What Obama And Romney Said About Energy During Last Night's Debate

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President Obama shakes Governor Romney's hand after their first debate

Both President Obama and Governor Romney tackled energy policy during the first half of last night’s presidential debate. Romney said the White House has spent $90 billion supporting alternative energy programs. Where did that figure come from? The Washington Post broke the numbers down earlier this year:

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. DOE has a breakdown here.

The New York Times is also putting the energy claims into context. Here’s the paper’s look at Romney’s accusation that energy grants aren’t working:

Mr. Romney said that half the companies backed by the president’s green energy stimulus program have gone out of business. That is 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. Mr. Romney also said that “many” of the companies that received such loans were supported by campaign contributors. George Kaiser, a major fund-raiser for Mr. Obama’s 2008 campaign, was an investor in Solyndra, the failed solar panel maker, but there are also examples of Republican and Democratic campaign contributors who also invested in firms supported by the loan guarantee program.

And what about drilling on public land? The Times fact-checkers note “oil and gas production on public lands increased modestly (about 13 percent for oil and about six percent for gas) in the first three years of the Obama administration over the last three years of the Bush administration.”
Looking for a full transcript of the debate? NPR has you covered.