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Today’s Green Jobs Failure: The National Renewable Energy Lab

Two of Colorado’s congressmen have offered dramatically different opinions of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which is located in Golden, Colorado.  Republican Doug Lamborn wants to eliminate the Energy Department programs that fund it, saying they have “failed to live up to their supposed potential.” 

Democrat Ed Perlmutter, who represents the district that includes Golden, declared through a spokeswoman in June that “NREL is a crown jewel in the world of renewable energy” that is “providing a lot of jobs.”

Well, now it’s about to provide 100 to 150 fewer jobs, as reported by the Denver Post:

In both a symbolic and real-world blow to green energy development and the jobs renewable industries are meant to create, the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden announced significant job cuts Monday.

The Golden lab, which saw tremendous investment as part of President Barack Obama’s stimulus efforts, said it will use voluntary buyouts to cut 100 to 150 jobs.

How “tremendous” was that investment?  The Daily Caller has some numbers for us:

Amy Oliver of Colorado’s conservative Independence Institute said one way to look at these potential “green jobs” shortcomings is that the NREL is exaggerating its claims. Oliver told The Daily Caller that the government-funded lab has seen a surge in government funding in recent years.

“Their funding for 2008 was $328 million,” Oliver said in a phone interview. “In 2010 it was $536.5 million. They’ve had a 64 percent increase in their funding during the Obama administration.

(Emphasis mine.)  Wow, a 64 percent increase in funding, followed by 10% job cuts – resulting, we are told by NREL spokesman Bob Noun, on “the gridlocked U.S. Congress.”  Presumably the gridlock is choking off that wonderful taxpayer funding, which included $200 million in grants from the first Obama “stimulus” plan.

Where did that $200 million go?  Sorry, you’re not allowed to know that.  As Matt Boyle of the Daily Caller explains:

Because NREL is technically a private non-profit organization, and not a governmental agency, its financial and operational records aren’t public records. The lab is also exempt from compliance with the Freedom of Information Act and state and local open-records laws.

Bummer.  What does Rep. Perlmutter have to say about these unfortunate developments at his job-creating green energy crown jewel?  He expresses some concerns that prove a point I’ve long been making about the lasting economic damage from these fabulously expensive “green jobs” disasters.  From the Denver Post:

“Our concern is that the cuts just don’t affect the lab,” said Perlmutter spokeswoman Leslie Oliver. “It affects companies like Primestar (Solar) and Vestas that have located here in part because of links to NREL.”

Oliver said the solar and wind energy companies attract numerous related businesses and jobs to the area and that other big green energy players often credit the proximity to NREL as a key factor in locating to Colorado.

Others said the news was expected, given the current Washington climate.

At the Governor’s Energy Office, director TJ Deora said the goal now is to focus on moving the public researchers into the private marketplace.

“We love having the jobs here in Colorado,” Deora said. “But this was anticipated,” now that the stimulus money is winding down.

When a phantom “market” created by government compulsion implodes, it damages private enterprises that treated the static of “stimulus” billions as legitimate economic data.  When the stimulus runs out, private businesses find themselves staring at deficit craters where their “customers” used to be.  The cumulative effect of black holes caused by the end of “stimulus” from our beyond-bankrupt government will be horrible.  Most of those who find themselves dumped into Barack Obama’s unemployment lines won’t be getting buyouts, like the ex-employees of the NREL.

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Written By

John Hayward began his blogging career as a guest writer at Hot Air under the pen name "Doctor Zero," producing a collection of essays entitled Doctor Zero: Year One. He is a great admirer of free-market thinkers such as Arthur Laffer, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell. He writes both political and cultural commentary, including book and movie reviews. An avid fan of horror and fantasy fiction, he has produced an e-book collection of short horror stories entitled Persistent Dread. John is a former staff writer for Human Events. He is a regular guest on the Rusty Humphries radio show, and has appeared on numerous other local and national radio programs, including G. Gordon Liddy, BattleLine, and Dennis Miller.

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