Case Study: The “Spanish Study” on Green Jobs and Koch Industries

Page - March 29, 2010
Since the creation of new clean energy jobs is a critical benefit of climate and energy policy, opponents have focused on discrediting ‘green’ jobs. A report appeared on this subject in spring of 2009 called the "Study of the effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy sources" by Gabriel Calzada Alvarez, an economics professor at King Juan Carlos University in Madrid. According to Dr. Alvarez’s study, Spain’s policy commitments to renewable energy development had actually cost Spain jobs — 2.2 jobs lost for each clean energy job created.

The study became a favorite talking point for opponents of clean energy, who seized on the study when it was released in March, coinciding with the House Energy and Commerce Committee discussions on the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES). The study was trumpeted by opposition groups, covered by reporters, and repeated in congressional testimony by US Representatives opposed to clean energy policy and climate mitigation measures.

Despite the fact that the conclusions and methodology of the study by Alvarez have been repeatedly proven unsupportable  (most recently by the US's own National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in addition to ministers with the Spanish government and independent experts), the 'study' continues to be trumpeted. The study recently made its way into fact sheets circulated by clean energy opposition group Americans for Prosperity, which is founded and chaired by David Koch.

Where did the "Spanish study" come from, and who promoted it? Several organizations and individuals - each supported through the Koch web - have played key roles in supporting, disseminating and promoting the research.

  • March 2009: The Institute for Energy Research (IER) supported and disseminated the "Spanish study," released in March of 2009.
  • April 2009: Patrick Michaels was an early commenter on the study, saying in April 2009 that he wasn't surprised by the findings and that the U.S. should expect similar results from stimulus funding on renewable energy.
  • July 2009: Americans for Prosperity's Colorado chapter promoted the study through its blog.  
  • July 2009: Americans for Prosperity's policy director Phil Kerpen repeated the study's findings in July 2009 testimony  to the Western Caucuses Bicameral Hearing on Cap & Trade.
  • August 2009: American Energy Alliance (AEA), IER's advocacy arm, incorporated the report's findings into fact sheets that it disseminated  during its "American Energy Express" bus tour which started in August 2009.
  • September 2009: Americans for Prosperity's Texas  chapter posted comments repeating the study's faulty conclusions.
  • September 2009: Americans for Prosperity's policy director Phil Kerpen repeated the study's findings in online comments.

See also PolluterWatch profiles of Koch IndustriesCharles Koch and David Koch.