Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

Romney distorts truth on green jobs

By Van Jones, Special to CNN
October 6, 2012 -- Updated 1407 GMT (2207 HKT)
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
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1305 GMT (2105 HKT)
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1149 GMT (1949 HKT)
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 1723 GMT (0123 HKT)
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 1938 GMT (0338 HKT)
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 04: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell walks the sidelines prior to the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field on September 4, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Martha Pease says the NFL commissioner shouldn't be judge and jury on player wrongdoing.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1315 GMT (2115 HKT)
It's time for a much needed public reckoning over U.S. use of torture, argues Donald P. Gregg.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1225 GMT (2025 HKT)
Peter Bergen says UK officials know the identity of the man who killed U.S. journalists and a British aid worker.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1128 GMT (1928 HKT)
Joe Torre and Esta Soler say much has been achieved since a landmark anti-violence law was passed.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 2055 GMT (0455 HKT)
David Wheeler wonders: If Scotland votes to secede, can America take its place and rejoin England?
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1241 GMT (2041 HKT)
Jane Stoever: Society must grapple with a culture in which 1 in 3 teen girls and women suffer partner violence.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 2036 GMT (0436 HKT)
World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking recently said the world as we know it could be obliterated instantaneously. Meg Urry says fear not.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 2211 GMT (0611 HKT)
Bill Clinton's speech accepting the Democratic nomination for president in 1992 went through 22 drafts. But he always insisted on including a call to service.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 2218 GMT (0618 HKT)
Joe Amon asks: What turns a few cases of disease into thousands?
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 1721 GMT (0121 HKT)
Sally Kohn says bombing ISIS will worsen instability in Iraq and strengthen radical ideology in terrorist groups.
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 1730 GMT (0130 HKT)
Analysts weigh in on the president's plans for addressing the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 1327 GMT (2127 HKT)
Artist Prune Nourry's project reinterprets the terracotta warriors in an exhibition about gender preference in China.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1336 GMT (2136 HKT)
The Apple Watch is on its way. Jeff Yang asks: Are we ready to embrace wearables technology at last?
ADVERTISEMENT