Without The Energy Revolution, Job Growth Would Drag

BY STEPHEN MOORE AND KATHLEEN HARTNETT WHITE

Job growth is finally picking up, as we all know from bullish employment reports in January and February. But part of the jobs story isn’t told: How much of the faster pace of hiring is a result of low energy prices in America relative to our international competitors.

The shale oil and gas revolution is behind the fall in gasoline and electricity prices, which in turn is unleashing a comeback in many industries. Consider the U.S. manufacturing boom, which can be seen in the revival of factories selling everything from plastics, cars and chemicals to potato and micro chips.

The turnaround has little to do with government programs or subsidies. A major springboard is the lowest-in-the-world energy prices found here in America. As the nearby table shows, the U.S. now has the lowest electricity prices of any of our major industrial competitors, with the exception of South Korea.

The differential is gigantic compared to Europe, with our power costs for industry anywhere from one-half to one-fifth those of producers in Euroland.

Shale gas drilling technologies have lowered the cost of natural gas from more than $12 per thousand cubic feet in 2008 to around $4.50 now. Natural gas at these low prices is gradually replacing the use of coal as the No. 1 source of electricity production in America — though coal remains a cheap and major source of electricity production as well.

This also explains how the U.S. has reduced its carbon emissions more than any other nation over the eight-year period ending in 2013.

Now for the flip side of the story — one of energy-policy dimwittedness. Take a look at how much of Europe has lost competitiveness as its nations have bought into the green energy fad over the last decade. “Go green” in practice means go expensive. The green blunder has sent electric power costs soaring relative to the U.S.

Nowhere is the damage more visible than in Germany. In 2005, the Germans passed the most aggressive renewable energy law of any country. The short-term goal is 30% to 50% reliance on renewables with an eventual goal of 80% over the next several decades.

The process of force-feeding industry and households green energy has increased utility costs and in some cases crippled manufacturing production. In 2013, the headline of Deutsche Wells, a top media outlet in Berlin, was: “High Energy Costs Drive German Firms to U.S.

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