During the presidential debate, Mitt Romney lied to the American public about the success of President Obama’s green stimulus spending. A big part of the success of the Democrat’s stimulus spending concerned the creation of green jobs. The US unemployment rate is now at 7.8 percent, this is the first time since the President took office that they have dropped below 8 percent. The President’s support for green jobs are part of this favorable employment trend. According to a study from the Bureau of Labor as of 2010 there were already 3.1 million green jobs in the US. While the Obama administration was growing the number of green jobs, the Republicans were pushing legislation that undermines green job growth.
As reviewed by Wonkblog, Mitt Romney criticized the Obama administration for putting “$90 billion into green jobs.” A closer inspection of this statement reveals that Romney’s criticisms are unfounded, the facts indicate that Obama’s green energy investments have been very successful.
One of Romney’s many lies during the presidential debate concerned his claims that half the companies funded by these energy programs have “gone out of business.” The truth is less than less than 1 percent of the President’s energy programs have failed.
After fact checkers disputed Romney’s lies, his camp claimed the Republican presidential nominee was referring to the Energy Department’s 1705 loan program, which provides about $16.1 billion to clean-energy companies. Even if we accept this explanation, of the 33 companies that have received loan guarantees, only three are in bankruptcy. This puts the default rate at just 2.6 percent for this one program in the stimulus.
Failure is an inevitable part of any business endeavor, but the rate is far below what Congress anticipated for the 1705 loan program. As explained by energy analyst Gregory Kats, the loan program’s final cost will likely end up well below the $2.47 billion Congress set aside to cover losses.
Romeny is right on one count, the Obama administration has provided a $90 billion stimulus for a wide array of clean energy programs. According to the White House, here is a breakdown of clean energy stimulus spending.
- $29 billion for improving energy efficiency, including home retrofits (One million US homes have been weatherized)
- $21 billion in incentives for renewable generation, such as solar and wind
- $10 billion for modernizing the electric grid $6 billion to promote advanced vehicles and a domestic battery industry
- $18 billion for high-speed rail and other trains
- $3 billion for research into carbon capture for coal plants
- $3 billion for job training
- $3 billion for clean manufacturing tax credits
Under the Obama administration non-hydro renewable energy sources have almost doubled. From January 1 to June 30, 2012 non-hydro renewable energy sources (geothermal, biomass, solar, and wind) provided 5.76 percent of net electrical generation, an increase of 10.97 percent for the same period last year. Utility scale solar increased 97.2 percent from one year ago, wind generation grew 16.3 percent and geothermal by 0.2 percent. Biomass declined by 0.8 percent.
As stated by Mike Grunwald with a top-line summary: Wind power has doubled from 25 gigawatts (GW) before President Obama took office, the U.S. to 50 GW. Solar has increased by six times since Obama was elected from less than 1 GW to 5 GW of solar.
The Obama administration has also seen costs of renewable energy fall, which is crucial if they are ever to compete with cheap fossil fuels. The price of photovoltaic systems has fallen by half, from $7.20 per watt in 2007 to $3.47 per watt in 2011. The cost of new wind turbines fell 27 percent from 2008 to 2011.
Renewable energy technologies like solar, wind and geothermal have received about $21 billion from the stimulus. If spread out over 15 years, renewables are still getting far less support than oil, gas, and nuclear did in their first two decades. Even today oil and gas companies continue to receive a number of tax breaks conservatively estimated to be worth about $2.8 billion per year.