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Romney’s $90 Billion Clean Energy Accusation Raises Environmentalists' Ire

Words by Adam Johnston
Investment & Markets

In case you did not watch last week’s U.S. presidential debate, Republican candidate Mitt Romney criticized Democratic president Barack Obama for supporting clean energy technology programs.

In the debate, Romney went on to say that out of the $90 billion that went to clean energy programs, half of them are out of business.

He also made the claim that $90 billion in one year went to clean energy, comparing that to the $2.8 billion that went to the fossil fuel industry in subsidies.

These accusations raised a lot of eyebrows among environmentalists and some labor groups. Leo W. Gerard, President of the United Steelworks and Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune, co-chairs of the Blue-Green Alliance, criticized Romney’s statements in a release:

Supporting the middle class and economic growth means supporting the good jobs that are already improving energy efficiency, strengthening American manufacturing and moving our country toward cleaner energy sources. All of which have created good jobs, reduced pollution and ensured that America can compete with China, Europe and the rest of the world for the good jobs clean energy will provide.

"We cannot discount the good, green job investments that are already working today, nor the impact that a revitalized, more fuel-efficient auto industry is having and will continue to have on our nation. Governor Romney shouldn't either."

Even with the concerns of some groups, Ed Gillespie, communications director of the Romney campaign, noted early on in the campaign that his candidate would not be dominated by fact checkers.

Despite this, just a day after the first debate, factcheck.org, a non-partisan organization, analysed Romney’s statements with some interesting results:

Romney stated that the $90 billion spent on green energy was a one year deal. However, factcheck.org noted it was spread over a two-year span.

The Romney camp claimed the $90 billion was spent on “solar and wind.” This claim is misleading, as only $21 billion actually did go into renewable energy ventures, including solar and wind, based on 2010 documents from the White House, which factcheck.org mentioned. That amount included projects for solar panel and wind turbine installation. Some of the other “clean energy spending" included $5 billion for retrofits of low income homes, $10 billion for upgrading the U.S. electrical grid, $18 billion for high speed rail and transit and $6 billion to help support advanced battery manufacturing for alternative vehicles.

Romney also mentioned that numerous companies have failed to pay back the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) 1705 loan program. However, Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently said he is making an advanced payment to the DOE on the loan he got to help build the Model S Sedan.

There are other misinterpretations of what defines clean energy subsidies and fossil fuel subsidies. Over the next month, we will continue to see a battle over the future of U.S. energy policy. Only time will tell if clean energy will advance or backtrack.

Source: PR Newswire

Image Credit: Dumas, Texas Wind Farm Via Wikimedia Commons

Adam Johnston

A graduate of the University of Winnipeg with a three-year Bachelor of Arts degree, with a combined major in Economics and Rhetoric, Writing, and Communications, Adam is a ‘bright green’ environmentalist who believes in the power of economic and business opportunity in clean tech to bring more people towards environmental issues.

Besides Triple Pundit, Adam writes for Cleantechnica, and Rant Gaming.
Adam had worked previously as a commodities and grains reporter for a newswire service. Stories that he covered included currency, weather, and biofuels.

You can follow him on Twitter @adamjohnstonwpg or www.adammjohnston.wordpress.com

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