The Environmental Protection Agency has handed out $3.6 million to 18 different community organizations across the country to train college graduates, the unemployed, low-income people and others to take on green jobs.
The agency’s Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) hands out millions of dollars every year to local non-profits who then use the money to teach the “unemployed and under-employed, including veterans, minority, and predominately low income individuals” skills they need to work in the environmental field.
Green jobs have a starting hourly wage of $14 per hour, according to the EPA. The agency says these grants 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.”
Graduates from the green jobs training program can go work in a variety of fields, the agency says, listing “recycling, brownfields assessment and cleanup, wastewater treatment, stormwater management, emergency response, oil spill cleanup, solar installation, and Superfund site remediation” as just some of the options graduates have.
To date, the EPA has funded 237 jobs training programs grants totalling more than $50 million to train 12,800 people how to work in the green industry. Of those trained, about 9,100 obtained green jobs — a 71 percent success rate at a cost of $5,500 in taxpayer funds per job.
“A key aspect of the success of the program is the partnership between grantees and the private sector to design curricula based on local markets with an eye toward hiring graduates, which is why there is a 71 percent placement rate,” said EPA administrator Gina McCarthy.
“We link our investment in communities with brownfields to enable residents from lower income communities that surround many of these sites with training opportunities,” McCarthy added.
For example, the Alaska Forum was given $200,000 to train “18 students, place all 18 graduates in environmental jobs.” The city of Camden, Arkansas was given $200,000 to train 45 students and “place 36 graduates in environmental jobs, and track graduates for one year.”
President Obama recently brought green jobs back into the public debate by promising to work with community colleges to train 50,000 workers for the solar industry. Obama made his announcement as part of his effort to push more solar power in his figt against global warming.
“We’ve got public banks like Connecticut’s Green Bank and private banks like Goldman Sachs ready to invest billions of dollars in renewable energy,” Obama said last week. “The Treasury Department and the IRS are making it easier for renewable energy companies to operate and attract investment. And we’re going to support training programs at community colleges across the country that will help 50,000 workers earn the skills that solar companies are looking for right now.”
Obama avoided the topic of green jobs for a while after the high-profile failures of several government-backed green energy companies, like Solyndra and Abound Solar. These companies were given preferential government loan guarantees to produce solar panels and create jobs — neither of which worked out well.
“Unfortunately, based on Committee staff’s review of the redacted annual loan reviews for each project, it appears that these job estimates have failed to materialize, in part, due to the aforementioned bankruptcies and the precarious financial positions of certain other projects,” Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote to the Energy Department last April.
Last year the free-market Institute for Energy Research estimated that the Department of Energy spent $26 billion since 2009 on its green energy loan programs to create 2,308 permanent jobs — meaning the cost to taxpayers was $11.25 million per job.
“Clearly, in terms of ‘bang for the buck,” government programs that coddle renewable energy are losers,” according to IER. “In terms of jobs, the losers are the American workers who would otherwise be gainfully employed but for the tremendous waste of taxpayer dollars on the administration’s obsession with “green energy.’”
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