(Imagine Mitt Romney holding a match under this image)
It’s really no news that republicans hate US alternative energy. Across the country over the past few years they’ve done everything a political party can do to fight renewables. They’ve blocked legislation, they’ve waged verbal and political campaigns against the new technologies, and they’ve jiggered laws and legislation in an attempt to dissuade people from adopting alternative energy sources at every turn. The Volt, as just one example, has turned into a political whipping boy of the right blamed and smeared with each new success. Solyndra, in another example, is a strawman that has ridden shotgun with Mitt Romney all over the campaign trail.
Republicans, clearly divested of their fake jobs interest, have targeted an industry that directly supports hundreds of thousands of American jobs, 3 times the average number of jobs per dollar spent when compared to fossil fuels, and indirectly supports over 8.5 million jobs. But, it’s pretty clear, given republicans’ actual policies, removed from rhetoric, that they don’t care one whit about these jobs or any other so long as they’ve got a political axe to grind.
Enter yesterday’s presidential debates when Mitt Romney, telling a lie a minute, suddenly opened all guns on alternative energy in this off-color and patently false statement:
“And these [clean energy] businesses, many of them have gone out of business, I think about half of them, of the ones have been invested in, have gone out of business.”
This statement couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only has renewable energy production doubled since Obama began his term in 2009, of the 34 alternative energy companies having received government loans through the stimulus program, only 3 are now in bankruptcy. Nine percent does not make half. But since when did arithmetic ever bother Mitt once he’d gotten onto the whopper roll?
Romney’s false claim goes further than even its blatant and gross exaggeration would indicate. It creates an impression that alternative energy in the US is an abject failure. An implication which couldn’t be further from the truth. And with new US wind installations outpacing every other form of new energy except the, soon to go bust, natural gas, Romney has decided to level a vicious political assault against a sector that is critical to current US energy security as well as economic growth.
We all know that republicans like Romney believe that more drilling can power the entire US and achieve energy independence all in one go. It can’t. The costs for the new fuels are too high, the rate of consumption is too great, and the rate of overall depletion is too high. The republican push for reliance on these depleting fuels would only set the US for another bubble and bust. Even now, many natural gas companies are financially struggling due to the climbing costs of fractured shale production. On the side of oil, fracked extraction of that resource requires prices higher than $90 per barrel to remain profitable. A high price Romney smugly blames on Obama even though it is a simple reality of the market force of depletion acting on the fossil energy sources Romney wants us to be reliant on.
Yet these internal dynamics don’t even take into account the dramatic and growing impact of fossil fuel emissions on climate change. Nor do they consider that the cost of renewable energy, year over year, just keeps going down.
Just this year, another 20% of sea ice was lost in the Arctic. At the current rate of decline, ice-free summers will be seen in the Arctic within this decade. The impacts of this event are twofold — ever more extreme and prolonged extreme weather conditions in the northern hemisphere and enhanced melt in Greenland as it loses its insulating barrier of sea ice. But Mitt Romney doesn’t believe in climate change, remember?
Also this year, solar energy prices fell by over 65%. Now that’s change we can believe in. And as Mitt so snippetly noted, oil prices are high on average overall. Yet Mitt wants to bet the farm and the country, for that matter, on an increasingly expensive and difficult to extract resource.
Romney’s assault on the legitimacy of renewable energy is not only an assault on increasingly less expensive energy and on dealing responsibly with climate change, it is an assault on the American dream. Imagine if Romney’s false vision of half US alternative energy industries going bankrupt came true. Imagine all the lost jobs and livelihoods. Imagine all the failed innovations. Imagine how far back both the US and the world will be pushed if that dark vision becomes reality.
Perhaps Mitt Romney wasn’t lying entirely when he made this statement after all. Perhaps he was instead telegraphing his own plan to drive half of US alternative energy industries into bankruptcy even as he pushes for greater dependence on the dirty dangerous and depleting oil, gas, and coal. It’s really funny how neurotic people with bad intentions tend to project in this way. So we have to wonder, was Mitt foreshadowing the result of a Romney presidency?
Perhaps Mitt Romney’s wish for alternatives is as it was with GM:
“Let them go bankrupt.”
Considering Mitt profited so much from American bankruptcies over the course of his career, I suppose he’d like that. Who knows, maybe his equity firms could still get a part of that action. US middle class alternative energy jobs going to China for more Romney bucks, anyone?