$14,650 per apartment in cash for caulking plan! And it gets worse.
Leave it to the left to turn something as sensible as insulating your house into a big-government organized-labor boondoggle.
Dismal reports from Spain and other European countries about investing public funds in solar and wind power manufacturing seem to have shifted attention lately toward the humble goal of “weatherization” — making our buildings more efficient by replacing windows, installing insulation and caulking up leaks, and by “retrofitting” — buying new efficient furnaces and appliances for the deserving disadvantaged.
President Obama’s proposed $6 billion program known as HOMESTAR, a.k.a. Cash for Caulkers, is only one of many energy efficiency initiatives taking place on federal, state and municipal levels. To cite a few of many examples:
- The City of Boston announced “the nation’s largest public housing energy performance contract”–$63 million for an energy upgrade at 4,300 Boston Housing Authority apartment buildings. That works out to $14,650 per apartment.
- Boston’s spending comes on top of a State of Massachusetts $1.4 billion Energy Efficiency plan signed by Gov. Patrick last November. The plan was in the news this week with the release of an Apollo Alliance report titled Energy Efficiency Employment in Massachusetts.
- The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides an additional $220 million to the Massachusetts Weatherization Assistance Program.
- Cambridge, Massachusetts announced last week the inauguration of a Green Jobs program to train low-income people in the weatherization trade.
Elsewhere around the country:
- Clean Energy Works, a project of Green for All and the Apollo Alliance in Portland Oregon, aims to retrofit 100,000 qualifying homes. A budget is not offered, but at Boston rates, this would cost $14.6 billion.
- Last September the New York State Green Jobs-Green New York Act (where do they come up with these names?) aims to retrofit one million houses and businesses in the next five years, with money raised by selling carbon offsets.
So, one might ask, what’s the problem? It’s foolish to waste energy by heating or cooling the outdoors. Supporters claim that the money invested up front will save money in the long run. Everybody wins. In my own house, I’ve followed this sane policy by installing insulation and a modern gas-fired furnace in order to reduce my heating bills. Furthermore, if we must concede ground to aggressive green advocates and their phobia about greenhouse gases, retrofitting existing buildings is far and away the most cost-effective no-regrets means of reducing CO2 emissions. Better spend money to upgrade the nation’s buildings than give away ineffective solar panels that will be worthless in a decade or two.
The new weatherization schemes, however, are about much more than energy efficiency. As the name Green Jobs implies, the movement is both a green initiative and a government-run jobs program. It has brought together a strange coalition of environmental groups, labor unions and businesses hoping to profit in green ventures.
One leading coalition, the Apollo Alliance, co-founded by President Obama’s former Green Jobs Czar Van Jones, is advocating for an “investment” of $500 billion in green jobs. Their board of directors offers a look at the cast of characters:
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- Green for All (also co-founded by Van Jones)
- United Steelworkers of America
- Service Employment International Union (SEIU)
- Laborers International Union of North America
- Pacific Gas & Electric
- Center for American Progress
- Sierra Club
- Google’s division for Climate Change and Energy Initiatives
Apollo’s Massachusetts energy study was produced in collaboration with its local affiliate, the Green Justice Coalition, and Community Labor United. The Steering Committee of Green Justice includes 19 local groups, including carpenters’ and painters’ unions, the Coalition for Social Justice and New England United for Justice (formerly ACORN). The CLU board is similarly made up of executives from SEIU, other labor unions and ACORN.
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