Fox News pushing questionable Spanish study on green jobs


Fox News' Shannon Bream touted a Spanish study on green jobs to cast doubt on President Obama's proposal to fund green energy, without noting criticism of the study or that the study's author is reportedly a founding member of a group "aimed at countering panic connected with global warming."

On April 14, Fox News Supreme Court reporter Shannon Bream cast doubt on President Obama's proposal to fund green energy by touting a Spanish study showing that "for every green job created [in Spain], 2.2 jobs are lost." Fox News host David Asman stated that the study is evidence that "green jobs could actually kill other jobs." However, Bream, who appeared on Fox News' America's Newsroom, Your World, and Special Report to report on the study, identified the study's research director, Gabriel Calzada Álvarez, only as "an economics professor from Spain." She did not note that Calzada is reportedly a founding member of the Prague Network, which, according to Radio Prague, is "an international grouping of institutions aimed at countering panic connected with global warming," or that Calzada is reportedly a fellow at the Centre for the New Europe, an organization that has reportedly received funding from ExxonMobil. Moreover, during her reports on America's Newsroom and Your World, Bream did not note any criticism of the study.

According to the Calzada study:

2. Optimistically treating European Commission partially funded data1, we find that for every renewable energy job that the State manages to finance, Spain's experience cited by President Obama as a model reveals with high confidence, by two different methods, that the U.S. should expect a loss of at least 2.2 jobs on average, or about 9 jobs lost for every 4 created, to which we have to add those jobs that non-subsidized investments with the same resources would have created.

3. Therefore, while it is not possible to directly translate Spain's experience with exactitude to claim that the U.S. would lose at least 6.6 million to 11 million jobs, as a direct consequence were it to actually create 3 to 5 million "green jobs" as promised (in addition to the jobs lost due to the opportunity cost of private capital employed in renewable energy), the study clearly reveals the tendency that the U.S. should expect such an outcome.

In publishing an op-ed by Calzada on February 1, The Washington Times identified him as one of the "founding members of the Prague Network, an international coalition on energy issues chaired by Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic." According to a March 12 report by the Czech News Agency:

[Klaus] said the first steps towards establishment of the network were taken at a recent conference on climate change in New York in which he took part.

Klaus, who challenges environmentalists' opinion that man's activities are behind global warming, said Wednesday the topic of the network will not be a struggle with global warming, but with "alarmism" around global warming.

The conference that Klaus described, the 2009 International Conference on Climate Change, was sponsored by The Heartland Institute, an organization that has received funding from the energy industry. New York Times science correspondent Andrew Revkin described the conference, titled "Global Warming: Was it ever really a crisis?" as a gathering of "self-professed climate skeptics."

Calzada, according to the conference's program, was one of this year's speakers. The program describes him as, among other things, "founder-president of the classical liberal think tank Instituto Juan de Mariana (IJM)," and a "fellow of the Centre for the New Europe." Wall Street Journal reporter Keith Johnson has described both organizations as "libertarian" think tanks. The president of the Centre for the New Europe has acknowledged receiving money from ExxonMobil in 2005, according to a December 7, 2006, article in London's Independent. From The Independent:

In its 2005 report, [the Corporate Europe Observatory] details payments by ExxonMobil to two organisations the International Policy Network, which received $130,000 and the Centre for the New Europe (CNE), which received $50,000.


Such is the concern about ExxonMobil that earlier this year the Royal Society, considered Britain's leading scientific academy, wrote to it asking that it stop funding groups that have "misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence".

Ellen Bisnath, a network spokeswoman, confirmed that the organisation had accepted $130,000 from the oil company. She said: "We are an independent think-tank and we are contributing to the scientific debate on climate change."

CNE's president, Stephen Pollard, said: "We did get a payment in 2005 for a project which had nothing to do with climate change." He said under his leadership CNE was "not in the climate change denial business".

In a statement ExxonMobil said: "Our support extends to a fairly broad array of organisations that research significant domestic and foreign policy issues and promote discussion on issues of direct relevance to the company."

In a March 30 post on The Wall Street Journal's Environmental Capital blog, Johnson noted that Calzada's study "got conservative commentators excited," adding, "National Review's Planet Gore, for instance, notes that following that math, the U.S. could stand to lose at least 6 million jobs if the Obama green-jobs push is successful." But Johnson challenged a key premise of the study, writing:

Now, Spain's job-creation record is far from stellar -- the country has had double-digit unemployment since the restoration of democracy thirty years ago, and today has a 14% jobless rate. Renewable-energy leadership has not been a panacea, as much as the current premier hopes it will pull Spain out of the current crisis.

But the study doesn't actually identify those jobs allegedly destroyed by renewable-energy spending. What the study actually says is that government spending on renewable energy is less than half as efficient at job creation as private-sector spending. Specifically, each green job required on average 571,000 euros, compared with 259,000 euros in "average capital per worker" in the rest of the economy.

So how does that translate into outright job destruction? It's simply a question of opportunity cost, the paper says: "The money spent by the government cannot, once committed to "green jobs", be consumed or invested by private parties and therefore the jobs that would depend on such consumption and investment will disappear or not be created."

On paper, that makes sense. But Spain's support for renewable energy came out of existing tax revenues -- there were no special levies on corporate activity designed to underwrite clean energy.

The money the government has spent on clean energy may have edged out other government spending, but it's hard to see how it could have edged out private-sector spending, especially when the Socialist government there has reduced corporate income-tax rates, most recently this past January.

And just where did that study come from? Professor Gabriel Calzada is the founder and president of the Fundacion Juan de Mariana, a libertarian think tank founded in 2005. He's also a fellow of the Center for New Europe, a Brussels-based libertarian think thank than in recent years apparently accepted funding from Exxon Mobil.

From the April 14 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:

BILL HEMMER (co-host): President Obama is pushing new green jobs to stimulate the economy and get Americans back to work, and in part he's urging people to take look at Spain. Why Spain? Are they doing something right there that we need to copy? Maybe or maybe not.

Shannon Bream live in D.C. Good morning. What's happening in Madrid?

BREAM: Hey, Bill. Well, there's a new study that's out by an economics professor in Spain, and he says, don't look at us, don't copy it in the U.S., because what's happened here has not been a good thing. He says all these great jobs, all of the efforts, have actually been economically counterproductive.

He says, for example, of all the green jobs that we've created here over the last eight or nine years, only one in 10 of them is actually ending up being permanent. He says they also come at a cost of about $774,000 U.S. per job that we try to create. He says so many companies there are getting fed up with it. Many of them are actually moving out of the country, at least part of their operations, because it's just not feasible to stay in Spain, Bill.

HEMMER: So, how could that translate here in the United States? Apply it to what we're trying to do.

BREAM: Well, you mentioned that the president has cited Spain as an example, and the author of the study says, you know, the president has done that quite a bit. He has said that we want to follow the same models and those kinds of things. So he says his research -- translating that into the U.S. -- he says for about every green job we create here in the U.S., he predicts we'll lose 2.2 regular jobs.

He says in the long term, it's not going to be good for us. There are billions in the stimulus package and in the president's proposed 2010 budget that are going to these efforts, so we have to take a close look at what we're doing, and do we want to end up with some of the problems they're seeing in Spain?

HEMMER: OK. All right. Shannon, thank you for that.

From the April 14 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

ASMAN: Green jobs: The government has been pushing them big time, spending billions to create them, but a new study showing green jobs could actually kill other jobs. Our own Shannon Bream is in Washington with more. So how does this work, Shannon?

BREAM: Well, David, an economics professor from Spain is saying that his country's actually been hurt by this big push for green jobs, and he's also predicting the same trouble is coming to the U.S. President Obama's often referenced Spain and some other European countries as models for how to make green industries work, and he's also said the U.S. is being left behind when it comes to green innovation.

But this new study claims it isn't working in Spain. The professor, Gabriel Calzada Álvarez, says for every green job created there, 2.2 jobs are lost. And he's also saying it costs governments and consumers hundreds of thousands of dollars to create each green job. But the study's findings have not exactly ended the debate.

PATRICK MICHAELS (Cato Institute senior fellow) [video clip]: It's an awful lot of money that's being funneled, and if we don't pay for it, I guess we'll probably get some inflation out of it; or else, we could tax people and that will probably cost jobs. Take your pick. You can't get something for nothing.

BRACKEN HENDRICKS (Center for American Progress senior fellow) [video clip]: If we don't move forward in this, we're going to fall behind in a global race for competition for the fastest growing markets in the global economy. This is really important for our long-term competitiveness that we get this right.

BREAM: President Obama has included billions in his proposed 2010 budget specifically for tax incentives and other funding projects for green industries, so now we'll have to wait and see how much of that survives the vetting process on Capitol Hill -- David.

ASMAN: Shannon Bream -- good to see you, Shannon. Thank you.

From the April 14 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:

BAIER: President Obama has often pointed to Spain as a model for a country that has invested heavily in environmentally friendly technology. But now, there is evidence that when it comes to the economy, going green actually cannibalizes the existing workforce. Correspondent Shannon Bream looks at the numbers behind the hype.

[begin video clip]

OBAMA: And pretty soon, we'll see more companies constructing solar panels and workers building wind turbines and car companies manufacturing fuel-efficient cars.

BREAM: President Obama continued to talk up green jobs today as one of the strategies he's focusing on as a means to rev up our economy, while also reasserting America's standing in the global marketplace. Over the last several months, he's made a number of references to how our overseas counterparts are succeeding while the U.S. watches and waits.

OBAMA: Will America watch as the clean energy jobs and industries of the future flourish in countries like Spain, Japan, or Germany?


OBAMA: And think about what's happening in countries like Spain, Germany, and Japan, where they're making real investments in renewable energy.


OBAMA: Spain generates almost 30 percent of its power by harnessing the wind, while we manage less than 1 percent.

BREAM: But a new report out of Spain says that if that country is any indication, Americans shouldn't be depending on green jobs to help the U.S. economy. Professor Gabriel Calzada Álvarez has released a study with startling claims about what's happened in Spain, and what he predicts will play out here.

Calzada says for every green job that's created with the help of government funding, 2.2 regular jobs are lost, and that only one in 10 green jobs winds up being permanent. With billions slated to go toward similar programs here in the U.S., the study is sparking new concerns.

MICHAELS: Well, it's an awful lot of money that's being funneled, and if we don't pay for it, I guess we'll probably get some inflation out of it; or else, we could tax people and that will probably cost jobs. Take your pick. You can't get something for nothing.

BREAM: But critics of the study say it doesn't translate to the U.S. economy, and that the dire predictions are overblown.

HENDRICKS: Well, a lot of the critics have missed the point, acting as if this was sort of all public investment to create government jobs. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's about the private sector, it's about innovation in business, and it's about putting the economy back to work.

[end video clip]

BREAM: When asked about the study today, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said he hadn't read it, but that if it had any merit, the U.S. wouldn't be so busy importing wind turbine parts from Spain in order to meet what he called the demands for renewable energy right here at home -- Bret.

BAIER: OK, Shannon, thank you.

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.