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Be wary in pursuit of green jobs

In this time of great economic difficulty, it should not be a surprise to see so many eyes turning to the possibility of jobs in the renewable energy field for the High Desert’s salvation.
The constant sun, the vast open spaces and the frequent strong winds make the Mojave Desert an ideal location for wind and solar projects, as the number of proposals submitted to the Bureau of Land Management shows.

But while the Obama administration and a number of like-minded folks have been promoting these projects quite hard, we have been warning readers through editorials that there are significant problems in this green program. The way the federal government has been approaching it is — ironically — not sustainable.

As the federal government ramps up its subsidization of green energy projects, other countries in Europe like Spain have had to scale back. Federal subsidies to solar projects in Spain have been slashed, killing development and costing jobs.

Right here in California, the Public Utilities Commission has suspended rebates for solar panel installations by government and nonprofit groups. As noted in an editorial earlier this week, they are running out of money for the program.

We keep bringing these issues up because we want Barstow residents to be cautious about running out and chasing jobs that might not have a life span beyond a year or two. The big Brightsource solar project in Ivanpah is relying on more than $1 billion in federal loans to pay for its construction. What happens if that loan gets slashed?

Such concerns are why, when we heard that Barstow Community College was offering a program (also heavily subsidized) for green job training, it was important to ask whether the training would be useful in other fields should this green bubble burst.

We aren’t going to tell residents not to pursue these jobs. After all, a job that lasts only a year or two is better than none at all. We do, however, strongly urge residents to keep their eyes open to the real risks of work in this field and not just blindly accept all the politically motivated green cheerleading.


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