Executive summary: Don’t waste your time on the Heritage Foundation’s energy blog, a source of misleading headlines and general conservative disinformation, but little original analysis and even less (unintentional) humor.

Bloggers and print editors look for headlines that fulfill two competing goals:

  1. It needs to grab readers’ attention and make them want to read more.
  2. It needs to deliver the main message:
    • Half or more readers never get beyond the headline, so you’d like them to at least get the key information just by skimming your headlines. If you have sub heads, like newspapers and many blogs but unlike Climate Progress, this is much easier. That’s why my headlines are occasionally quite long.
    • If the headline doesn’t actually match the story content, readers eventually won’t even bother believing the headlines anymore.
    • If the headline doesn’t summarize the story, then readers have to guess what the story is about, and that wears thin quickly. That was a problem with NRDC’s Switchboard blog for a while, but they fixed it.

That is my long introduction into Heritage’s Energy and Environment blog, which is unusual in that the front page is nothing but screaming headlines, nothing but this sort of thing (except in a much bigger font):

  • The Left’s Big Deficit, Less Energy Plan for Millions of Low Paying Entry-Level Jobs
  • Is There No End to Cap and Trade’s Failure?
  • Oh My God, They Admitted It

You get the picture. The first story is their response to the multiple debunkings of their lame attack on the Center for American Progress’s Green Recovery analysis. Except, of course, that they don’t respond to a single point in my debunking (see “We’re going to need a mental bailout, too“). As for the Heritage headline, it is conservatives like President Bush following policies recommended by Heritage that eliminated Clinton’s huge surplus and gave us a Big Deficit. Obviously, the goal of any rational energy plan is to help people to use Less Energy through energy-efficiency. And the green recovery jobs cover the spectrum from Joe-the-Plumber/electrician/contractor type jobs installing solar hot water systems or insulation to high-tech manufacturing jobs for wind, solar, and efficient appliances. So I’m scoring this Heritage headline 0, Reality, 3.

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The second story is about Europe’s cap-and-trade system. The price of carbon permits dropped suddenly because of the global economic recession. Duh! If industrial activity drops sharply, then Europe’s total carbon emissions drop all by themselves, so the demand for permits to emit carbon dioxide must drop, and hence their price. Heritage is not only shocked by standard high school economics, they absurdly use this natural market reaction to call the system a “failure.” I’m scoring this Heritage headline 0, Reality, 2. (Note: This particular anti-cap meme has some legs in the MSM, so I’ll blog on it in later in more detail.)

It’s the third headline that really grabbed my attention. I thought, wow, this must be huge news. Who are “they,” and what have they admitted? Scientists admit global warming is a hoax after all? American Idol judges admit the whole thing is fixed? Not quite that big:

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The environmental left spews so many lies it is difficult picking out which is the most pernicious. But considering how the economy is everyone’s number one concern right now, the left’s promise to save the economy with “green collar jobs” is definitely the most salient one out there right now.

The lie goes something like this: “The Obama-Biden comprehensive New Energy for America plan will help create five million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future.” Obama’s plan to build “a clean energy future” reads an awful lot like the union/enviro backed Apollo Alliance plan to “build America’s 21st century clean energy economy” [PDF] and create “5 million jobs.” The only difference is that while Obama says he can create 5 million new “green collar jobs” with just $150 billion, The Apollo Alliance says it will take $500 billion to create the same 5 million jobs.

When asked to explain the discrepancy why Obama claims he can create the same 5 million jobs with $350 billion less money, Apollo Alliance co-director (and self pro-claimed coiner of the “green collar jobs” term) Kate Gordon told the Wall Street Journal, “Honestly, it’s just to inspire people.

Got that? The enviro/left is openly admitting that all of their green collar jobs numbers have no relation to reality and are only spewed to “inspire people.”

Yes, the “they” who admitted “it” is one single person, Kate Gordon, who, as turns out was quoted incorrectly. While Heritage apparently believes pretty much everything that appears in the Wall Street Journal, the rest of us actually go directly to the source.

I was quite confident that Kate Gordon did not say what the WSJ said she did and queried her. Indeed, in writing its Wednesday post, Heritage might have bothered to check Apollo’s blog, which on Monday posted, “Five Million Green-Collar Jobs: Inspiring and Accurate” explaining the apparent discrepancy and where the WSJ made its mistake. I’m scoring this Heritage headline 0, Reality, 2.

I’m going to end this post by just reprinting the Apollo post, but let me first repeat that the Heritage blog is obviously not worth your time. Certainly I need to take in as much of the blogosphere as I can — like a movie reviewer who needs to see Saw V or The Love Guru. But part of my job is to save you time. Even if you think you need to keep up with the disinformation the other side is spreading, the Heritage blog has misleading headlines and humorlous content with remarkably little original analysis given that it is perhaps the premier conservative think tank in the country.

Here is what they Kate Gordon really admitted knows:

If you’ve spent time looking at the In The News Feature on the Apollo Web site you’ll see how much care and time we take with the media to make the case for the clean energy, good jobs economy. We know the reach and influence of the journalists and broadcasters and editors who are interested in our expertise and perspective. We prepare diligently so that every interview adds value to the nation’s progress in achieving a clean energy economy, and to our own work.

Last Friday, though, we encountered some rare turbulence. The Wall Street Journal, in an article about clean energy investments and green-collar jobs incorrectly asserted that varying job creation estimates are “squishy.” I was surprised by a quote attributed to me that implied that Apollo’s five million job number is “just to inspire people.” Nor was I alone. My colleagues at the Center for American Progress also were concerned.

Well, the projection of five million green-collar jobs is accurate and inspiring. It is inspiring to think of a federal investment strategy that can catalyze the American economy by creating new demand for clean energy and energy efficiency systems. It is inspiring to think about the investments in job training to help scale up America’s workforce to prepare to make, install, and maintain these products. It is truly awe-inspiring to think of the millions of Americans that can be put to work all over this country, in a huge range of occupations, moving America toward a clean energy future.

But it is not just inspiring. It is accurate. In The New Apollo Program, we argue for a $50 billion annual investment program over ten years. It is an investment in all sectors of the American economy: from green construction to energy efficiency retrofits; from our transportation system to our power grid; from our existing factories to cutting-edge research, development and deployment opportunities. Based on a comprehensive study on a very similar set of proposals that was done for Apollo in 2004 by economist and Nobel laureate M. Ray Perryman, this level of federal investment will create or retain at least five million jobs in America. Most of these are on-site construction, manufacturing, and transportation jobs — jobs in industries that tend to pay a family supporting wage and benefits, and that have anchored America’s middle class for generations.

Dr. Perryman’s data show also that the economic benefits of the Apollo investment strategy don’t stop at on site jobs. These investments will create millions more jobs in associated industries, like the trucking companies moving the wind turbines, the lawyers and accountants helping broker deals between new clean energy businesses, or even the small restaurants and stores catering to the linemen and women upgrading the transmission grid in countless towns across the country.

Other studies, such as the “Green Recovery” paper recently released by the Center for American Progress, also include the positive economic impact created by, for instance, lower energy bills as a result of more clean energy options. Lower bills equal more money in consumers’ pockets, equal more spending in the local economy, equal more jobs.

These “indirect” jobs are included in President-elect Obama’s green jobs calculations, explaining why he comes to the five million job number with a lower initial investment. The different numbers are by no means “squishy.” They are the result of different initial assumptions, leading to different results.

What is not in doubt is that clean energy policies and investments create jobs. Just look at Newton, Iowa, where laid off Whirlpool employees are now making wind turbine blades for General Electric. Or Sacramento, California where a shuttered nuclear plant is now home to a solar array capable of generating as much power as the plant ever did. (Link to our map.)

At Apollo, we are awestruck every day by stories like these, and by the sheer potential scale of the new green economy — an economy that can and should create millions of high-quality, decent jobs for hardworking Americans who want to make a decent wage while also fighting back global warming.

Darn right we’re inspired. Aren’t you?

I am!

This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.