We need jobs. Not jobs for kids cleaning school bathrooms as Newt Gingrich proposes, but real jobs where breadwinners can earn enough to support their families and maybe a bit more so they can enjoy an occasional vacation or recreational activity. But is the creation of any job, regardless of its consequences, necessarily good for America?
In their never-ending quest for outrageous profits, the dirty energy industry is conducting a full-court press to expand a process that produces tons of environmental waste and pollutes our drinking water.
Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” involves pumping tons of liquid into the ground at high pressure in order to extract natural gas. That liquid contains toxic components and eventually finds itself into our drinking water.
The argument that the energy industry uses is that by allowing the fracking process, it will create jobs. A report, recently issued by an industry-sponsored organization, touts the number of jobs that would be created while ignoring the impact on the environment, increased health costs, and more effective alternative energy.
This approach is like saying that one solution to the jobs problem is to legalize prostitution. Like energy, the demand is certainly there, and it would create jobs for thousands of men and women who wish to enter the world’s oldest profession. I’m sure an industry-sponsored study would tout the number of jobs that would be created while ignoring the impact of increased sexually-transmitted disease and the inevitable break-ups of nuclear families.
There’s a better way to create jobs and meet our energy demands. The age of clean, renewable energy is here, and we need to ensure that our energy investment dollars are shifted from the dirty fuel industry. Today, the life cycle cost per kilowatt-hour of solar energy is cheaper than nuclear, and the break-even point for wind-generated energy is approaching quickly.
In New Jersey, alone, there are 25,000 jobs today in the solar renewable market even without a significant indigenous solar panel manufacturing capability. The ongoing thrust to capitalize on offshore wind power will create thousands more new jobs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and its concomitant health costs significantly.
So when an industry group touts jobs as a reason to adopt a dirty policy, whether it is fracking or prostitution, take it with a grain of salt (or carbon). There are better ways to meet our needs.