Reid: I can’t refute NPRI’s findings, so please ignore them

Victor Joecks

This op-ed by Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid claiming to offer “the truth about clean energy” came out last week, and it’s hilarious.

Here’s his reaction to the Nevada Journal investigation that revealed that over $1.3 billion from the federal government has led to only 288 permanent jobs in Nevada.

Despite the evidence, there are many – such as Romney – who do not believe Nevada and our nation’s clean energy success. That’s why I wasn’t surprised to read the Aug. 5 Review-Journal editorial, “Green summit: And never is heard a discouraging word.” The Review-Journal cited a flawed study by a Nevada conservative think tank about the economic benefits to renewable energy development.

This editorial and the study do not serve Nevada’s best interests.

Yes, why would anyone want to know that a few years after federal taxpayers shell out $1.3 billion for green-energy projects there will only be 288 jobs left? That’s only $4.6 million a job. At that rate, it’d only take $753.2 billion to get every unemployed person in Nevada a permanent job. That’s definitely a plan in Nevada’s best interest.

Since he can’t refute Nevada Journal’s research, Sen. Reid returns to his hollow talking points.

Earlier I discussed the enormous economic benefits Nevada has seen as a result of clean energy projects, but they are worth repeating. Clean energy projects in our state have resulted in nearly 3,500 permanent and construction jobs and $248 million in tax revenue.

Nevada’s already learned what’s happened when you base an economy on construction workers building houses for construction workers. A bubble. Followed by the inevitable crash. Or maybe Sen. Reid missed that living at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington D.C.

The reason to focus on permanent jobs is because they’re permanent. The government’s great at creating economic bubbles, but that’s not a path to long-term prosperity.

As for that ballyhooed tax revenue, as Thomas Mitchell writes, “For the taxpayer that is like taking money out of one pocket and putting it in another.”

Reid continues:

Skeptics often criticize the number of permanent jobs from clean energy projects as evidence that they do not warrant the investment. The problem with this argument is that they simply discount the value of the construction jobs as if they do not matter. No one applies the same standard to road, bridge or water construction projects because everyone understands their value to the community at large and their relationship to economic growth.

Exactly. Everyone understands the value of a road and a bridge. They add value to a community.

We don’t (or as the stimulus showed, shouldn’t) build roads to create jobs. We build roads because we need roads.

In contrast, the theme of Sen. Reid’s 2010 Clean Energy Summit was “Investing in American Jobs.” Sen. Reid and others specifically sold green-energy subsidies as job creators, which, as Nevada Journal’s investigation reveals, they aren’t. 

Since green-energy subsidies creates only a handful of permanent jobs, what’s the “value to the community at large” of energy that’s up to four times as expensive as coal or natural gas and also (for wind and solar) requires backup power for “intermittency issues”?

Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?