Fact Checking The New Paul Ryan Budget on Energy and Environment

Representative Paul Ryan (R–WI) has released his budget for fiscal year 2013. To almost no one’s surprise, his outline is filled with too many falsehoods and outright lies to count.

After analyzing just one section of his proposal – the section on energy and the environment – more than half a dozen false statements were found in a mere eight paragraphs.

Before analyzing Ryan’s claims from his budget, it’s important to understand why he feels the need to misrepresent what the Obama Administration has accomplished during the last four years.

Ryan, who is currently the Chairman of the House Budget Committee, has received $65,000 from Koch Industries during the course of his tenure in the House, with a total of more than $245,000 from the oil and gas industries to run his campaigns, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The fact that he is in the pocket of the dirty energy industry is clear with the accusations he makes in his proposal. Those claims are below, followed by the truth.

From Ryan’s proposal:

The President’s energy policies have been characterized by punitive regulations on economically competitive sources of energy, coupled with reckless spending on uncompetitive alternatives. Even in the midst of failed stimulus outcomes, the administration presented another budget this year with yet another energy stimulus program. The President’s FY2013 budget would increase energy spending government-wide, including both discretionary and mandatory spending, by almost 90 percent over last year’s enact levels, and 138 percent over FY2011.

Failed stimulus outcomes” clearly has no basis in reality. Reports from last year reveal that the government’s infusion of cash into the renewable energy industry helped revitalize the industry, allowing them to generate global revenue of about $188 billion. Analysts also predict that the government’s investments in these fuels will spark private inspectors to do the same.

Ryan's proposal:
Since the introduction of this failed energy policy in the 2009 stimulus bill, the Department of Energy (DOE) has issued $20 billion in new loan guarantees for renewable energy projects. The most notorious of these – solar start-up Solyndra – received a loan guarantee for $535 million in the fall of 2009, even after repeated warnings from federal financial analysts about the firm’s financial shakiness.

Solyndra is, in itself, a talking point for the anti-environmental crowd, not unlike the so-called “climategate” scandal. Again, all available research shows that the investments in clean energy were a success.

Ryan's proposal:
Meanwhile, advocates of green energy have argued that it’s not enough for the government to subsidize alternatives – it should also promote policies that make commercially competitive sources of energy more expensive. Then-candidate Obama agreed, arguing in January of 2008: “Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity would necessarily skyrocket.”

This is a lie. The only source that Ryan provides for this quote is a DEAD LINK to the San Francisco Chronicle. Luckily, FactCheck.org did an analysis of this claim back in 2008 when the McCain-Palin campaign used it in a campaign video. Their analysis revealed that the claim is completely false, and based on a misquote that was then taken out of context.

Ryan's proposal:
This was the idea behind the controversial “cap and trade” bill that President Obama tried and failed to pass through Congress in 2009, which would have established an elaborate bureaucratic structure for taxing and rationing conventional energy sources. But instead of accepting this verdict on its preferred policy, the administration continued to pursue de facto cap and trade approaches by supporting the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) unilateral plan to impose emissions restrictions on American businesses.

This particular claim was what struck me the hardest. Ryan claims that the EPA (and the administration) are acting “unilaterally” in enacting emissions standards. What he apparently failed to realize was that the agency was actually forced to impose new rules by the U.S. Supreme Court. In its ruling, the court decided that it was the responsibility of the EPA to regulate emissions, based on the requirements of the Clean Air Act.

Ryan's proposal:
The push by the Obama administration to pursue energy and environmental policy through heavy-handed regulations circumvents accountability to voters and leaves decisions in the hands of bureaucratic infrastructure. Unnecessary regulations tie the hands of small businesses and create a hostile and uncertain business environment, discouraging job growth.

This paragraph is best described as pure gibberish. Ryan says that Obama’s policies have “circumvented accountability to voters”, not realizing that voters are the ones who ultimately determine which candidates are put in office (usually based on which candidate offers the most policies they agree with.) A recent Pew poll reveals that only 17% of Americans wanted to see a reduction in environmental protections, while at least half the country believes that regulations and safety standards are necessary for our own safety.

Ryan's proposal:
In some areas, such as fuel-economy standards, the administration has abused a rulemaking process in order to ensure compliance from private-sector parties – for instance, bailing out General Motors and Chrysler as it was telling them to accept government’s more costly fuel-economy standards.

Again, he paints the bailouts – this time of the auto industry – as a hostage negotiation. In his mind, Congress would have refused to give the industry money had the companies decided to not enact better fuel economy standards. Additionally, the increased fuel economy standards actually led to an increase in automobile sales, which greatly benefited our economy as a whole.

Ryan's proposal:
In other areas, such as the debate over the new Keystone pipeline, the administration has simply blocked action that would result in more jobs and lower energy prices for Americans. President Obama has chosen to delay a decision on this common-sense job creator until after the next election, despite years of vetting and an exhaustion of inadequate excuses.

This is an area that we have tackled many, many times here at DeSmogBlog. The simplest and easiest way to combat this claim is with this piece, which explains why the “jobs provided by Keystone XL” don’t actually exist.

Ryan's proposal:
The result: Since the start of the administration, gas prices have doubled; regulations have extracted almost $2 trillion per year from the economy, according to the Small Business Administration, including $281 billion for environmental regulations imposed on small businesses; and government “investments” have failed.

Again, we’ve tackled the gas price lies numerous times in the past few weeks. As we’ve pointed out, the president has no control over the price of gasoline, and his policies have not led to an increase in price. In fact, President Obama has opened up once-forbidden areas of the country for the oil industry, allowing the dirty energy industry to drill for oil at an unprecedented pace.

Judging from the shear number of falsehoods in Ryan’s proposed budget, we’re really only left with two possible explanations: Either Representative Paul Ryan is genuinely the most clueless member of Congress, or he is the most dishonest.

Personally, I’m betting that it’s a combination of the two.

UPDATE: Check out the analysis by Daniel Weiss at the Center for American Progress explaining how the “Ryan Budget Pads Big Oil’s Pockets with Senseless Subsidies.”