Both Politifact and the Washington Post Fact Checker have given the ad their worst ratings of “pants on fire” and four Pinocchios, respectively. Politifact found all three examples used to be false, with the ad stringing together “alarming” soundbites that are “ultimately ridiculous.” And the Washington Post writes “there is no excuse for these kinds of ads, which take facts out of context or simply invent them.”
After pouring more than $8.4 million into bogus energy attack ads since November, the oil industry front group Americans For Prosperity announced yet another major ad buy of $6.1 million in eight states.
The latest ad is based on a set of mistruths about green jobs that have been widely debunked.
In the ad, AFP explains that “billions of taxpayer dollars spent on green energy went to jobs in foreign countries,” and uses four examples that supposedly prove that Obama’s clean energy stimulus created foreign jobs instead of domestic ones.
All four examples are either mostly or completely false.
1. The ad claims that $1.2 billion is being used to create solar jobs in Mexico. This point was completely made up by a random conservative blogger and has been repeatedly called out as a lie. This $1.2 billion loan guarantee was issued for a large, first-of-its-kind solar plant in California being developed by NRG. However, the blogger falsely wrote that the money was being used to create manufacturing jobs in Mexico.
In reality, the jobs created in Mexico had absolutely nothing to do with the loan guarantee. The only connection to Mexico was that some of the solar panels would be coming from a manufacturing plant located there. And even though the source of the panels had nothing to do with the decision to issue the loan guarantee, the company providing the panels, SunPower, explained that most of the panels were coming from America anyway.
2. The ad claims that a loan guarantee for an electric vehicle manufacturer went to jobs in Finland. This is also a made up story pushed by Fox News and conservative bloggers. In fact, all of the money used through the loan guarantee went toward building a U.S. manufacturing facility.
There were some jobs created in Finland during final assembly of the vehicles, but that was announced up front in 2009 when the loan guarantee was issued. According to the Department of Energy, all of the money set aside for Fisker’s next-generation vehicle manufacturing was issued for American operations.
3. The ad claims that tens of millions of dollars went toward building traffic lights in China. This is another murky claim that doesn’t hold up. In 2010, because of the lack of domestic manufacturing, the Department of Energy allowed some LED lighting technologies for stimulus projects to be sourced from overseas companies:
Federal agencies may waive the “buy American” requirement if they determine that a needed item is not available from domestic sources in sufficient quantities, that it would inconsistent with the public interest to comply, or that the cost is unreasonable.
The agency says that all of the investments made for lighting projects followed the Buy America requirements established in the stimulus package. To make the spin worse, the ad implies that the stimulus money went to install traffic lights within China. That is totally false.
4. The ad claims that $2.3 billion in clean energy stimulus incentives went to overseas firms. This figure is based on a 2010 Washington Times piece borrowing from an investigative story from American University that found stimulus dollars going to foreign companies developing projects within the U.S. The piece raised questions about how many jobs were being created overseas to build the technologies being deployed in the U.S.
After publishing that piece, investigative reporter Russ Choma told FactCheck.org that the numbers showed more jobs being created in the U.S.:
It should be noted there were no farms that we could find that used turbines entirely built in China, so we can’t say for sure how much of this stimulus money went to create jobs in China. Some money definitely did, but it is safe to say more money went to creating jobs in the U.S. and Europe.
This latest ad brings the total amount spent by pro-fossil fuel groups to more than $24 million in just the first few months of 2012, based on a ThinkProgress analysis.
Jobs in green goods and services accounted for 3.1 million jobs in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, a study found that every dollar put into clean energy creates three-times as many jobs as investing in fossil fuels.
Watch AFP’s ad: