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Green Jobs Myths

Green Jobs Myths

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Published by: editorial.online on May 04, 2009
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The iron and steel industries are crucial industrial sectors, therefore “greening” jobs in these

areas is a high priority for green jobs advocates.351

If one only read the green jobs literature, you

would be left with a strong sense that these are remarkably energy-inefficient industries. The

reality is that iron and steel production has become much more energy-efficient without the sort

of programs advocated by green jobs proponents. For example, the amount of energy consumed

per ton of U.S. produced steel declined by over 60 percent from 1980 to 2006, and 29 percent

349

Bureau of the Census, U.S. Dep’t of Commerce, HISTORICALSTATISTICS OF THE UNITEDSTATES:COLONIAL TIMES TO 1970

(1976); EIAANNUAL,supranote 183; Fouquet & Pearson, supranote 347;Bureau of Econ. Affairs, U.S. Dep’t of Commerce,

All NIPA Tables, http://www.bea.gov/national/nipaweb/SelectTable.asp (follow “Table 1.2.4. Price Indexes for Gross Domestic

Product by Major Type of Product (A) (Q)” hyperlink) (last visited Feb. 22, 2009).

350

1900 figure is taken from 1902 data and calculated from Department of Commerce data. Bureau of the Census, supra note

349, at 211, 827; EIAANNUAL,supranote 183; Bureau of Econ. Affairs, supra note 349.

351

UNEP, supranote 5, at 15 (“making steel mills greener and more competitive is a must for job retention.”); 49 (higher energy

and materials productivity is “particularly critical” in industries like steel that consume a great deal of energy and natural

resources.)

Green Jobs Myths

Page 67

from 1990 to 2006.352

These improvements were driven by the need to stay competitive in a

tough business environment, which led to restructuring of the industry through the bankruptcies

in the 1990s and early 2000s, closure of older and inefficient operations, and increases in the

proportion of scrap iron and steel recycled via electric arc furnaces.353

Not reflected in Figure 4

is the fact that today’s steels are thinner and stronger, which means that for the average

application, the decline in energy intensity is even greater than reflected on the figure.

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