As Congress tries to go around President Obama to approve Canada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, we continue to hear about jobs, jobs, jobs.
If members of Congress are so concerned about jobs, why in the world are they willing to bet our future on the Canadian pipeline while refusing to support crucial, overdue policies that will expand clean energy that's homegrown right here in the USA?
Consider the numbers:
Keystone XL will create about 35 full-time jobs and 15 temporary jobs, according to the U.S. State Department's analysis. Granted, about 1,950 construction jobs will be created, but those jobs -- while important -- disappear after the pipe goes in the ground.
Clean energy companies, meanwhile, announced more than 18,000 jobs in more than 20 states in just the last three months alone, according to the latest report from my organization, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2). See the full report here.
In other words, nine times as many jobs were announced by energy efficiency, solar, wind, biofuel and other companies in the USA -- in just the last three months alone.
"Understand what this project is: It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else. It doesn't have an impact on U.S. gas prices," he said.
"If my Republican friends really want to focus on what's good for the American people in terms of job creation and lower energy costs, we should be engaging in a conversation about what are we doing to produce even more homegrown energy. I'm happy to have that conversation," Obama said.
Here's the craziest part: While Congress mires itself in the politics surrounding Keystone, it continues to ignore critical tax policies that could lead to exponentially more American-made jobs in renewables and energy efficiency.
The Production Tax Credit (PTC), which gives wind energy generators a miniscule 2.3 cent tax credit for every kilowatt hour of energy they produce, expired at the end of last year, for instance. As a result, wind companies laid-off thousands of workers and the industry is stalled in uncertainty.
Tax credits for homeowners who install better windows and make other energy efficiency improvements are disappearing too. So are credits for energy-efficient new homes; for commercial buildings; for producers of biofuels; for manufacturers of energy- efficient appliances and for a laundry-list of other clean energy and energy efficiency provisions.
All of these are bundled up in legislation called the EXPIRE Act (Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency Act) that sits languishing in Congress with the clock ticking and the future of clean energy in America hanging in the balance.
Yes, these tax credits for clean energy come with a cost.
They also come with billions in savings through energy efficiency. They come with the potential of tens of thousands of new clean energy jobs. And they come with the economic and national security benefits from making clean, renewable energy right here at home.
Contrast that with the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
As E2 wrote in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, signed by about 250 businesspeople and others across America, the Keystone pipeline would saddle our economy with more than an estimated $100 billion in costs to address carbon pollution problems -- weather disasters, health complications, etc. -- that come with increasing our dependence on dirty tar sands oil.
It would undermine the economic growth and the jobs that are being created by the still-nascent clean energy industry. And it would send the wrong market signals to investment markets about the future of America's energy and economy.
Despite all this, members of Congress remains frenetically focused on those 35 full-time Keystone XL jobs.
Meanwhile, they continue to ignore the EXPIRE Act. They continue to leave those 18,000 new clean energy jobs announced in the third quarter of this year - and the tens of thousands of potential new clean energy jobs that we could create here in the USA - hanging in the balance.
That's not good for economy. It's not good for the environment. And it's not good for America.