The first presidential debate has come to a close, and, ladies and gentlemen, it looks like we’ve got a legit race on our hands.
To look at a topic near and dear to our hearts, let’s focus on what the candidates said about energy. The term was mentioned 18 times on Wednesday night. Former Gov. Mitt Romney said the word 11 times, and President Barack Obama uttered the term seven times.
Based on their context, it’s clear that the candidates offer contrasting opinions on the future of American energy.
Romney’s references focused heavily on energy independence, which he believes would create 4 million jobs.
He stated that energy is critical, and acknowledged that production of oil and gas is soaring in the U.S., but failed to grant Obama’s administration credit, claiming the success was “not due to his policies,” as additional oil production has occurred on private land, rather than government or public land. If elected, Romney swore to double the number of oil drilling permits on public land, bring in oil from offshore sources and Alaska, and build the Canadian-American Keystone XL pipeline, which Obama shot down in January.
President Obama’s energy mentions, while short on specifics, focused on developing the “energy sources of the future, like wind and solar and biofuels.”
Romney remained critical of President Obama’s gushing over “Big Green,” stating, “In one year you [President Obama] provided $90 billion in breaks to the green energy world.… That’s about 50 years worth of what oil and gas receives.”
Romney continued the onslaught: “You put $90 billion, like 50 years worth of breaks, into — into solar and wind, to Solyndra and Fisker and Tester and Ener1. I mean, I had a friend who said you don't just pick the winners and losers, you pick the losers, all right? So this — this is not the kind of policy you want to have if you want to get America energy secure.
“And these 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.”
Romney preferred that money was invested in education, stating, “Look, I'm all in favor of green energy. But, $90 billion, that would have — that would have hired 2 million teachers.”
Checking his statements, Mitt did exaggerate a bit when he claimed that $90 billion was given in tax breaks to “Green Energy.” The $90 billion was actually a mix of grants, loans, and guarantees — spread out over several years — through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. And, about $23 billion of that amount was spent on clean coal, smart grid energy-efficiency upgrades, and nuclear waste clean-ups. Additionally, some of the “$90 billion” was carried over from George W. Bush’s reign.
Regarding fossil fuels, Obama’s 2013 budget eliminates tax breaks for oil subsidies at the rate of approximately $4 billion annually.
Romney also hinted that if the “Big Oil” tax rate of 35 percent was reduced to 25 percent, that the aforementioned $2.8 billion in fuel subsidies would be “on the table.”
Nevertheless, Romney’s attention to energy, and his $90 billion green-energy claim proved very effective, as the president refrained from response, thus, making it very easy to score round one for Romney.