Stalled U.S. energy projects hurting job growth

LOS ANGELES Thu Mar 10, 2011 3:13pm EST

A worker assembling a 90kWp DC CPV generating system that uses water to stay cool and track the sun in San Diego, February 9, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Blake

A worker assembling a 90kWp DC CPV generating system that uses water to stay cool and track the sun in San Diego, February 9, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Blake

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - If 351 stalled U.S. energy projects were given the green light, they would create as many as 1.9 million jobs and increase the nation's gross domestic product by $1.1 trillion, according to a study commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The business lobby said on Thursday the report analyzed proposed gas, nuclear, transmission, coal and renewable energy projects that were delayed or canceled due to drawn-out permitting processes, lawsuits, or threats of legal action.

According to the powerful Chamber, the study underscores the "corrosive economic and employment impacts" of what it called "inefficient" regulatory hurdles and related legal disputes.

The study excluded on- and offshore oil projects, which the Chamber said resulted in a conservative analysis.

In total, the projects would generate $577 billion in investment dollars, the study said, acknowledging that not all of the projects would or should be approved.

"Not all of these projects should be approved," Peter Morici, a former chief economist with the U.S. International Trade Commission who reviewed the study, said at a press briefing. "But the current process as I understand it is broken. That's why this country isn't growing at 5 or 6 percent a year. It's only growing at 3."

The report was commissioned in an attempt to inventory delayed projects and quantify their economic impact, the Chamber said.

The study analyzed 22 nuclear projects, one nuclear disposal project, 21 transmission projects, 38 gas and platform projects, 111 coal projects and 140 renewable projects. The renewable projects include 89 wind, 10 solar, seven hydropower, four wave, 29 ethanol or biomass and one geothermal.

The report noted that clean energy projects "are hitting the same roadblocks as gas, oil, nuclear and coal projects."

(Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Richard Chang.)