U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) launched his gubernatorial campaign yesterday, leading with a flagship energy initiative that would destroy jobs in the state.
“[G]etting Colorado to use 100 percent renewable energy by 2040” is one of Polis’ top three initiatives, the Denver Post reported yesterday. Polis called the initiative one of his “main platform items” during his “virtual announcement” on Reddit, pointing readers to a whitepaper on his campaign website. “I absolutely believe in rigor and data forming public policy,” he said in the same post.
“Projections show that converting to a 100% renewable energy economy in Colorado will create over 49,000 construction jobs and over 21,000 operations jobs,” Polis’ campaign whitepaper claims. A footnote for the assertion cites the Solutions Project, an advocacy group dedicated to “making 100% clean energy a reality” that was co-founded by anti-fracking activist Mark Ruffalo – who has fought to ban oil and natural gas development in Colorado – and Stanford University professor Mark Jacobson.
Jacobson’s research, upon which Polis’ campaign initiative and the Solutions Project are premised, offers “roadmaps” for states (and countries!) to meet their energy needs with an entirely renewable energy portfolio within a few decades. This transition, the Solutions Project claims, would create millions of jobs across the country. But as Energy In Depth has revealed, such a plan would actually cause a net loss of more than 1.2 million long-term jobs – according to Jacobson’s own data.
Last year, Energy In Depth examined data Jacobson originally published on his website and found that transitioning to a renewables-only energy system would actually destroy millions of jobs across the country:
“But buried toward the end of a dense Excel sheet with over 60 tabs, located on a dedicated page within a faculty website, Jacobson quantifies the exact number of job losses by sector from transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy. In transportation, more than 2.4 million men and women would be put out of work. Over 800,000 people working to produce oil and natural gas would lose their jobs. Nearly 90,000 jobs connected to coal mining would be wiped out. All told, more than 3.8 million jobs would be lost, far more than the nearly 2.6 million long-term jobs that Jacobson has estimated would be created.
“In a highlighted column entitled ‘Net Long Term Jobs,’ Jacobson’s table shows a negative 1,284,030.”
Source: Energy In Depth
Hours after Energy In Depth published its analysis on Jacobson’s research, the professor scrubbed his website of that data. When The Daily Caller reporter Mike Bastasch asked Jacobson on Twitter about the missing data, Jacobson compared Bastasch to a Nazi:
Met with broad skepticism, Jacobson’s research was criticized by scientists, environmental experts, and climate activists. Carnegie Mellon University researchers argued that Jacobson and his co-authors “do not present sufficient analysis to demonstrate the technical, economic, and social feasibility of their proposed strategy.” Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory wrote that it would be “dangerously risky to ‘bet the planet’ on a narrow portfolio of favored low-carbon energy technologies.” University of Colorado professor Roger Pielke, Jr. called Jacobson’s plan “magic thinking.” Former National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientist and climate advocate James Hansen compared the idea to “almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.”
Despite the flaws and criticisms of Jacobson’s research, it unsurprisingly found a supporter in Polis, who has long opposed oil and natural gas development in the state – even though the industry supports tens of thousands of jobs in Colorado and delivers billions to the state economy.
In 2014, Polis backed efforts to ban energy development in Colorado, “putting his own money behind a series of possible ballot measures aimed at allowing local communities to ban fracking,” as Fox 31 Denver reported. “I feel like the universe has selected me to be a poster boy for reining in out-of-control fracking,” Polis told The Daily Caller.
The Polis-backed “ban fracking” initiatives were rejected by the business community and local elected officials, including the leaders of the Democratic Party in the state. Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) called them “radical ideas that have no place in our state constitution” and “will kill jobs and damage our state’s economy.” Former Colo. Sen. Mark Udall (D), who was running against current Sen. Cory Gardner (R) at the time, denounced Polis’ anti-energy initiatives:
“Colorado has served as a model for the nation on finding the right balance between protecting our clean air and water, the health of our communities, and safely developing our abundant energy resources. In my view, these proposed ballot initiatives do not strike that balance.
“I believe that Colorado can and must do better, which is why I oppose these one-size-fits-all restrictions and will continue working with all parties — including property owners, energy producers, and lawmakers — to find common ground. That’s the Colorado way.”
Polis eventually dropped his measures in August 2014, but he hinted in 2016 that he might revive his financial support for “ban fracking” ballot initiatives – initiatives that ultimately failed amid controversy regarding forged signatures and a publicity stunt.
Yesterday, Polis told the Denver Post that he “want[s] a Colorado that works for everybody.” One has to wonder whether that includes the working families his chief campaign initiative would put out of work.