Renewable energy has become a political football, especially as it is found that Obama’s $90 Billion alternative energy projects are failing. Both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan brought up the failing renewable energy projects during the recent presidential debates.
“You don’t pick winners and losers, you just pick losers,” Romney told Obama during the October 3rd Presidential debate, citing how Obama has not let the renewable energy industry thrive on its own. The renewable energy industry has been receiving tax subsidies since the early 90’s and has never been in danger of not being renewed until now.
Known as “green pork” humanevents.com says these renewable energy subsidies include “government investments” and tax incentives to put “Americans back to work making our homes and businesses more energy efficient, increasing the use of clean and renewable electricity, cutting our dependence on oil, and modernizing the electric grid.”
“The past four years of this president’s administration have been defined by bailouts, handouts and copouts,” said Republican representative Cory Gardner of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “The green initiative of the president is certainly the epitome of handouts.”
Energy Department Inspector General Gregory Friedman investigations “has led to eight criminal prosecutions and he has recovered $2.3 million in misspent funding.”
In addition, $5 billion of work in the weatherization program “was often of poor quality” and that Energy Department officials could not defend the loans to other failed renewable energy projects.
Many companies participating in the renewable energy Obama stimulus package have filed for bankruptcy, wasting the money given to them.
• Battery maker Ener1 lost $100 million
• Solar panel manufacturer Solyndra blew away $535 million, making headlines along the way
• Abound Solar wasted $70 million, creating a solar panel that burst into flame when put in sunlight
• Energy storage company Beacon Power burned up $43 million.
• Worst of the worst, Robert Kennedy, Jr.’s company VantagePoint Partners, was bailed out by Obama with $1.4 billion for its huge debt in BrightSource
Just this past week, lithium ion battery maker A123 Systems filed for bankruptcy, despite a $249 million investment from our government. Electric sports car manufacturer Fisker automotive, maker of the Karma, received $529 million in loans and is likely to be hurt by A123 System’s troubles.
The Obama administration has been accused of cronyism, which led to Vice President Joe Biden to fight back. “All this talk about cronyism, they investigated and investigated, did not find one single piece of evidence,” Biden said. “In fact, four percent of those green jobs didn’t go under. It’s a better batting average than investment bankers have.” Does that mean 96 percent failed? Such “green jobs” include welders, college professors, lobbyists and school bus drivers.
“What we’ve learned is that green jobs cost millions of dollars each. It is the height of hypocrisy to see a president campaign against venture capitol and then run a program that is truly a venture capital program except it’s paid for by the taxpayers,” Gardner said.
• Former Vice President Al Gore, an investor in 14 green technology companies, benefited from $2.5 billion government money
• Steve Westly, who raised $437,000 for Obama’s first presidential campaign and created electric carmaker Tesla Motors, received $465,000
• George Kaiser, who raised $100,000 for Obama’s first campaign, is a Solyndra investor
In order to be fair it’s not just the renewable energy industry that has benefited from government handouts. While the wind tax credit costs about $1 billion a year, continuing government subsidies have greatly benefited the oil and gas industry. The latimes.com provides a breakdown of the various tax breaks:
• Fossil-fuel producers get tax breaks such as the depletion allowance, which is worth an estimated $1 billion a year
• Tax-expensing options for drillers cost $1.9 billion a year
• Relief on royalty payments due to drillers on government property costs $53 billion over the lifetime of the land leases, which are among the lowest in the world
• The coal industry gets a preferential tax rate from the Koren War which costs $170 million a year
• The nuclear power industry receives subsidies worth as much as 11.4 cents per generated kilowatt, or five times as much as the 2.2-cent wind tax credit.
If what Romney says is true, that the government should not “pick winners and losers”,then that philosophy should apply to both the renewable energy and oil/gas/coal/nuclear industries. Unfortunately, while Obama’s renewable energy projects may be failing Romney is failing to support taking away these energy subsidies and let the markets truly decide who are the winners.