While Calling Stimulus ‘Wasteful,’ Paul Ryan Secured Millions Of Dollars In Grants For Clean Energy

When it comes to the stimulus, presumptive GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan was against it before he was for it.

Or, to be more precise, he was for it at the same time he was against it.

According to documents obtained by the Boston Globe, Rep. Ryan (R-WI) lobbied the Department of Energy for tens of millions of dollars in stimulus grants for Wisconsin energy initiatives at least four times — even while calling the stimulus a “wasteful spending spree.”

The Globe reports:

“This trillion dollar spending bill misses the mark on all counts,” said Ryan in a statement from his office. “This is not a crisis we can spend and borrow our way out of — that is how we got here in the first place.”

But later that year, once the bill was passed and signed into law, Ryan sought to make sure his constituents benefited.

On October 5, 2009, he wrote a letter to Chu on behalf of the nonprofit Energy Center of Wisconsin, which was applying for a grant under the Recovery Act’s Geothermal Technologies Program.

Under the grant program the center received a total of $240,000, according to its president, Frank Greb.

The same day Ryan sent another letter advocating for a grant application, in which the Energy Center partnered with Milwaukee Area Technical College, for training building technicians and operators in energy-saving techniques. For that program, the government provided $740,364, according to federal records.

But the biggest payoff came for the Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation. Ryan predicted the $20 million grant would be able to “create or retain approximately 7,600 new jobs over the three-year grant period and the subsequent three years.”

Yet in an interview with MSNBC two years later, Ryan again bashed the stimulus package.

Ryan is best known for his role as chairman of the House Budget Committee. He’s well liked within the Tea Party for his strong rhetoric on slashing federal spending (cutting everything except the military and fossil fuel subsidies) — a key reason why he was chosen by the Romney campaign.

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However, according to the documents, Ryan requested millions of dollars for a variety of programs under the stimulus package, including $5.4 million for bus services and tens of millions of dollars for renewable energy and efficiency programs.

Ryan joins at least 62 Congressional Republicans who have actively lobbied the government for loan guarantees and grants for clean energy companies in their districts — even while many of them have publicly criticized the stimulus program that provided a boost to local companies and organizations around the country. According to the Department of Energy, the loan guarantee programs created or saved over 60,000 jobs and the 1603 grant program supported up to 75,000 jobs, stimulating tens of billions of dollars in private-sector activity.

And this is where these stories of hypocritical behavior around clean energy get tricky. It’s a great thing that Republicans once supported this industry. Assuming the dollars go toward good projects, we should resoundingly support conservatives who want to build their local economies through clean energy.

But the Republican party has made a choice to aggressively target clean energy this election cycle, spending millions of dollars on false claims about the industry that fact checkers call “ridiculous.” In addition, Paul Ryan is pushing a proposed federal budget that slashes the Department of Energy’s renewable energy program by 57 percent, put the breaks on incentives for advanced clean technology manufacturing, and retains $38.6 billion in tax credits for the oil and gas sector.

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Joshua Freed, vice president for clean energy at Third Way, told the Globe that Ryan’s budget “waves a white flag on competing in energy technology” by defunding crucial clean energy programs at a time when every other country sees the sector as vital to competitiveness.

Like many in his party, Ryan is partially betting his political future on being against clean energy this election cycle. Unless, of course, he can get money for his own district.