Outsourcing America’s Stimulus Jobs
In lieu of a recent report that found that the vast majority of Recovery Act funds made available for wind energy projects are being used primarily to create jobs overseas, a group of four Democratic Senators is asking the Treasury Department to issue a moratorium on awarding grants until legislation can be written to rectify the problem.
In a letter sent to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner Tuesday, Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA) and John Tester (D-MT) said that taxpayer dollars designed to boost the struggling American economy should not be used to create jobs overseas.
“Companies located in New York, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere across the United States are fully capable of manufacturing the range of clean-energy components, and U.S. wind farms and other clean-energy projects financed with stimulus money should be buying American-built parts,” the letter reads.
The letter comes on the heels of a report by the Investigative Reporting Workshop and ABC News, which found that eight of every $10 spent on wind energy projects through the stimulus package went to a foreign company. Total recovery funds spent on wind energy projects total nearly $2 billion.
The report estimates stimulus funding for wind projects have created roughly 6,000 manufacturing jobs overseas and just hundreds in America. Thus far, the Recovery Act has paid to create 1,807 wind turbines to fuel American homes, businesses, schools and other buildings. Just 588 of those were manufactured domestically, according to the report.
At a press conference Wednesday, the Senators pointed to a specific wind farm project in West Texas that is seeking an award of $450 million in stimulus funds for a $1.5 billion project. According to Schumer, the Texas project would create around 3,000 Chinese jobs and just 300 American jobs.
“The goal of the stimulus is to strengthen the American Economy, and that means creating jobs here in the U.S. not in China,” he said.
The group of Senators announced Wednesday that they plan to rewrite the grant program to ensure that only projects utilizing mostly American-made materials are eligible. Somewhat like the controversial “buy American” provision in the stimulus package, the proposed American Renewable Energy Job Act would extend the domestic procurement policy to any renewable energy project that receives stimulus funds, whether the project is publicly or privately funded.
“The purpose of the Recovery Act was to jump-start the U.S. economy to create and save jobs – American jobs,” the letter reads.