The former Massachusetts governor said that the president had “provided $90 billion in breaks to the green energy world” and that half of the businesses that had received support had “gone out of business.” But fact checkers at CNN, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Christian Science Monitor were quick to add context to the former allegation and to refute the latter.
First of all, the $90 billion was part of 2009’s $787 stimulus package, but not all of it has been spent and not all of it went to companies or individuals. As the Post’s Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson reported, it was “spread widely”:
About $3 billion went to carbon capture and storage projects needed to make coal “clean,” a goal Romney shares; about $11 billion went to energy efficiency; about $5 billion went to clean up old nuclear weapons sites; about $4 billion went to modernizing the electricity grid; and about $2 billion went to research and development, which Romney has also supported. DOE has a breakdown here.
Furthermore, Romney’s assertion that half the companies backed by the DOE’s loan program have gone out of business is, as the Times’s John Broder put it, “a gross overstatement”:
Of nearly three dozen recipients of loans under the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program, only three are currently in bankruptcy, although several others are facing financial difficulties.
It’s too bad that the candidates weren’t more forthcoming about the details of their energy plans or their positions on climate change and public lands, and that Lehrer did nothing to draw them out. It’s not surprising, of course, but that does little to soothe the sense of disappointment that many in the media legitimately feel.