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Be an Arlington County Board Member, See the World

On Sunday, the Arlington Sun Gazette reported that Arlington “County Board Chairman Barbara Favola said a recent trip to Europe gave her new perspectives on how governments can make efforts to promote energy efficiency.” The Sun Gazette also pointed out that “private sources, not government sources,” paid for the trip although it was organized by the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, a government entity. Nor is there any indication why the “private sources” are being so benevolent. Is it possible the private sources will target some so-called “green subsidies?”

Rather than a junket to Europe, Ms. Favola should have read Tom Pyle’s December 2, 2009 column in the Washington Examiner. In the column, Pyle wrote about the experience of Spain, Denmark, and Germany, specifically:

“Policymakers in Washington often cite Europe’s experience with “green jobs” as a blueprint to follow. The Institute for Energy Research (IER) has conducted extensive research to examine three of the most frequently referenced countries - Spain, Denmark and Germany. In each case, massive taxpayer subsidies created few jobs, but at a very high price.

“Since 2000, Spain has committed more than $750,000 for each “green job" it’s created. In Denmark, each wind energy related job cost Danish taxpayers between $90,000 and $140,000.

“The German government has directed $240,000 in public funds per solar power worker.

“But are these jobs sustainable without the implicit backing of the government?

"Spain scaled back its subsidies for solar energy and the entire industry collapsed. The study also found that only one in 10 "green jobs" were permanent.

“In Germany, the central government is now undergoing a complete review of renewable energy subsidies based on their skyrocketing price tag and the financial commitment required to sustain its solar industry.”

CNSNews.com reports today that taxpayer-funded wind farms have prompted bipartisan concerns in Congress because the 2,000 to 3,000 jobs they may create would be in China. And earlier this month, the German magazine Der Spiegel Online questioned whether the “massive amounts of taxpayer money invested in renewable energies in Germany has been “universally good.” 

With Arlington County taxpayers now being told of “budget gaps” in next year's budget in no uncertain terms, taxpayers may question  the timing of the chairman's trip to Europe. Taxpayers will will need to closely watch the press releases flying out of the Courthouse that talk of how alternative energy will save taxpayers money. It might, but will taxpayer subsidies be larger than the savings?

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