Romney’s $90 billion green jobs attack

October 3, 2012

Mitt Romney said that Obama put $90 billion into green jobs and that half the recipients failed. Nowhere near half of the federal loan or grant recipients have failed.

The GOP presidential candidate claimed the administration gave green energy companies $90 billion through the stimulus bill, saying, “Now I like green energy as well, but that’s about fifty years of what the oil and gas industry received."

The Energy Department put $90 billion worth of grants, loan guarantees and loans into what it calls a “clean energy” economy. But that money is spread widely: About $3 billion went to carbon capture and storage projects needed to make coal “clean,” a goal Romney shares; about $11 billion went to energy efficiency; about $5 billion went to clean up old nuclear weapons sites; about $4 billion went to modernizing the electricity grid; and about $2 billion went to research and development, which Romney has also supported. DOE has a breakdown here

Romney said that Obama sent money to firms whose executives had donated to his campaign. That is true in the case of Solyndra, but while House Republicans have harshly criticized the administration for that, investigations have not revealed any direct link between the loans for Solyndra and campaign support for the president.

In addition, a significant portion of the money the Energy Department distributed came in the form of loans, some of which will be paid back. (In the case of failed solar manufacturer Solyndra, that was an absolute loss for taxpayers.)

By contrast, the $2.8 billion in tax breaks the oil and gas firms receive each year represent money the federal government will not recover. Before the stimulus bill went into effect, federal fossil fuel subsidies outnumbered subsidies for renewable energy by a ratio of 4 to 1, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Those figures also don't take into account the infrastructure the federal government has financed over the past century that has aided the fossil fuel industry, including the railroads Obama touted during the debate.

For one take on the DOE loan guarantee program, from a clean energy expert, see this link

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