RNC Slams Obama for 'Renewable Outsourcing'

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Map from the Obamanomics Outsourced GOP website

As the Presidential election campaign heats up, backers of Republican Mitt Romney are working to counter criticisms of their candidate's ties to Bain Capital and its alleged outsourcing of American jobs. A Republican National Committee campaign website launched yesterday morning called "Obamanomics Outsourced" takes the "I know you are but what am I" route, accusing President Obama of sending tax dollars overseas by subsidizing renewable energy.

Among the charges, some of which have been repeated by Romney in recent campaign speeches:

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  • Spain's Iberdrola Renewables received $1.5 billion in loans and grants but has just 850 U.S. employees

  • Some of the solar panels for SunPower's $1.3 billion Stimulus-backed California Solar Valley Ranch will be manufactured at their facility in Mexico rather than their facility in California

  • Korean electric vehicle battery manufacturers given $300 million to build plants in Michigan are hiring foreign nationals to fill jobs that could be going to U.S. workers

  • The Gulf Wind Project spent some of its $179 million Stimulus Grant on parts From South Korea, Japan, and Mexico

  • ABB Inc. received over $16 million in stimulus funds to create green energy manufacturing jobs then laid off U.S. workers and moved operations to Mexico

According to Michael Shear and Richard Oppel Jr. in the New York Times, a number of the allegations are either misleading or incorrect. Barry Dillon, a spokesman for the North Carolina-based energy technology company ABB, told the Times that his company employs 19,000 people in the U.S., and 8,000 in Canada and Mexico. "In a detailed e-mail," wrote Shear and Oppel, "Mr. Dillon wrote that the company has been expanding in both the United States and Mexico to meet rising demands of the market."

The GOP also seems to have goofed on its allegations regarding SunPower and the California Solar Valley Ranch: it was actually SunPower's colleague NRG that received stimulus funding for the Ranch, and many of SunPower's PV units to be installed at the Ranch are being made in Milpitas.

The GOP site also claims:

After receiving a $500 million loan guarantee, Fisker Automotive Is producing their $100K luxury electric sports car In Finland.

According to Shear and Oppel, Fisker took only $193 million in loans, which were approved during the Bush administration. Though Fisker is indeed building its first cars in Finland, the company claims all funding from the Bush loans was spent on U.S. operations.

Of the 33 examples of "outsourcing" on the Obamanomics Outsourced site, all but three are renewable energy related. (The exceptions are GM opening a diesel engine plant in Thailand, a $1.5 million EPA grant to Indonesia to improve air quality, and a contract with the Melanoma Institute of Australia to provide tumor samples to the US's National Cancer Institute.) It seems clear that the Obama administration's emphasis on renewables will continue to draw fire from his opposition as the election draws closer.

For ongoing environmental coverage in March 2017 and afterward, please visit our show Earth Focus, or browse Redefine for historic material.
KCET's award-winning environment news project Redefine ran from July 2012 through February 2017.

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