Although environmental issues were largely absent from the vice presidential debate Thursday night, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan still managed to take a few swings at green energy.
"Look at just the $90 billion in stimulus the vice president was in charge of overseeing -- this $90 billion in green pork to campaign contributors and special interest groups," Ryan said.
The Associated Press reported, however, that although there have been some failed investments like Solyndra, "dismissing an entire package of energy stimulus grants and loans as 'green pork' ignores the help that was given to people to make their homes more energy efficient, grants to public entities constructing high speed rail lines and tax credits to manufacturers to install equipment fostering cleaner energy."
Vice President Joe Biden was quick to slam Ryan's claim, pointing out that Ryan himself wrote letters to the Department of Energy in 2009 requesting stimulus money for two energy efficient organizations in the congressman's home state of Wisconsin.
Ryan has expressed skepticism of climate change, noting that much of his state is "buried under snow." But in the letters, he advocated on behalf of a project that would "reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
During the debate Ryan also asked Biden, “Was it a good idea to spend taxpayer dollars on electric cars in Finland or on windmills in China?” While The Hill points out that a grant program supported some projects with Chinese suppliers, PolitiFact explains that Ryan greatly exaggerated China's role. As for the support of Fisker Automotive in Finland, the money came through a program signed by President George W. Bush, not the stimulus.
Ryan's criticism of green energy is in keeping with Mitt Romney's energy plan, which focuses on weakening environmental regulations and furthering oil, gas and coal operations.
As The Huffington Post's Tom Zeller has pointed out, "working alongside oil and gas industry executives to draft a plan that rolls back protections for clean air and water, expands oil and gas production on protected lands and in coastal waters, and otherwise doubles-down on fossil fuels -- and doing all of this while giving short-shrift to climate change and the still-embryonic renewable energy industry -- well, that's just aimed at 'the well-being of the nation,' according to Romney's energy plan."