There have been well publicized predictions and forecasts regarding the number of jobs resulting from the American Clean Energy and Security Act recently passed on a narrow vote by the House of Representatives. As with most pieces of sweeping legislation coming out of Washington, divining the cost versus benefit looking into the future is seldom accurate and the further out one predicts the less accurate that prediction is.
The bill has been purported to lead to the production of 1.7 million new green clean energy jobs. This figure is targeted by 2030. It is predicted to be a net job gain, clean energy jobs created less fossil fuel energy jobs lost, but likely it did not take into consideration the millions of periphery jobs to be affected by this legislation. Renewable energy technology costs are forecast to decrease, though some of that forecast is based on the development of technology still unavailable at the present, however it seems certain that in the near future those energy costs will be significantly higher than the current ones we enjoy. With that in mind, it seems likely that many industries, struggling with increasing energy costs in a sluggish economy, will seek to trim expenses and often the largest expense able to be trimmed is payroll. These are not direct energy jobs, but interconnected businesses like construction, durable goods production, food production, restaurants, tourism, etc. This impact needs to be considered when forecasting clean energy job gains.
Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) has even predicted as many as 37 million new jobs by 2030, if we really are aggressive. That seems kind of like arguing that the best way to win the lottery jackpot is to buy more and more tickets. While the potential may be there, the successful outcome seems unlikely.
The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, a proactive renewable energy advocacy group, is much more conservative. It forecasts up to 770,000 new jobs by 2030 and a POTENTIAL savings to American families of $4400.00 per year. Like predicting job growth however, predicting dollar savings so far into the future is equivalent to throwing a dart blindfolded.
It is also important to note that green energy jobs are much less efficient and more labor intensive than current energy technologies. Peter Altman, Grist.org, says that " clean energy investments create 3.2 times as many jobs as fossil fuel investments." It must be presumed that as those green technologies advance that the man hour ratio will drop, further reducing potential job creation.
When looking at broad policy legislation coming from or elected representatives we must always remember that what is promised is seldom what results. By the time the results begin to show clearly, our political leaders will be on to other impactive things and simply dismiss and ignore the folly that we as Americans will have to live with.