" The energy stuff wasn't just big, it was ginormous. It's hard to get people twice as excited about $90 billion as they would be about $45 billion, or 10 times more than they would be about $9 billion, but even $9 billion would have been ginormous. Ten years earlier, [President] Clinton pushed a five-year, $6 billion clean energy bill that went nowhere; at the time it was seen as preposterous and unrealistic, and it was. And here, 10 years later, $90 billion in the guy's first month in office. Plus it leveraged another $100 billion in private money.
Obama promised that he would double renewable power generation during his first term, and he did. In 2008, people had the sense that renewable energy was a tiny industry in the United States. What they forget is it was a tiny dead industry -- because these wind and solar projects were essentially financed through tax credits, which required people with tax liability, and everybody had lost money, so nobody needed [the tax credits]. By changing those to a cash grant, it instantly unlocked this industry. Another thing that's helped to create the wind and solar industry were advanced manufacturing tax credits, which were a gigantic deal. I think there were about 200 factories that got these credits. The classic example is Abengoa [Solar], which had shut down projects in Illinois, Texas, some other places. The day the stimulus passed, their chairman announced they were pouring $6 billion into U.S. projects.
For advanced biofuels, [the stimulus bill] created this $800 million program that essentially financed new refineries. And so you got the first 18 advanced biofuel refineries in the country just through that 1 percent of the clean energy funding. And there were some loan guarantees for that as well. There was also a whole geothermal technology program that went from about $20 million a year to $400 million. It's leading right now to a real boom in geothermal production.
You can argue about this kind of green industrial policy, but it did what it was supposed to do. In 2008, I think 80 percent of the average U.S. wind turbine was made of imported parts. After the stimulus created all these factories -- not just making the whole turbine, but making all of the 8,000 parts that go into a turbine -- now it's only 40 percent imported. That creates a constituency for wind power, and it also reduces the cost, because wind turbines are big honking pieces of equipment that you don't want to be importing from abroad. It is true that a lot of these factories and a lot of these wind farms are owned by foreign companies, like Abengoa, but it really doesn't matter whose corporate name is on the polo shirts. What matters is that these are American jobs and it's producing green power in America."
Facts are out there. Republicans just choose to invent their own reality where the stimulus money was "wasted" so that they never have to do any non-fossil fuel spending again.