In a “prebuttal” to President Obama’s State of the Union address, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and private-equity millionaire, laid out an understanding of American energy policy that bears only a tenuous relationship to reality. Romney attacked successful government investment in clean energy as failures, falsified the recent history of domestic oil and gas development, and wrote the Deepwater Horizon disaster out of memory. Like the rest of the Republican Party, Romney made sure to jump on the Keystone XL pipeline bandwagon, purporting it would create tens of thousands of jobs.
Romney, who as recently as last June told New Hampshire voters that it’s “important” to reduce greenhouse pollution, talked only of a future where oil and gas drilling faces no regulatory hurdles.
Below, ThinkProgress Green provides Romney’s speech with the facts it was lacking.
Energy Facts: Rebutting Romney’s Prebuttal
ROMNEY: When we needed stability and solvency, he gave us Solyndra.
FACT CHECK: Solyndra, an innovative solar panel manufacturer, was a private-investment darling to the tune of $961 million until silicon prices plummeted, making their technology too expensive for the marketplace. Bloomberg has found that the default rate, including the $535 million Solyndra default, on the $16.1 billion Energy Department loan portfolio is less than 3.6 percent. The Department of Energy has leveraged taxpayer dollars into nearly $40 billion in solvent projects, helping create 60,000 stable American clean-economy jobs.
ROMNEY: When we needed a climate for private investment, he gave us Cash for Clunkers.
FACT CHECK: The Cash for Clunkers program was “huge success,” Forbes declared. Before the $3 billion program was enacted, 1500 car dealerships had closed, laying off 50,000 people. Cash for Clunkers simultaneously provided a critical lifeline to the American auto manufacturers and car dealers at a crucial moment in the economy, spurred a major increase in the fuel economy of new car purchases, and made efficiency a major selling point in the minds of the American consumer. Cash for Clunkers provided consumers about one-sixth the price of the new cars, meaning it directly spurred about $15 billion in private spending.
ROMNEY: When we needed more domestic energy to keep prices low and create jobs, he imposed bans on oil drilling and turned his EPA regulators loose to slow our development of natural gas.
FACT CHECK: President Obama installed a brief moratorium on the expansion of new exploratory drilling — not a ban on existing drilling — following the BP Gulf of Mexico disaster, the worst environmental disaster in American history. Under his presidency, natural gas development has exploded to record levels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed, but not issued any new regulations for air or water pollution from natural gas drilling, even as communities are poisoned.
ROMNEY: I will streamline regulation, ensure the prompt review of projects, and order agencies to focus on economic growth. The Keystone Pipeline is a real “shovel-ready” project that would put 20,000 Americans back to work. Three years of review is long enough. The President was wrong to reject it. I will approve it.
FACT CHECK: Even the foreign oil company TransCanada admits its Keystone XL pipeline won’t put more than 6000 Americans to work — many of whom already are employed. Republicans want President Obama to approve the risky pipeline even though its route hasn’t even been finalized.
ROMNEY: I will open up new markets for American goods, and open up our lands so that we can finally develop our energy resources. A revolution in drilling for natural gas has opened up new supplies that will create American jobs, provide affordable energy, and offer our manufacturers a competitive edge. My administration will support the development of these resources, not find excuses to stand in the way.
FACT CHECK: President Obama is also touting the natural gas boom.
Unfortunately, while leaders of both parties promote the explosion in drilling as a revolution for “domestic energy,” it is becoming less clear that dependence on hydrofracked natural gas is any safer for our planet and our civilization’s future than other fossil fuels. Although Romney denies the reality of climate change and Obama avoids discussing it, the challenge of ending our addiction to all fossil fuels is unavoidable.