This Is How Obama Is Going To Reward Veterans … With Solar Industry Jobs
Thank you for your service, here’s a job in the solar industry. That’s basically a major plank of President Obama’s new jobs scheme to boost green energy jobs and employ veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The White House announced Friday a plan to train 75,000 workers for the solar industry, some of whom will be veterans, as part of the administration’s United Nations pledge to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025. Obama is increasing his previous goal of 50,000 solar workers by 2020 and partnering with community colleges to train workers.
Obama announced his plan at Hill Air Force Base in Utah — one of 10 U.S. bases launching the “Solar Ready Vets” program to train solar workers. The White House says the program is “based on the specific needs of high-growth solar employers, is tailored to build on the technician skills that veterans have acquired through their service, and incorporates work-based learning strategies.”
“Service members will learn how to size and install solar panels, connect electricity to the grid, and interpret and comply with local building codes,” according to the White House. “This accelerated training will prepare them for careers in the solar industry as installers, sales representatives, system inspectors, and other solar-related occupations.”
The White House has been touting the solar industry for years, despite huge government-backed failures like Solyndra and Abound Solar. The administration said the booming solar industry needs jobs as it adds more panels.
The Obama administration has lots programs pushing solar energy — more than 345 programs, according to a 2012 GAO report. These programs, coupled with state laws and mandates, have caused solar power to boom in recent years.
Obama, however, has been less successful in the past with green jobs programs. Some of these jobs programs have gotten people employed, but at a huge cost to taxpayers, while others have simply floundered.
During Obama’s 2012 campaign, he promised to create 5 million green jobs. The Labor Department reported in March 2013 only 3.1 million people employed in green jobs nationwide — since then the agency has not done reports on green jobs.
But even those green jobs were questionable. House Republicans called out the Obama administration in 2013 for simply reclassifying traditional jobs like garbage men or lobbyists as “green.”
“It’s about politics. It’s always been about politics,” said California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa. “If you work at the Salvation Army, that’s a green job.” Issa found that oil lobbyists, bus drivers, garbage men, bicycle shop employees and used-record store clerks were counted by the administration as having green jobs.
A year earlier it was reported that a $500 million Labor Department jobs package — funded by the 2009 stimulus — found that only 31,000 people were tained which was 38 percent of the program’s goal. Of those who got training, only 12,000 were able to hold their green jobs for longer than six months.
Green energy loan guarantees handed out by the Obama administration during his first term were also attacked by Republicans for delivering disappointing results. The free-market Institute for Energy Research found that the Department of Energy spent $26 billion since 2009 on green energy loans, only to create 2,308 permanent jobs — a cost $11.25 million per job to taxpayers.
More recently, an EPA environmental jobs program that gives millions of dollars to nonprofits every year to train “unemployed and underemployed, including veterans, minority, and predominantly low income individuals” to work in the environmental field.
These jobs have a starting wage of $14 an hour and, the EPA says, will “help provide an opportunity for local residents to secure careers that make a visible impact cleaning up their neighborhoods, creating a locally skilled workforce.” Program graduates go on to work in “recycling, brownfields assessment and cleanup, wastewater treatment, stormwater management, emergency response, oil spill cleanup, solar installation, and Superfund site remediation.”
Last year, the EPA said it funded 237 local jobs programs to the tune of $50 million, training 12,800 people. But only 9,100 of those people got green jobs — a cost of $5,500 per job for taxpayers.
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