Mitt Romney Hates Green Energy More Than He Hates Big Bird

Mitt Romney hates green energy even more than he hates Big Bird.  Or at least government support for it.  He disparaged  green energy subsidies three times last night, arguing that President Obama had spent $90 billion subsidizing it over the course of his administration, “50 years’ worth of what oil and gas get.” He also claimed that more than half the money went to fund companies that went bankrupt.   It’s too bad the President didn’t fight back.

Let’s start with the obvious point that — if true (which his claims demonstrably aren’t, a point to which I’ll return) — we face a global crisis as we pour greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.  Even if Obama didn’t have the facts at the tip of his tongue to refute Romney’s number, how about saying that we owe it to our children and to our children’s children to begin to tackle climate change?  How about pointing out  that Mr. Romney won’t even acknowledge the human contribution to climate change, disparing it during his convention speech?   And rather than proposing any solutions to the problem, he wants more oil and more gas at cheaper prices, supporting more drilling, the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada and giving away (not just opening up) federal lands to the states for resource exploitation.   The candidates are focused on a small percentage of independent voters. Those voters overwhelmingly believe in climate change (80 percent, according to a recent survey).  The President shouldn’t be afraid to say the words “climate change”.

But what about that $90 billion figure?  And the 1/50th number for oil and gas?  As the New York Times points out, some of the money went to study how to sequester emissions from Romney’s favorite energy source, coal. $29 billion of the $90 billion went to energy efficiency, and of the $29 billion $5 billion went to weatherize homes for low income families.    Energy efficiency is not a subsidy for alternative energy.  It’s a way to reduce our energy usage by using less energy (invariably conventional fossil fuels like coal and natural gas) to provide the same level of service (through weatherizing, installing energy efficient appliances and so forth).  And it saves the middle class and low income households money through lower energy bills.

So how much has the Obama Administration actually spent on renewable energy?  Over the course of the last four years, as part of the stimulus and through a combination of loan guarantees, tax subsidies and grants, we’ve spent  $21 billion on wind, solar and other renewable technologies, again according to the Times.  And how does that stack up historically compared with subsidies for conventional fuels?  According to a report prepared by venture capital firm DBL Investors, the government has subsidized the oil, gas and nuclear industries to the tune of more than $600 billion between 1918 and 2009.   Here’s a great chart from their report:

The report doesn’t include the stimulus money for renewables but even adding in $21 billion doesn’t get us anywhere close to Romney’s $90 billion number.  And 1/50 support for oil and gas?  As the President said about Romney’s tax plan, “it’s math.”  Romney’s math is just wrong.

Finally, Romney claimed that “more than half” of the green energy companies that received federal support have gone bankrupt.  He just made that number up out of whole cloth, or, as the Times put it in a different article, “he was not even within hailing distance of the truth.”  Of the 33 companies to receive subsidies from the DOE, 3 have gone out of business, resulting in losses of “less than 2 percent of money budgeted.”

Romney may have made his arguments with force and charisma.  But he lied.  Repeatedly.

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Reader Comments

10 Replies to “Mitt Romney Hates Green Energy More Than He Hates Big Bird”

  1. Dear Anne,
    Those of us who support next-President Romney were very encouraged by his debate performance. We also believe that much of his opposition will slowly fade away as more people hear Romney’s message and decide for themselves. President Obama did some good things and made his contributions but most of us would now agree that it is time for our Nation to move on. So please join us as we bid our fond farewell to the Obamas and welcome in a new first family. Let go of your fear, rejoice and be happy because happy days are here again. The Romney’s have a home in California.

  2. Dear Anne,
    Those of us who support next-President Romney were very encouraged by his debate performance. We also believe that much of his opposition will slowly fade away as more people hear Romney’s message and decide for themselves. President Obama did some good things and made his contributions but most of us would now agree that it is time for our Nation to move on. So please join us as we bid our fond farewell to the Obamas and welcome in a new first family. Let go of your fear, rejoice and be happy because happy days are here again. The Romney’s have a home in California.

  3. Dear Frank Dank,
    Those of us who support next-President Romney have no need for crack because we maintain our enthusiasm naturally. As time goes on, we believe that you and other good people who previously supported President Obama will share our enthusiasm. Stop and smell the roses. Open your heart and enjoy the sunshine. Be happy and have a wonderful day.

    God Bless America.

  4. Dear Frank Dank,
    Those of us who support next-President Romney have no need for crack because we maintain our enthusiasm naturally. As time goes on, we believe that you and other good people who previously supported President Obama will share our enthusiasm. Stop and smell the roses. Open your heart and enjoy the sunshine. Be happy and have a wonderful day.

    God Bless America.

  5. BQ–Unless you are referring to the magazine (and something tells me you’re not a subscriber), I don’t think nation is capitalized. Or bless either, for that matter.

    I think critics of renewable energy subsidies–and they are often critics of subsidies in general, not just of renewable energy subsidies–would point out that measured per unit of energy produced, renewables are much more heavily subsidized than fossil fuels. It’s not a bad thing for people to question whether these subsidies are a worthwhile investment.

    But the biggest subsidy of all is that someone or something else bears the cost of fossil fuel pollution: government, nature, our health, the climate.

  6. BQ–Unless you are referring to the magazine (and something tells me you’re not a subscriber), I don’t think nation is capitalized. Or bless either, for that matter.

    I think critics of renewable energy subsidies–and they are often critics of subsidies in general, not just of renewable energy subsidies–would point out that measured per unit of energy produced, renewables are much more heavily subsidized than fossil fuels. It’s not a bad thing for people to question whether these subsidies are a worthwhile investment.

    But the biggest subsidy of all is that someone or something else bears the cost of fossil fuel pollution: government, nature, our health, the climate.

  7. I fear for the future of the country. I do understand that there is a financial loss with this initiative but when it comes to climate, we need to understand that mitigation and adaptation initiatives like green power are vital. This will definitely be worth it at the end as it will be a smaller price to pray when the wrath of climate change occurs. Americans needs to understand that what Romney stands for and believes in is not to the benefit of the people; its a financial gain!The world is at a crucial time in history in which our actions and decisions in the following year will determine the security of the future of the planet. He does not believe in this, and is this arrogance and blatant disregard for what many believe is fact that is the problem with not only the country, but the world. After that, I feel Americans have a obvious presidential candidate.

  8. I fear for the future of the country. I do understand that there is a financial loss with this initiative but when it comes to climate, we need to understand that mitigation and adaptation initiatives like green power are vital. This will definitely be worth it at the end as it will be a smaller price to pray when the wrath of climate change occurs. Americans needs to understand that what Romney stands for and believes in is not to the benefit of the people; its a financial gain!The world is at a crucial time in history in which our actions and decisions in the following year will determine the security of the future of the planet. He does not believe in this, and is this arrogance and blatant disregard for what many believe is fact that is the problem with not only the country, but the world. After that, I feel Americans have a obvious presidential candidate.

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Ann Carlson

Ann Carlson is the Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law and the co-Faculty Director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA School…

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