $7.2 billion of stimulus funds to build “clean tech” jobs. He vowed to create 5 million jobs over the next decade.

So far, that effort has “created or retained” just 7,140 jobs, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s about $1 million per job. The number is actually down from last year, when the EPA claimed 16,605 green jobs.

Audit reports by the Energy Department’s Inspector General Office offer some clues as to why: Trying to comply with federal regulations such as the Davis-Bacon Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Buy American Act has stalled many projects.

Indeed, the labor-friendly Davis-Bacon Act, which requires the federal government to prove that it is paying prevailing regional wage rates on any federally funded project, is proving to be a particularly burdensome roadblock. Consider this rather amusing passage:

An IG report found that of the $226 million awarded to California under the program, just $68 million had been spent as of June. Jobs created? Just 210.

Suzanne Garfield, spokeswoman for the California Energy Commission, told IBD those numbers are off. They have spent $57.4 million, resulting in 319 jobs, she said. That equals about $180,000 in taxpayer funds per job.

So why, exactly, has the state (California no less!) been so dramatically unsuccessful in their effort to create green jobs?

Regulations were a key reason. Federal officials were slow to give guidance, providing it piecemeal over 18 months. And Davis-Bacon laws proved dauntingly complex.

“Many of the smaller jurisdictions we are funding have never had to deal with prevailing wage (issues) so it’s been a huge learning curve for them and requires more assistance from our agency,” Garfield said.

Looking forward to the impending West Side Story brawl between the Teamsters and the Greensters.

Read the whole thing here.

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