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Fact Check: Romney Came Equipped with His Own Facts on Energy

Contact: Jeff Gohringer, 202-454-4573 or

October 4, 2012  

WASHINGTON – In the first presidential debate of the fall campaign, Mitt Romney came equipped with his own distorted facts on energy. Here are the top four:  

On Green Businesses:

Romney Claimed: “I think about half of [the green energy businesses the federal government has] invested in, have gone out of business.”

The Facts: As Politico has noted, Romney’s claim is “Not even close. Of the 26 winners of Department of Energy loan guarantees under the stimulus, a total of three have gone belly up: Solyndra, Abound Solar and Beacon Power. Several of the others, in fact, have thrived, including the maker of a Kansas cellulosic ethanol plant and one of the world’s largest wind projects in Oregon.”  The New York Times similarly noted that Romney’s claim was a “gross overstatement.”  Moreover, Time Magazine’s Michael Grunwald estimates that when considering all government-backed green companies, rather than just those that received funds under the Recovery Act’s loan guarantee program, less than 1 percent have gone out of business. 

On Funding For Wind and Solar:

Romney Claimed: “[I]n one year, [President Obama] provided $90 billion in breaks to the green energy world. … [President Obama] put $90 billion, like 50 years' worth of breaks, into -- into solar and wind, to Solyndra and Fisker and Tesla and Ener1.”

The Facts: As the Washington Post reported, “The Energy Department put $90 billion worth of grants, loan guarantees and loans into what it calls a ‘clean energy’ economy. But that money is 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.”  CNN similarly noted that “not even half” of the $90 billion has gone to green companies, and also pointed out that “not all that money has been spent.”

On the Size of Oil Subsidies:

Romney Claimed: “First of all, the Department of Energy has said the tax break for oil companies is $2.8 billion a year.”

The Facts: As the New York Times reported, “Mr. Obama said the oil industry received $4 billion a year in favorable tax treatment, although Mr. Romney said the figure was $2.8 billion. The president’s figure has appeared in budget documents in each of the past three years and has not been disputed by industry.”  Indeed, the Joint Committee on Taxation’s analysis of President Obama’s fiscal year 2012 budget confirmed that the oil industry is scheduled to receive $4.4 billion in subsidies in 2013 and $40.7 billion over the next ten years.

On The Share of Subsidies Received By Big Oil Companies:

Romney Claimed: “And you say Exxon and Mobil [received these tax breaks]. Actually, this $2.8 billion goes largely to small companies, to drilling operators and so forth.”

The Facts: Most of the oil subsidies President Obama has proposed cutting go to the biggest oil companies, not small oil companies.  In fact, according to a Joint Committee on Taxation analysis, just the five largest oil companies alone receive $2.4 billion – or more than half -- of the $4 billion in subsidies that the President proposed eliminating in his fiscal year 2012 budget.  According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, ExxonMobil alone receives $600 million a year in subsidies, or 15 percent of all oil subsidies Obama has proposed cutting.


Paid for by the League of Conservation Voters,, and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. 

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