Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

Romney distorts truth on green jobs

By Van Jones, Special to CNN
updated 10:07 AM EDT, Sat October 6, 2012
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, order food at a Wendy's restuarant in Richmond Heights, Ohio, on Tuesday. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, order food at a Wendy's restuarant in Richmond Heights, Ohio, on Tuesday.
HIDE CAPTION
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
92
93
94
95
96
97
98
99
100
101
102
103
104
105
106
107
108
109
110
111
112
113
114
115
116
117
118
119
120
121
122
123
124
125
126
127
128
129
130
131
132
133
134
135
136
137
138
139
140
141
142
143
144
145
146
147
148
149
150
151
152
153
154
155
156
157
158
159
160
161
162
163
164
165
166
167
168
169
170
171
172
173
174
175
176
177
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Van Jones: Mitt Romney was wrong to imply adminsitration spent $90 billion on solar, wind
  • He says $21 billion spent on solar/wind, the rest on other green energy initiatives
  • Jones says Romney was wrong to say investments were failures; success rate was high
  • He says it's a good thing Obama is against drilling on some public lands

Editor's note: Van Jones is president and founder of RebuildTheDream.com, an online platform for political innovation focused on policy, economics and media. He was President Obama's green jobs advisor in 2009.

(CNN) -- Wednesday night in Denver, Mitt Romney tried to imply that President Barack Obama had given $90 billion in tax breaks to solar and wind companies. After first noting (more accurately) that $90 billion went to the "green energy world," Romney followed up with "don't forget... you put $90 billion -- like 50 years worth of breaks -- into solar and wind."

Personally, I wish the president had. But it just isn't true.

The actual number was more like $21 billion. I know, because I helped oversee the administration's efforts in this area.

Van Jones
Van Jones

The larger number refers to all of the investments in the 2009 stimulus package that the administration designated "green" in any way. The number included $6 billion for advanced batteries to make electric cars possible, $29 billion for energy efficiency and home retrofits, $3 billion for job training, and even $18 billion for transit and high speed rail. To pretend that all of that money went to solar and wind companies is ludicrous.

Worse, Romney alleged that the administration picked only "losers." False.

First of all, many of these initiatives began under President George W. Bush, including some of the loan guarantee programs Romney likes to attack. With the exception of Solyndra, the track record for renewable energy investments is strong. In fact, the failure rate is lower than Congress anticipated when they created these programs -- and, while we're on the topic, higher than Romney's 80% success rate at Bain Capital.

CNN Fact Check: Are half of green energy firms funded by stimulus out of business?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that there are 3.1 million green jobs in the United States right now. This is a big success story for Obama. Today, there are 75,000 Americans employed in the wind energy business alone, compared with 81,000 coal miners. Today, the top three clean-tech states each employ more people in green jobs than the coal industry does nationwide. Romney is willing to jeopardize those jobs by arguing for killing the wind energy tax credit -- while refusing to end subsidies and supports for the fossil fuel industry.

Opinion: Millenials to candidates: Talk to us

Grading Obama's energy policy
Solar panels cause trouble at airport
Romney digs at Obama's 'war on coal'
The Best Advice: Van Jones

(By the way: Coal employment is still high. Regulations that place more stringent public health standards on coal mining have actually created more jobs in coal mining industry, thanks to EPA. Even if the number of miners goes down at some point, I would blame dynamite, not government regulations. More and more, "mountaintop removal" is the standard practice for coal companies, and simply blowing up a mountain to scrape the coal out requires fewer workers. )

Romney is right that Obama has not been willing to open up some public lands for oil drilling and coal mining. That is a good thing. If it were left up to people like Romney, there might be oil rigs in places like the Grand Canyon. That approach not only desecrates our nation's natural beauty, it is an unnecessary and excessive risk. The United States is on its way to being a net oil exporter, without jeopardizing the beauty and integrity of our public lands.

Both conservatives and liberals should be happy with Obama's energy policies. Oil, coal and natural gas production is up, which should please the right. But energy efficiency and conservation is also up, which should please the left.

Romney -- like his running mate, Paul Ryan -- sounds great when he is spinning his yarns about America under Obama. But he knows precious little about the renewable energy industry and is relying on Tea Party talking points to score cheap points, at the expense of America's clean energy entrepreneurs.

There is an upside: This fall, both Ryan and Romney have already created a full employment program -- for fact checkers.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Van Jones.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 2:19 PM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
As a woman whose parents had cancer, I have quite a few things to say about dying with dignity.
updated 9:04 AM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
David Gergen says he'll have a special eye on a few particular races in Tuesday's midterms that may tell us about our long-term future.
updated 10:52 AM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
What's behind the uptick in clown sightings? And why the fascination with them? It could be about the economy.
updated 9:01 AM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
Midterm elections don't usually have the same excitement as presidential elections. That should change, writes Sally Kohn.
updated 11:39 AM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Mike Downey says the Giants and the Royals both lived through long title droughts. What teams are waiting for a win?
updated 2:32 PM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Mel Robbins says if a man wants to talk to a woman on the street, he should follow 3 basic rules.
updated 5:03 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say more terrorism plots are disrupted by families than by NSA surveillance.
updated 5:25 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Time magazine has clearly kicked up a hornet's nest with its downright insulting cover headlined "Rotten Apples," says Donna Brazile.
updated 4:55 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Leroy Chiao says the failure of the launch is painful but won't stop the trend toward commercializing space.
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Timothy Stanley: Though Jeb Bush has something to offer, another Bush-Clinton race would be a step backward.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Errol Louis says forced to choose between narrow political advantage and the public good, the governors showed they are willing to take the easy way out over Ebola.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Eric Liu says with our family and friends and neighbors, each one of us must decide what kind of civilization we expect in the United States. It's our responsibility to set tone and standards, with our laws and norms
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Sally Kohn says the UNC report highlights how some colleges exploit student athletes while offering little in return
updated 3:04 PM EDT, Sun October 26, 2014
Terrorists don't represent Islam, but Muslims must step up efforts to counter some of the bigotry within the world of Islam, says Fareed Zakaria
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Scott Yates says extending Daylight Saving Time could save energy, reduce heart attacks and get you more sleep
updated 8:32 PM EDT, Sun October 26, 2014
Reza Aslan says the interplay between beliefs and actions is a lot more complicated than critics of Islam portray
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT