How Conservative Media Wrote Romney's Energy Attacks

››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL, JILL FITZSIMMONS & MAX GREENBERG

Conservative media outlets pushed at least eleven misleading attacks on President Obama's energy policies that have become talking points used by Mitt Romney's campaign. The conservative media bubble has largely prevented voters from hearing the facts about clean energy programs, fossil fuel production and environmental regulation under the Obama administration.

The conservative media:

Fox Advised Romney To Falsely Blame Obama For Gas Prices

Romney Said Proof Of Failed Energy Strategy Was Price At The Pump. Criticizing Obama's energy policy during the second presidential debate, Romney said "the proof of whether a strategy is working or not is what the price is that you're paying at the pump." As proof that the president's strategy was not working, he said "When the president took office, the price of gasoline here in Nassau County was about a buck eighty-six a gallon. Now it's four bucks a gallon." [Presidential debate transcript, 10/16/12, via New York Times]

Romney: Under President Obama, "Gasoline Prices Have Doubled." Romney has repeatedly criticized President Obama for his handling of the economy by saying that gasoline prices have doubled during his tenure. He made this argument at an April appearance near the future site of the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina, in his nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, and again during the first presidential debate:

ROMNEY: Under the president's policies, middle-income Americans have been buried. They're just being crushed. Middle- income Americans have seen their income come down by $4,300. This is a -- this is a tax in and of itself. I'll call it the economy tax. It's been crushing.

At the same time, gasoline prices have doubled under the president. Electric rates are up. Food prices are up. Health care costs have gone up by $2,500 a family. [Presidential debate transcript, 10/3/12, via Politico] [Associated Press, 4/18/12] [NPR, 8/30/12]

Fox News Pushed The Romney Campaign To Attack Obama For Doubled Gas Prices. This past year, Fox News has relentlessly peddled the talking point that gasoline prices have almost doubled since Obama was inaugurated, suggesting the president's energy policies bear some of the blame for the increase. Fox News contributors advised the Romney campaign that they should "point to the President's role in causing these gas prices to go up." In 2011, Fox News contributor Sarah Palin falsely claimed that gasoline prices have doubled since President Obama took office because the administration is "decreasing the amount of energy in our market domestically." [Media Matters, 2/16/12] [Media Matters, 5/9/11]

O'Reilly Advised Romney To Blame Obama For Gas Prices. In September, Bill O'Reilly complained on his Fox News show that "nobody is mentioning gas prices [...] not even the Republicans are going there, and I don't know why. If I were Romney and Ryan, I'd be going all over the place on the gas prices[.]" At the time, Fox News was frequently airing a misleading graphic juxtaposing today's gasoline prices with those on the day of Obama's inauguration, implying he is to blame for the increase. [Media Matters, 9/7/12]

FACT: President Cannot Control Gas Prices, Which Plummeted Before Obama Took Office Due To Recession

Gasoline Prices Plummeted In Late 2008 In The Midst Of A Massive Recession. The following chart shows that oil and gasoline prices fell sharply in late 2008 just before President Obama took office (displayed as an index to show the correlation between oil and gas prices):

[Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, accessed 10/17/12]

Wall Street Journal: Gas Price Attack Ignores That Gas Prices Are Based On A Global Commodity. In March 2012, then-presidential-candidate Newt Gingrich compared gasoline prices to those at the time of Obama's inauguration and claimed: "All of this gigantic increase came from his policies." The Wall Street Journal debunked the claim, pointing out that Gingrich "ignore[d] the basic fact about U.S. gas prices: They are largely fixed by the price of crude oil, which is determined by global supply and demand." The Journal went on to explain that "[w]hen Mr. Obama was inaugurated, demand was weak due to the recession. But now it's stronger, and thus the price is higher." [Wall Street Journal, 3/10/12]

Experts: Global Market, Not U.S. Policies, Determines Gas Prices. At least 20 experts across the ideological spectrum have pointed out that gasoline prices are largely determined by global market factors that drive oil prices, so drilling more domestically will not have any noticeable effect on gas prices. [Media Matters, 3/20/12]

Statistical Analysis Shows No Correlation Between Gas Prices And U.S. Oil Production. An Associated Press analysis of 36 years of data showed "no statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and the price at the pump," underscoring the fact that any impact on price from changes in U.S. oil production is swamped by the more dominant factors influencing the oil market. [Associated Press, 3/21/12]

Conservative Media Promoted Romney's Baseless "Crony Capitalism" Charges

Romney Claimed That Inspector General "Concluded That The Administration Had Steered Money To Friends And Family." In a speech in front of Solyndra's headquarters, Romney claimed that "an independent inspector general looked at this investment and concluded that the administration had steered money to friends and family, to campaign contributors." [MSNBC.com, 5/31/12]

Romney Campaign Has Repeatedly Invoked "Crony Capitalism" In Solyndra Attacks. In a campaign ad posted by the Romney campaign after his campaign stop at Solyndra headquarters, Romney stated "crony capitalism like this does not help [the economy]." In a May 29, 2012 ad, the Romney campaign said "more than $16 billion have gone to companies like Solyndra that are linked to big Obama and Democrat donors" and claimed the Inspector General said contracts were steered to "friends and family." [Mitt Romney ad, 6/1/12]  [Mitt Romney ad, 5/29/12

Ryan: Stimulus Funded "Crony Capitalism And Corporate Welfare." In the vice presidential debate, Paul Ryan claimed the stimulus had gone partly to fund "$90 billion in green pork to campaign contributors and special interest groups" as a form of "crony capitalism and corporate welfare." [Vice Presidential debate transcript, 10/11/12, via Politico]

Right-Wing Author First Made Claim About Inspector General. Peter Schweizer, a Breitbart.com contributing editor and author, wrote in his 2011 book "Throw Them All Out that" that DOE Inspector General Gregory Friedman "has testified that contracts have been steered to 'friends and family.'" [Newsweek, 11/12/11]

Fox Pushed The "Crony Capitalism" Narrative Soon After Solyndra's Bankruptcy. Soon after Solyndra declared bankruptcy, Fox News had established a narrative: Solyndra was an example of "crony capitalism." Conservative commentator and frequent Fox News guest Michelle Malkin said "One of the hugest investors in the massively failed enterprise just happens to be one of Obama's largest funders, a man named George Kaiser ... You got crony capitalism." [Fox News, Hannity, 9/14/11, via Media Matters]

Stossel: Solyndra Is "Crony Capitalism." On the "Political Grapevine" segment of Special Report With Bret Baier, Fox's John Stossel said that of all the alleged scandals that had befallen the Obama administration, he was "most bothered by Solyndra" Stossel said "it's crony capitalism," adding "People trash capitalism, but this is crapitalism." [Fox News, Special Report With Bret Baier, 9/16/11, via Nexis]

FACT: Extensive Investigations Have Turned Up No Evidence Of Wrongdoing

TIME: Inspector General "Hasn't Confirmed" That Any Contracts Were "Steered To Friends And Family." As TIME's Michael Grunwald noted, the Inspector General's comment was actually about an open investigation, and the Inspector General "hasn't confirmed" that any contracts were "steered to friends and family":

It was a line near the end of Romney's ad that caught my attention: "The Inspector General said contracts were steered to 'friends and family.'" That sounded like news. I've spent two years in stimulus-world, and I had no idea an inspector general had said that. I asked the Romney campaign for documentation, and it produced a Newsweek article asserting that Energy Department inspector general Gregory Friedman "has testified that contracts have been steered to 'friends and family.'"

Except that Newsweek article was an excerpt from the book "Throw Them All Out," written by Peter Schweizer, a right-winger who has served as an adviser to Sarah Palin's PAC, edited one of Andrew Breitbart's websites, and written a slew of books portraying liberals as pond scum. Not exactly a disinterested source. And it turns out that the inspector general never testified that stimulus contracts were steered to friends and family. He said his office was investigating whether stimulus contracts were steered to friends and family. So far, it hasn't confirmed that any were. [TIME, 5/31/12]

A Long Investigation Turned Up No Evidence Of Wrongdoing. Bloomberg Businessweek reported earlier this year that an extensive investigation by House Republicans found no evidence of wrongdoing in the loan guarantee program. It also noted that Solyndra was seen by many business experts as promising:

 A White House source passed along some information that gives a sense of just how much time, money, and effort has been spent pursuing this investigation: House Republicans have sent 32 congressional letters, compelled 187,000 pages of administration documents, 72,000 pages of documents from Solyndra investors, 9 committee staff briefings, 5 committee hearings, and a sworn committee interview with the Obama bundler who raised money from people involved in the company. Much (but not all) of the committee's $7 million budget has been devoted to funding this inquisition. And it's turned up no evidence of wrongdoing.

One reason the investigation persists is that it's a handy pretext for demanding documents, and who knows what could turn up? But Democrats have also done a pretty lousy job of defending against the idea that something nefarious was going on. The clearest evidence that Solyndra was a worthy recipient of a government loan is that it also attracted hundreds of millions of dollars from big-name private investors and top venture capital firms, including Richard Branson, KKR, and Argonaut Private Equity[.] In 2010, the Wall Street Journal named Solyndra the top venture-backed clean-tech company. MIT Technology Review named it one of the world's 50 most innovative companies. Goldman Sachs was the lead investment banker. So the notion that Solyndra was a boondoggle for Obama cronies is silly. [Bloomberg Businessweek, 2/17/12, emphasis added] [Media Matters, 9/19/11]

Kaiser's Family Foundation Invested In Solyndra, As Did Some Republicans. Solyndra's largest investor was the George Kaiser Family Foundation, founded by Obama donor George Kaiser. But as a foundation spokesman told PolitiFact, Kaiser "could not withdraw money from the foundation for his private use ... That investment in Solyndra would not have benefitted Mr. Kaiser personally in any way." Solyndra's second largest investor was Madrone Captial Partners, which is linked to the Walton family, who are major Republican donors. The CEO of Solyndra was reportedly a registered Repbulican and one of Solyndra's lobbyists was Bill Weld, a "semi-prominent supporter of Mitt Romney," according to the Huffington Post. [Politifact, 11/2/11] [Huffington Post5/31/12] [Media Matters9/19/11]

Bush Admin. Advanced 16 Projects, Including Solyndra, Out Of 143 Submissions. The Department of Energy's Loan Guarantee Program was created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and expanded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The Bush administration's Department of Energy selected Solyndra from 143 submissions to move forward in the process. During the final days of the Bush administration, the DOE's loan guarantee credit committee, consisting of career officials, said that although the Solyndra project "appears to have merit," the committee needed more information in several areas before it could recommend approval of a conditional commitment. The committee "remand[ed]" the loan "without prejudice" for "further development of information." Afterwards, officials at the Department of Energy under the Bush Administration developed a schedule for due diligence on the Solyndra project, envisioning completion in March 2009. And indeed, in March, the same credit committee composed of career civil servants recommended the Solyndra's application for approval. [Media Matters, 9/19/11]

Media Crafted Romney's False Claim That The Stimulus Supported Finnish Electric Cars

Romney Said Fisker Used Stimulus Funding To Make Electric Cars In Finland. In an ad titled "Where Did All The Money Go?" the Romney campaign claimed the "Obama stimulus money" went to "electric cars from Finland." Romney repeated this claim on the campaign trail in Irwin, PA:

"I am ashamed to say that we're seeing our President hand out money to the businesses of campaign contributors, when he gave money, $500 million in loans to a company called Fisker that makes high end electric cars, and they make the cars now in Finland. That is wrong and it's got to stop. That kind of crony capitalism does not create jobs and it does not create jobs here." [PolitiFact, 7/20/12] [Mitt Romney.com, 7/17/12]

Ryan Repeated "Electric Cars In Finland" Claim In VP Debate. Discussing allegations of "crony capitalism" in the vice presidential debate, Paul Ryan asked Vice President Biden: "Was it a good idea to spend taxpayer dollars on electric cars in Finland, or on windmills in China?" [Vice Presidential debate transcript, 10/11/12, via Politico]

Fox First Falsely Claimed That The Loan Was Going To Build Cars In Finland. In 2009, Fox News falsely claimed that Fisker is a "European Car Company" and anchor Martha MacCallum said "you've got all of this U.S. taxpayer money to encourage the building of fuel-efficient cars, but it's going to Finland." [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 9/29/09]

ABC Pushed Misleading Reports About The Finnish Facility. ABC News rehashed Fox News' old story in an article titled "Car Company Gets U.S. Loan, Builds Cars In Finland," failed to note that Fisker had a contract to assemble the Karma in Finland before the company ever received funds from Department of Energy. [ABC News, 10/25/11, via Media Matters]

Fox News: "Federal Loan ... For Finland?" Fox News used the ABC story to issue a new round of reports with the misleading chyron: "Federal Loan ... For Finland?" [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 10/21/11, via Media Matters] 

FACT: Fisker Loan Spent Exclusively In America

Federal Money Spent Exclusively On U.S. Facilities. The New York Times reported that though the Fisker Karma is being assembled in Finland, stimulus money was only used to hire workers in California and Michigan. Roger Ormisher, Fisker's senior director of global communications, told the Times: "Every single dollar of the loan has been used in the U.S." [New York Times, 7/11/12]

DOE Said From The Beginning Most Of Parts Would Come From U.S. When DOE first announced the conditional loan in 2009, it clarified:

Engineers will also design tools and equipment and develop manufacturing processes.  This work will be conducted at Fisker's Pontiac, Michigan office with support from its headquarters in Irvine, California.  While the final assembly of the Karma will be done overseas, more than 65 percent (based on cost) of the parts required for Karma will come from U.S. suppliers. [Department of Energy, 9/22/09]

Finland Assembly Was Under Contract Prior To DOE Loan. The Karma was already being assembled in Finland and under contract when DOE approached the company with an offer that if Fisker could "[f]ind a U.S. site to build the Kx [a second, cheaper model], [then] DOE would agree to fund both projects together." The Karma used mostly components made in the U.S., "so a federal loan would help U.S. parts makers." [Wall Street Journal, 12/15/09, via Factiva] 

PolitiFact Ruled Finland Car Claim "False." PolitiFact ruled the claim that stimulus funds went to electric cars from Finland as a crony capitalist deal "False" because the money came as a loan from the DOE's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program, which predates the Obama administration, and "there is no evidence that any government dollars paid for work done by Finnish workers":

The Romney campaign ad said that stimulus dollars paid for jobs in Finland. There is nothing accurate in this claim. The federal loan guarantees the company received were not part of the stimulus, and there is no evidence that any government dollars paid for work done by Finnish workers.

Ornisher, the company spokesman, told us the contract to produce the cars in Finland had been signed before the federal loan was approved. Also, measures were put in place to ensure that taxpayer dollars only went for work done in America. [PolitiFact, 7/20/12]

Fisker Is Based In California, Not Finland. Fisker "was founded in 2007 and is based in Irvine, California," according to its BusinessWeek profile. [BusinessWeek, 10/18/12]

Conservative Media Initiated Romney Campaign's Misleading Claims About Chinese Wind Turbines

Campaign Ad Claimed Stimulus Money Went To "Windmills From China." A Romney campaign ad from July alleged that Obama stimulus money went in part to "Windmills from China[.]" [New York Times, 7/18/12]

Romney Called Obama "Outsourcer-In-Chief" For Wind Energy Investments. In remarks at a July town hall meeting in Grand Junction, CO, Mitt Romney accused President Obama of "outsourcing a good deal of American jobs by putting money" into solar and wind energy:

"But it is interesting that when it comes to outsourcing, that this president has been outsourcing a good deal of American jobs himself by putting money into energy companies, solar and wind energy companies that end up making their products outside the United States. If there is an outsourcer-in-chief, it's the President of the United States, not the guy who's running to replace him." [Mitt Romney remarks at town hall in Grand Junction, CO, 7/10/12]

Ryan Said Taxpayer Dollars Were Spent On Windmills In China. Paul Ryan asked Vice President Biden in the vice presidential debate: "Was it a good idea to spend taxpayer dollars on electric cars in Finland, or on windmills in China?" [Vice Presidential debate transcript, 10/11/12, via Politico]  

WSJ's Moore: Stimulus Creating Jobs, "Just Not Here In The U.S." In April 2010, the Wall Street Journal's Steve Moore appeared on Fox News to discuss high-speed rail lines under construction. Moore took the opportunity to claim the stimulus bill is creating jobs, "just not here in the U.S." He added "this isn't the first major project where money has gone to China. We talked about the wind turbines built in China too." [Fox News, On The Record With Greta Van Susteren, 4/8/10, via Nexis]

Fox's Bolling: Why Were "Billions Sent To China To Build Wind Turbines"? On Fox Business, Eric Bolling asked, "President Obama's stimulus plan was meant to stimulate our economy, right? So, why then were billions, billions, sent to China to build wind turbines that [sic] according to Democratic Senator Robert Casey from Pennsylvania who isn't alone in his opinion." Later, Rebecca Diamond added "there is even one report floating up there by ABC did this investigation, there's 79 percent of this stimulus money to this wind turbine program going to China. This is ridiculous." [Fox Business, Happy Hour, 4/7/10, via Nexis]

Palin Promoted The False Claim That "80 Percent" Of Money Spent On Wind Energy Went Toward "Wind Turbines Built In China." A 2010 Investor's Business Daily editorial claimed that "nearly 80% [of stimulus money spent on wind power] has gone to foreign manufacturers of wind turbines." Fox News contributor Sarah Palin later linked to the post, claiming that "80% of the $2 billion [the Obama administration] spent on alternative energy went to purchase wind turbines built in China." Politifact rated the claim "False." [Investor's Business Daily, 2/11/10] [PolitiFact, 2/23/10]

Wash Times: Stimulus Creates Jobs In China. A Washington Times editorial titled "Stimulus creates jobs in China" claimed wind energy spending from the stimulus created 4,500 jobs overseas, "far more overseas work than the stimulus money has created in the United States." Based partly on the presence of imported foreign-built wind turbines, it went on to conclude that "the stimulus package couldn't help but fail to work as advertised." [The Washington Times, 11/13/09

FACT: Stimulus Created Thousands Of U.S. Wind Jobs

Report: Stimulus Created 51,000 U.S. Jobs In Wind Turbine Industry. The Washington Post noted that the stimulus created about 51,000 jobs in the U.S. wind industry, but that some tax credits went to foreign firms that manufactured turbines overseas because the U.S. was simply unable to meet the demand for wind turbines at the time:

Indeed, U.S. manufacturers simply don't yet have the capacity to make all of the turbines. A report by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (which is part of the Energy Department) estimated that about 51,000 U.S. jobs were created in the wind-turbine industry by the stimulus funding. The report estimated the number of jobs theoretically could have been more than 80,000 if the money had been restricted to U.S. manufacturers, but there is no way the U.S. industry could have handled the demand. Thus, "a 100% domestic content requirement could yield significant near-term domestic job losses relative to the current program design," the report said.

The allegation in the ad is based in part on a joint ABC News/Investigative Reporting Workshop investigation from February that found as much as 79 percent of stimulus money allotted for wind energy had gone to foreign developers, but most of those companies were in Europe, not China, and some of them manufacture their wind turbines in the United States. By last month, the percentage of wind energy stimulus funds that went to foreign firms fell to 54 percent, according to the Investigative Reporting Workshop.

Our report also cited a joint U.S./Chinese venture in Texas that may get up to $450 million in stimulus funding. But that project has not yet received a dime of stimulus money. [Washington Post4/30/12]

ABC: "Less Than .000031 Percent" Of Stimulus Went To Wind Turbines Made In China. ABC News reported that National Republican Campaign Committee ads alleging the stimulus "created renewable energy jobs in China" was "misleading": "Out of the 33,000 wind turbines in use in America today, ABC News could find only three that were made in China with stimulus dollars. They cost less than $2.5 million -- less than .000031 percent of the $814 billion stimulus program." [ABC News, 10/27/10]

PolitiFact Ruled The Claim "Mostly False." PolitiFact rated the Romney campaign ad's claim "mostly false" because only a tiny portion of stimulus dollars went to building turbines in China and the stimulus money created many American jobs. [PolitiFact, 7/23/12]

Conservative Media Cooked Up Romney Surrogates' Claims About Mexican Solar Panels

RNC Campaign Site: Taxpayer Money Went To "Solar Panels In Mexico." According to a campaign site set up by the Republican National Committee, taxpayers' "hard earned money went abroad for jobs that weren't created in the United States," including "solar panels in Mexico." [Washington Post, 7/12/12]

Priebus: Mexican Solar Panels "Funded By Your Tax Dollars." In a Huffington Post op-ed, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called President Obama "the real Outsourcer-in-Chief" and claimed "Mexican solar panels" were "funded by your tax dollars," among other examples of stimulus funds allegedly going to companies overseas. [Huffington Post, 7/10/12]

Fox's Doocy: SunPower Is "Not Even In The United States Of America." On Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy teased a segment on SunPower saying, "Another failing solar company, and another federal loan, but this one? Not even in the United States of America." Brian Kilmeade teased the same segment, saying "could it be bigger than the Solyndra scandal? Another federal loan handed over to another failing solar company, but this one, in Mexico."  [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/12/11]

Michelle Malkin: Loan Guarantee Will Create Jobs "Not In America, But In Mexico." On Hannity, Michelle Malkin said of SunPower's loan guarantee, "when we're talking about the need for American jobs, this thing is going to create countless jobs. Where? Not in America, but in Mexico, where they manufacture the photovoltaic solar panels that go into these solar ranches that this company deals in." [Fox News, Hannity, 10/12/11]

Fox's Guilfoyle: SunPower "Export[ed] The 15 Jobs" Resulting From The Loan Guarantee. From the October 12 edition of Fox News' The Five:

GREG GUTFELD: SunPower received $1.2 billion in guaranteed loans, they created, I believe, 15 jobs. So if you divide 1.2 billion by 15 -- I didn't do the math -- it's a lot. So it's pretty crazy stuff, plus it's not as fun as saying Solyndra.
KIMBERLY GUILYFOYLE: It's a manufacturing plant in Mexicali, Mexico. Way to export the 15 jobs that cost a couple bil' -- really? [Fox News, The Five, 10/12/11]

FACT: Loan Guarantee Supported Construction Of Plant in California

PolitiFact: Mexico Claim "Pants On Fire" False. PolitiFact rated an Americans For Prosperity ad in support of Romney "pants on fire" false, pointing out that the loan will go to a project in California: 

Sure, taxpayer money was originally approved for a California solar company that also happened to open a plant in Mexico. But that loan -- not tax credits, as the ad claims -- will go to a New Jersey company for a solar project in California, employing construction workers in the state, using mostly California-built solar panels, to create solar power that'll be purchased by a California utility. [PolitiFact, 5/2/12]

SunPower Is Based In California. SunPower is headquartered in San Jose, California. Sun Power states that it has approximately 1,100 employees in 4 states and that of its 26 parts suppliers, 22 are U.S.-based. [E-mail correspondence, 10/12/11]

Loan Guarantee Supported Construction Jobs To Build Plant And Solar Panels. The $1.2 billion loan guarantee for the California Valley Solar Ranch, a joint project of SunPower Corporation and NRG Energy, will support the construction of a solar generating facility in California that is expected to create 350 construction jobs and 15 permanent jobs, not including indirect jobs. Separate from its loan guarantee project, SunPower announced in August that it would open a manufacturing plant in Mexico. But it also opened a manufacturing facility in Milpitas, California. SunPower stated in an April 12 press release that the Milpitas factory would supply panels to the California Valley Solar Ranch project:

One of the SunPower systems that will be served with solar panels from the Milpitas plant is the 250-MW California Valley Solar Ranch (CVSR) in San Luis Obispo County, Calif., the company's first central-station PV power plant. The project is planned to begin construction this summer for which it will hire 350 people. The project will create $315 million in economic benefit to California, power approximately 100,000 homes and help the state achieve its Renewable Portfolio Standard. [SunPower, 4/12/11] [Department Of Energy, accessed 10/12/11]

NRG Energy -- Not SunPower -- Is Responsible For The Loan.  NRG Energy, Inc. bought the project, the California Valley Solar Ranch, shortly before the DOE loan guarantee was finalized. The Contra Costa Times reported that NRG is responsible for paying back the loan:

Industry analysts say San Jose-based SunPower is struggling but nowhere near bankruptcy, and they describe the loan guarantee as low-risk for taxpayers. More significantly, Carlsbad-based NRG Energy, not SunPower, is on the hook to repay the loan, according to company representatives. NRG bought the project before the federal backing came through, although SunPower will design and build the solar farm in San Luis Obispo County. [Contra Costa Times10/18/11]

Conservative Media Pushed Romney's Misleading Claims About Coal Regulations

Romney: EPA Is "Out Of Control," Trying To "Crush Our Ability To Have Energy." Romney said on Fox News:

I think the EPA has gotten completely out of control for a very simple reason. It is a tool in the hands of the President to crush the private enterprise system, to crush our ability to have energy whether its oil, gas, coal, nuclear. There's a real effort on the part of some in the President's party that don't like the American enterprise system, and are trying to find a way to do everything they can to impede the growth of our economy and our energy independence. [Fox News, Republican Presidential Forum Special, 12/04/11, via Crooks and Liars]

Romney Ads Decry Obama's Supposed "War On Coal." A Romney campaign ad titled "War On Coal" says "President Obama is ruining the coal industry" and highlights Romney's support for coal. Another ad warns coal miners: "Obama wages war on coal while we lose jobs to China, who's using more coal every day. Now your job is in danger." [Romney campaign, accessed 10/18/12] [Romney campaign, 9/27/12]

Romney: Obama Imposing "Regulations Designed To 'Bankrupt' The Coal Industry." Romney's campaign website states:

Rather than embrace the nation's abundant energy resources, the President has used endless delays, reviews, litigation, and overregulation to both slow their development and elevate his chosen "green" alternatives. He has gone so far as to impose regulations designed to "bankrupt" the coal industry, and his Administration was held in contempt of federal court for illegally imposing a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. [Romney campaign, accessed 10/18/12]

Romney Campaign Says Clean Air Act Is Being Used As An "Excuse" For A "Job-Killing, Big Government Agenda." Politico reported:

Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said the campaign stands by the charge that the president is out to kill the coal industry. With a cap-and-trade bill dead, Obama has said he'd use the EPA to deal with climate change and air pollution issues.

"The Clean Air Act requires some regulation, but it does not require the unreasonable and economically disastrous approach taken by the Obama administration," Williams said. "This is simply an excuse used to justify President Obama's job-killing, big government agenda." [Politico, 10/6/12]

Fox's Bolling: EPA Is Trying To "Shut Down Coal." On Fox Business' Follow The Money, host Eric Bolling claimed that the EPA is "doing everything in their power to shut down coal." Fox News contributor Monica Crowley added, "Well, from day one, this administration has had a war on all natural resources we use for energy, war on oil, war on natural gas, war on coal. This is all part of a social engineering strategy in the energy sector." [Fox Business, Follow The Money, 7/27/11]

Fox Contributor Borelli: EPA Is "A Job Killing Machine." On Freedom Watch with Judge Napolitano, Fox News contributor Deneen Borrelli asked "Is anyone keeping an eye on the Environmental Protection Agency? The EPA is a job-killing machine with the onslaught of regulations that they're hammering down on the fossil fuel industry. The utilities are going out of business, you have coal companies going out of business, it's insane." [Fox Business, Freedom Watch with Judge Napolitano8/10/11]

Washington Times: Obama Is Waging A "War On Coal." Washington Times editorial stated "There's no doubt the Obama administration is waging an all-out war on affordable energy," citing the EPA's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. It added: "Ending the war on coal is the first step to reviving the U.S. economy." [Washington Times8/21/12]

Weekly Standard's Payne: "EPA Has Done An End Run Around The Legislative Process." The Weekly Standard's Henry Payne wrote that "Obama's EPA has done an end run around the legislative process" to wage a "War on Coal" that has been "devastating to businesses and communities across the eastern coal belt." [The Weekly Standard9/24/12]

FACT: Regulations Were Legally Required And Long Overdue; Natural Gas Main Factor Behind Coal Decline

Bush Sr.'s EPA Chief: Previous Administrations Handed Regulatory "Grenades" To Obama. Greenwire reported in December 2010 that George H.W. Bush's EPA Administrator acknowledged that "the Obama administration has far less leeway than the agency's critics in Congress suggest":

At a time of unprecedented rancor over the costs and benefits of U.S. EPA rules, the Obama administration has far less leeway than the agency's critics in Congress suggest, according to the man who led the agency under George H.W. Bush. Many of the most costly new regulations were left behind by the George W. Bush administration, William Reilly told an audience at the National Press Club yesterday. Some of the rules were ordered by Congress but were never put in place, forcing EPA to settle with environmental groups. Others have court deadlines from when the last administration's policies were rejected in court. "They're like little hand grenades that have been rolled out there by previous administrators, and now they're ticking," Reilly said. "They're very difficult, and some of them quite expensive, rules." [Greenwire, 12/17/10]

National Journal: Coal Industry Privately Acknowledges That Obama Administration "Inherited A Stack Of Obligations." A National Journal article noted that "a stack of court-ordered environmental regulations, some dating back 20 years" met EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson when she took office. The article also said: "Privately, coal chiefs and Republicans say they understand that Jackson inherited a stack of obligations and had to act." [National Journal9/22/11]

Energy Industry Executives: EPA Clean Air Rules Are "Long Overdue."  In response to a 2010 Wall Street Journal editorial that characterized EPA air pollution rules as an "assault" on business, energy industry executives noted that these rules "are required under the Clean Air Act," and that "the electric sector has known that these rules were coming." They added:

For over a decade, companies have recognized that the industry would need to install controls to comply with the act's air toxicity requirements, and the technology exists to cost effectively control such emissions, including mercury and acid gases. The EPA is now under a court deadline to finalize that rule before the end of 2011 because of the previous delays.

To suggest that plants are retiring because of the EPA's regulations fails to recognize that lower power prices and depressed demand are the primary retirement drivers. The units retiring are generally small, old and inefficient. These retirements are long overdue. [Wall Street Journal,11/22/10] [Wall Street Journal12/8/10]

WSJ: "The Main Reason That Coal As A Source For Electricity Is In Decline Is Because Natural Gas Is Abundant And Cheap." A Wall Street Journal blog post stated:

First, the main reason that coal as a source for electricity is in decline is because natural gas is abundant and cheap. This year so far, coal has produced 18% less electricity than last year; natural gas has produced 30% more. Cheap gas, not onerous environmental rules, is largely behind that switch.

Second, despite what Mr. Romney said, employment in the coal industry is not in free fall. Instead, coal mining jobs are at their highest level since 1995. Overall employment in the coal industry is also up in recent years--some 30% since 2004. [Wall Street Journal, 10/17/12]

CRS: Coal Retirements "Caused By Cheap, Abundant Natural Gas As Much As By EPA Regulations." A report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service explained that older coal plants are being replaced with cleaner, cheaper natural gas "almost regardless of EPA rules":

The primary impacts of many of the rules will largely be on coal-fired plants more than 40 years old that have not, until now, installed state-of-the-art pollution controls. Many of these plants are inefficient and are being replaced by more efficient combined cycle natural gas plants, a development likely to be encouraged in the price of competing fuel--natural gas--continues to be low, almost regardless of EPA rules.

[...]

EPA's modeling confirmed that the plants likely to be retired are older, smaller, and less frequently used: the agency concludes, for example, that under the MACT rule [Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule that will require that utilities limit hazardous air emissions using the Maximum Available Control Technology (MACT)]  the average unit to be retired will be 51 years old, with an average capacity of 109 Mw (versus 278 Mw for units that will continue operation), and has operated only 56% of the time. Some of these units will be replaced by new capacity, of which some will be coal-fired, but most replacements are likely to be natural gas combined cycle units. Even before the advent of the "train-wreck" rules, very few coal-fired plants were being built. As shown in Figure 6, since 1990, more than 80% of new capacity has been natural gas-fired. These plants are highly efficient; they are cost-competitive with coal; and they emit no SO2, no mercury, and no other hazardous air pollutants. Without scrubber sludge to manage, they also do not need to meet effluent guidelines. Natural gas-fired power plants also have an advantage with regard to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions: for the same amount of electric generation, they emit only half the GHGs of coal-fired units.

[...]

In short, the "train wreck" facing the coal-fired electric generating industry, to the extent that it exists, is being caused by cheap, abundant natural gas as much as by EPA regulations. As John Rowe, Chairman and CEO of Exelon Corporation, recently stated: "These regulations will not kill coal.... In fact, modeling done on the impacts of these rules shows that up to 50% of retirements are due to the current economics of the plant due to natural gas and coal prices."  [Congressional Research Service, 8/8/11]

Conservative Media Instigated Romney's Criticism Of Federal Lands Production

Romney Said None Of New Oil Production Came On Federal Lands. In the second presidential debate, Romney repeatedly claimed that President Obama cut oil production on federal lands, saying at one point that "none of" additional oil production during Obama's presidency "came on federal land." [Presidential debate transcript, 10/16/12, via New York Times]

Romney Energy Plan Claimed Obama Is Trying To "Shut Down" Production. In its official position paper on energy policy, the Romney campaign claimed that President Obama "has intentionally sought to shut down oil, gas, and coal production in pursuit of his own alternative energy agenda[,]" as evidenced by the fact that  "the energy revolution taking place on state and privately-held lands across America, oil and gas production on federal lands somehow plummeted last year." [Romney campaign, 8/23/12]

Romney: Oil Production Increases "Not On Government Land." Mitt Romney claimed "all of the increase in natural gas and oil has happened on private land, not on government land" and said the Obama administration has "cut the number of permits and licenses in half" on government land:

ROMNEY: Energy is critical, and the president pointed out correctly that production of oil and gas in the U.S. is up. But not due to his policies. In spite of his policies.

Mr. President, all of the increase in natural gas and oil has happened on private land, not on government land. On government land, your administration has cut the number of permits and licenses in half. If I'm president, I'll double them, and also get the -- the oil from offshore and Alaska. And I'll bring that pipeline in from Canada. [Presidential debate transcript, 10/3/12, via Politico]

Fox News Claimed Obama Is Reducing Supply Of Energy From Federal Lands. As oil and gas production has surged under Obama, conservative media turned to specifically saying that production on federal lands has dropped under Obama. Fox News reporter Jim Angle said "the president is actually reducing the supply of energy from federal lands, not increasing it," and "three-quarters of increased production has been on private land while the areas under the president's control are now producing less. In fact, in 2011, production on federal lands actually declined by 275,000 barrels a day." [Fox News, Special Report, 4/2/12, via Media Matters]

Fox Guest: What We're Seeing On Federal Lands Is "Literally A Shutdown of Energy Production." Fox's Follow The Money hosted Industry for Energy Research's John Mavretich to say that the reason for "booming numbers" in oil and gas employment was "because the federal government literally manages almost no land in the states." He later stated "What we are seeing on federal lands is literally a shutdown of energy production." [Fox News, Follow The Money, 7/26/11, via Nexis]

FACT: Oil Production, Including On Federal Lands, Is Up Under Obama

So Far, Production On Federal Lands Is Slightly Higher During Obama Years Than Bush Years. The Columbia Journalism Review reported:

The data in the [nonpartisan Energy Information Administration] report, which go back to 2003, show that there was indeed a large decline in oil production on federal lands and waters in 2011. But that observation belies the fact that federal lands and waters were exceptionally productive during 2010, outstripping any year's productivity during the Bush administration. Indeed, the average productivity on federal land and waters during the four Bush years, 2003-2008, was 634 million barrels per year. During the three Obama years, 2009-2011, it was 676 million barrels. During the Bush years, federal lands produced roughly 33 percent of the national output on average. During the Obama years, they produced roughly 34 percent. [Columbia Journalism Review, 3/22/12]

CRS: "Oil Production On Federal Lands Is Up Slightly In 2011 When Compared To 2007." A report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service stated: "On federal lands, there was also an increase in production from 2008-2009 and another increase in 2010 (258,000 b/d), then a decline in 2011. Overall, oil production on federal lands is up slightly in 2011 when compared to 2007." The following chart displays the data provided in the CRS report:

[Data from Congressional Research Service, 3/20/12]

CRS: Under Obama, There Was An Increase In Production On Federal And Non-Federal Lands. A 2011 report from the Congressional Research Service noted a "major increase in oil production from 2008-2009 (231,000 barrels per day (b/d)), a significant decline in 2010, then another surge in 2011" on non-federal lands and stated:  "On federal lands, there was also an increase in production from 2008-2009 and another increase in 2010 (258,000 b/d), then a decline in 2011. Overall, oil production on federal lands is up slightly in 2011 when compared to 2007." [Congressional Research Service, 3/20/12]

CNN: Romney Claims "Not On The Mark." A CNN.com fact check found Romney's claim that "all of the increase" in oil and gas production has been on private land to be "an overstatement" and said "Romney's claim that Obama's administration has "cut the number of permits and licenses in half" for federal lands is overstated. It pointed out that even the conservative Institute for Energy Research wouldn't pin any production decreases exclusively on Obama administration policies. [CNN, 10/4/12]

Oil Production Fell Under Bush, Has Risen Under Obama. The rise in overall production has complicated the conservative media narrative, forcing them to focus on federal lands production. Consumer Energy Report's Robert Rapier examined domestic oil production under President Obama and pointed out: "During the eight years of the Bush Administration, annual domestic oil production fell every year ... During the first three years of the Obama Administration, domestic oil production has gone up every year." He posted the following graphic to illustrate the shift:

[Consumer Energy Report, 1/6/12]

Media Prompted Romney's Efforts To Falsely Tie Keystone XL To Gas Prices

Romney: High Gas Prices The Result Of Obama Turning Down Pipeline. On Fox News Sunday, Romney claimed gasoline prices were the "result of [the] president's policies to turn down the pipeline, the Keystone pipeline from Canada":

Look, these gasoline prices are hurting American families, and that pain and the result of president's policies to turn down the pipeline, the Keystone pipeline from Canada, and at the same time put $500 million into Solyndra, these policies are not working. His policies are hurting the American people. And they want to have someone that will finally take advantage of our energy resources and I will. [Fox News, Fox News Sunday, 3/18/12, via Nexis]

Romney Implied Delaying Keystone XL Led To Higher Gas Prices. At a campaign rally in Virginia, Mitt Romney implied the Keystone XL pipeline would have had an effect on gasoline prices, stating "Gas is at twice the price as when [President Obama] came in. He cut in half permits for drilling. He said no to the Keystone Pipeline." [FoxNews.com, 10/14/12]

Campaign Memo Claimed Obama "Want[s] Higher Gas Prices" Because He "Blocked The Keystone XL Pipeline." A memo titled "A Clear Choice In This Election- Gas Prices," posted on the Romney campaign's website, offered as evidence that Obama "does in fact want higher gas prices" the fact that he "blocked the Keystone XL pipeline, which is preventing billions of barrels of discounted Canadian oil from reaching American refineries." [Romney campaign, 10/10/12]

Media Repeatedly Tied Keystone XL To Gas Prices. Numerous broadcast and cable news networks connected Keystone XL with rising gas prices early in 2012, with Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer proclaiming "So long as gasoline is getting higher, that's all the Republicans have to say is 'Keystone.'" [Media Matters, 2/23/12] [Media Matters, 3/20/12]

Fox Guest: Obama Blocking Pipeline That "Could Actually Bring Gas Prices Down." Regular Fox guest Jonathan Hoenig, in discussing Keystone XL, criticized Obama for being "willing to use force to block a company that actually wants to invest in this country [by] creating the jobs, creating the energy that could actually bring gas prices down and power the economy forward." [Fox Business, Cavuto, 1/18/12, via Media Matters

RedState: Take Lead On Keystone XL To Reduce Gas Prices. In February, RedState offered a list of "10 Ways Obama Could Reduce Gasoline Prices Now" and included "taking the lead on the Keystone XL Pipeline" in the first item. [RedState, 2/25/12]

Examiner Columnist: Keystone XL Is Step One To Lower Gas Prices. A column by Manhattan Institute fellow Diana Furchtgott-Roth in the Washington Examiner listed "Approve the Keystone XL pipeline" as the first item in a "five-step plan to lower gasoline prices." [Washington Examiner, 10/9/12

FACT: Keystone XL Would Not Lower Gas Prices Significantly -- It Might Even Raise Them

Economists And Experts: Keystone XL Would Have Miniscule Effect On Gas Prices. Energy expert Severin Borenstein, among many others, has said the Keystone XL pipeline would "bring additional oil to the world market, starting around 2020. The effect on oil prices then will be miniscule, the effect in the next couple years nonexistent." An economist hired by TransCanada, the company trying to build the Keystone XL pipeline, told Media Matters in February that his disputed analysis indicates an impact of "around 3.5-4 cents per gallon of gasoline at current prices" once the pipeline "was fully implemented and flowing reasonably close to capacity" but added that "a modest change of this nature will often be swamped by the day-to-day factors that impact market prices." [Media Matters, 2/23/12]

Wash. Post Could Not Find A Single Expert That Claimed Pipeline Would Impact Gas Prices Today. In response to a statement from Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, about the necessity of the Keystone XL pipeline to "bring secure energy to America, support the creation of thousands of jobs, and help bring down prices at the pump," The Washington Post stated that it "could not find any experts, even those referred to us by Upton's staff, to say that the prospect of the pipeline being built in the future would somehow impact the price of gasoline today." [Washington Post, 3/1/12]

Keystone XL Could Actually Raise Prices In The Midwest. Greenwire reported that some experts think that Keystone XL, rather than lowering gas prices, could actually slightly raise them:

"Economic theory says that what Keystone XL, or what any pipeline from Cushing to the Gulf will do, is raise crude prices for Gulf Coast refiners but not necessarily affect gas prices," Lynn Westfall, executive vice president at the Dallas-based firm Turner, Mason and Co. and a former chief economist for Tesoro Corp., said in an interview.

"So, in essence, it reduces the profits of Gulf Coast refineries."

Veteran energy economist Philip Verleger, an adviser to the Ford and Carter administrations, questioned whether that prediction is realistic. In a 2009 report to Canada's National Energy Board, he noted, pipeline sponsor TransCanada Corp. estimated that a path to the Gulf would be worth as much as $3.9 billion in annual profit increases for Canadian oil companies.

"If the Canadians are saying it's not going to raise prices at the pump, that's trying to reverse what people have been saying all along, which is that higher crude prices are being passed on to consumers," Verleger said in an interview. "It defies comprehension that they could assume refiners are just going to absorb the cost." [Greenwire, 1/31/12]

Some experts told Media Matters a similar story:

Canadian economist Andrew Leach said "I can't see any significant reason for KXL to lower gas prices," adding, "Long term, it's probably close to a wash, but if anything, it's a small increase from eliminating the crude glut in the Midwest." Borenstein said something similar: "If anything it will raise gas prices slightly in the Midwest by relieving the bottleneck on getting oil out of that area." [Media Matters, 2/23/12]

FactCheck: Nothing Preventing Canada From Sending Oil Now. FactCheck.org criticized the claim that delaying Keystone XL would raise gas prices, pointing out there is already ample pipeline capacity from Canada:

[T]here's nothing to prevent more Canadian oil from coming into the U.S. right now, should Canada be able and willing to send it. Existing cross-border pipelines already have much more capacity than they are using. Those pipelines have the capacity to bring in more than 1 million barrels per day of additional Canadian oil, according to a study produced for the U.S. State Department by EnSys Energy & Systems Inc. of Lexington, Mass., in December 2010. And the study predicts that surplus capacity will persist at least until the year 2020, even if the Keystone is never built (see table 3-4). The 700,000 barrels that [Sen. Mitch] McConnell refers to is the additional surplus capacity that the Keystone's northern leg would provide. [FactCheck.org, 3/30/12]

Conservative Media Wrote Romney's Misleading Narrative On The BP Spill

Romney Campaign Accused Obama Of Working To "Shut Down" Offshore Drilling. The Romney campaign claims that the Obama administration "has worked systematically to shut down" offshore drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf. [Romney campaign, 8/23/12]

Romney Campaign: Moratorium After BP Spill Part Of A Never Let A "Crisis Go To Waste" Political Strategy. A Romney campaign document states that Obama didn't "want a serious crisis to go to waste," and so he used the spill as "political cover" for a moratorium:

Oil is obviously one of our most crucial energy resources and the single most important fuel for our transportation needs. But the 2010 BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico provided political cover for the implementation of the Obama administration's dangerously short-sighted energy policy. "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste" is the notorious maxim of the President's former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. And here it was put into practice once again. The result was a sweeping moratorium on underwater drilling that destroyed more than 10,000 jobs and cost $1 billion in lost wages. [Romney campaign, accessed 10/10/12

Erickson: Obama Using BP Spill "As An Excuse" To " Shut Down Existing Drilling In The Gulf." In a column published by Human Events, CNN contributor Erick Erickson wrote:

[T]he Obama Administration has shut down existing drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, using the Deep Water Horizon accident as an excuse. When a federal judge overturned the original moratorium, the Obama Administration imposed a second one. [Human Events, 3/13/11]

After BP Spill, Beck Said Obama May "Ban" Drilling As Part Of A "Never Let A Crisis Go To Waste" Political Strategy. Former Fox News host Glenn Beck also suggested that the moratorium was part of a "never let a crisis go to waste" political strategy:

BECK: By now, you know, Rahm Emanuel has never let a crisis go to waste sentiment. Looks like we're following it to a t.

[...]

You watch the reaction from the government with this oil spill. Environmental and economic crisis. This could cost the economy $33 billion. Is this bad? It's really bad! We don't want to regulate offshore drilling or ban it, but we have to. [Fox News, Beck, 5/3/10, via Nexis]

Hannity: Obama "Using" BP Spill To Potentially "Stop Offshore Driling" Is An Example Of "Never Let A Good Crisis Go To Waste." Fox News host Sean Hannity said:

HANNITY: You know Rahm Emanuel said it, and Hillary said it, Senator, and the president himself said it, never let a good crisis go to waste. Now the president is talking about using this to stop offshore drilling and -- on the one hand and to advance his cap and tax policies. [Fox News, Hannity, 6/3/10, via Nexis]

Investor's Business Daily: "Obama Shut Down Most Gulf Of Mexico Drilling." An Investor's Business Daily editorial stated: "In the wake of the BP oil spill, Obama shut down most Gulf of Mexico drilling and even after the moratorium was officially lifted, it continued through a glacial permitting process." [Investor's Business Daily, 4/9/12]

FACT: Offshore Production Is Higher Now Than Under Bush

FactCheck.org: Moratorium Allowed "Existing Offshore Wells" To Continue To Produce. Addressing the claim that "the Obama administration shut down the entire offshore oil and gas industry" after the 2010 BP oil spill, FactCheck.org explained:

That's not true. 

The administration halted the drilling of all new wells for one month. And the Interior Department issued a months-long moratorium on deepwater drilling. New safety requirements also slowed down the permitting process for shallow-water drilling.

But existing offshore wells continued to pump out natural gas and oil. [FactCheck.org, 7/27/12] 

Boston Globe: Total Offshore Production Was Higher In 2011 Than When Obama Took Office. Fact-checking Romney's claim during the second presidential debate that oil production on federal lands has dropped under President Obama, The Boston Globe noted: "Offshore drilling went from 462 million barrels during the final year of the Bush administration to 514 million last year." [Boston Globe, 10/17/12] 

New York Times: "Gulf Production Is Rapidly Ramping Up Again" After Moratorium. The New York Times noted that while oil production in the Gulf of Mexico did slow in the wake of the BP spill and federal moratorium, it is "rapidly ramping up again":

Before the BP disaster, oil production in the gulf was 1.75 million barrels a day, and it is now down to roughly 1.5 million barrels a day, 700,000 barrels below what had been projected for 2012. Still, gulf production is rapidly ramping up again, and overall domestic oil production is up 10 percent this year in a continuation of a three-year trend. [New York Times, 8/22/12]

PolitiFact: Obama Administration Has Issued Hundreds Of Offshore Drilling Permits Since BP Spill. Responding to the claim that the Obama administration has refused to grant permits for offshore drilling, PolitiFact noted:

In fact, 140 permits for new deep-water wells have been issued since the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010. More than hundred shallow water permits have also been issued since the moratorium was lifted." [PolitiFact, 4/2/12]

Wash. Post: Spill Plans Of Other Companies Had BP's Flaws. According to a Washington Post report, BP, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, Shell Oil and Exxon Mobil used oil spill response plans from the same subcontractor, with some listing the phone number of a marine science expert who died five years earlier and making basic errors about wildlife native to the region in sections on conservation. The Post reported:

The five oil companies submitted these plans -- each more than 500 pages long and each relying on the same reassuring language -- as part of their applications for permits to drill deepwater wells in the gulf. The firms assured the government that they could handle oil spills much larger than the one now threatening the region's environment and economy. And each time, the Minerals Management Service approved the plan and gave the go-ahead for drilling.

The Post also reported that then-House Energy and Commerce Chairman Rep. Henry Waxman noted that these oil companies all rely on one company, Marine Spill Response, to provide containment equipment. [Washington Post, 6/15/10]

Conservative Media Invented Romney's False Suggestion That Obama Forced The Volt On GM

Romney Suggested Obama Told GM To Make The Volt. In an April 2012 campaign stop in Wisconsin, Romney criticized the Chevy Volt, saying "I'm not sure America was ready for the Chevy Volt.  I mean, I hope it does well, I don't want to disparage any product coming out of Detroit. But I think instead of having politicians tell us what kind of cars we ought to make, we ought to let the people who are trying to understand the market make that decision." [Forbes, 4/3/12]

Beck: Government Messed Up GM More. On his Fox show, Glenn Beck claimed he had predicted that when Obama "took over control of General Motors [...] the government would mess them up even more." He proceeded to show the president in "the new Chevy Volt," discussing its sticker price and implying it was part of the takeover. [Fox News, Beck, 7/28/10, via Nexis]

O'Reilly Implied Government Approached GM About Electric Cars. Bill O'Reilly ventured a guess at the provenance of the Volt in early 2012, asking Lou Dobbs "Now the federal government wants electric cars. The same thing. Chevy says, we'll build you the Volt, but we need a lot of money and we don't want to come up with it. Do I have it right?" [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 1/6/12, via Nexis]

Fox's Gutfeld: Obama Created A Car That Runs On Snake Oil. On The Five, Greg Gutfeld said "Snake oil, any oil, any oil is better than solar or wind. Obama should create a car that runs on snake oil, but he did, it's called the Volt." [Fox News, The Five, 3/19/12, via Nexis]

Wash. Times: Volt Was "Pushed By Washington Bureaucrats." Washington Times editorial page editor Brett Decker wrote: "Now that GM is a ward of the state after being bailed out by Uncle Sam, it has to drive forward with all kinds of bad business schemes pushed by Washington bureaucrats, such as the expensive, electric Chevy Volt consumers don't want." [Washington Times, 3/28/12]

IBD: Volt Built To Satisfy "Government Mandates." An Investor's Business Daily editorial called the Volt "an overpriced and overhyped vehicle built not to satisfy consumer demands, but rather government mandates." It went on to suggest that GM was given a bailout and subsidies "to produce and sell its Chevy Volt." [Investor's Business Daily, 10/21/11]

FACT: Volt Was In Development Long Before Obama Was Elected

GM Began To Develop The Volt In 2006 And Put It Into Production Due To Market Forces. According to former General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, the genesis of the Volt far predates Obama. Lutz told Newsweek in 2007 that he first suggested an electric car in 2003, and that "the turning point" came in 2006, when Tesla Motors announced it was producing a car that would run on lithium-ion batteries: 

The turning point came when tiny Tesla Motors, a Silicon Valley start-up, announced in 2006 that it would produce a speedy electric sports car powered by those same laptop batteries. "That tore it for me," says Lutz. "If some Silicon Valley start-up can solve this equation, no one is going to tell me anymore that it's unfeasible."

So in 2006, Lutz formed a skunkworks team of engineers and designers to quickly cobble together the Chevy Volt concept car, which became the star of the 2007 Detroit Auto Show. And then he persuaded the brass to greenlight the Volt for production by arguing that they must try to seize the green high ground from Toyota, which is battling GM for the title of the world's No. 1 automaker. "We saw Toyota getting highly beneficial rub-off from their Prius success, which permitted them to cloak themselves in the mantle of total greenness," says Lutz. "This was starting to hurt because it was one reason for a sudden surge in Toyota's market share." [Newsweek, 12/22/07]

Tax Credit For Electric Cars, Including The Volt, Was Signed Into Law Under Bush. In an article on myths and facts about the Chevy Volt, AutoWeek wrote:

President Obama didn't force the Volt down GM's corporate throat. In fact, Volt development began in April 2006. You'll recall the concept was revealed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January, 2007. Further to that point, the notion that President Obama is subsidizing the car doesn't ring true either. In fact, President George W. Bush signed into law the federal tax credit of up to $7,500 for any electric vehicle, so long as it had a battery capacity of 16 kW or more.

The Obama administration has proposed expanding the tax credit. [AutoWeek, 9/13/12] [WhiteHouse.gov, 3/7/12]

Media Created Romney's Misleading Claim That Solyndra Had "Whistling Robots"

Romney Said Solyndra Was Wasteful "Taj Mahal" Featuring Disney Robots. In a November 2011 speech at the Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFP) summit, Mitt Romney criticized Solyndra's excess, saying:

"They had robots that whistled Disney songs. I'm not kidding. They had, what was described as, spa-like showers with liquid crystal displays that told you what the water temperature was. The company headquarters was called, the 'Taj Mahal' of office buildings." [PolitiFact, 11/17/11]

During a May 31 campaign stop outside Solyndra headquarters, Mitt Romney continued the narrative:

"If you look at this building behind us, this is not the kind of building that is filled by private enterprise. This is the kind of enterprise, the kind of building that's built with a half a billion dollars of taxpayer money," said Romney. "It's not just the Taj Mahal of corporate headquarters. You probably also heard that inside there are showers that have LCD displays that tell what the temperatures are of the shower water. And the robots inside actually provide Disney music tunes." [Washington Post, 5/31/12]

Bloomberg Was The Source Of The Misleading "Robots That Whistled Disney Songs" Claims. Shortly after Solyndra declared bankruptcy, Bloomberg News reported that a former facilities manager at Solyndra said "[t]he new building is like the Taj Mahal," and claimed that the company "had robots that whistled Disney tunes, spa-like showers with liquid-crystal displays of the water temperature, and glass-walled conference rooms." Romney's campaign cited this as the source for his AFP speech. Much later in the article, Bloomberg clarified that each robot "resembled 'a big freezer with wheels'" and that the music "alerted workers to the robots' presence." [Bloomberg, 9/28/11

Fox News And Other Conservative Media Promoted It. Fox News, National Review Online and other outlets pounced on the Bloomberg report, portraying the robots as a sign of opulence by ignoring their purpose. [Media Matters, 11/29/11] [Bloomberg, 9/28/11] [PolitiFact, 11/17/11] [Fox Nation, 9/28/11] [Fox News, The Five, 9/29/11] [National Review Online, 9/28/11] [HotAir.com, 9/28/11] [Human Events, 9/29/11] 

FACT: Claims Of "Robots That Whistled Disney Songs" Wildly Distorted

PolitiFact: Robots Claim "Doesn't Quite Hold Up." PolitiFact reported that Romney's claim "doesn't quite hold up," as the robots in question were actually utilitarian "automated guided vehicles":  

Automated guided vehicles are common in warehouses and factories, as a labor-saving device. Some of them come preloaded with melodies as an alternative to beep-beep-beep -- to boost workers' attention to them, and thus safety. The Solyndra vehicles may have played some Disney tunes along with their movie medleys and Japanese folk songs, but it wasn't their most memorable feature. [PolitiFact, 11/17/11]

 The Vehicles Were Standard Technology Used To Reduce Labor Costs. These automated guided vehicles are standard technology, used since the 1950's to reduce labor costs. This is what they look like:

[Media Matters, 11/29/11]

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