Ad Check: Rob Portman Lies About Democrats' Clean Energy Proposals

July 07, 2010 3:07 pm ET

Former Rep. Rob Portman, the current GOP candidate for Senate in Ohio, is lying about Democrat-sponsored clean energy policy in a new ad. The ad parrots the main Republican talking point on energy policy: that any effort to put a price on pollution amounts to a job-killing national tax on anyone who flips a light switch. In fact, House Democrats passed a bill last year that would create millions of jobs and cost families "less than a postage stamp a day," and the American Power Act pending in the Senate would hold polluters accountable and start reducing our dependence on foreign oil. On top of Portman's lies, his ad asks voters to read his energy proposal. Unfortunately for Ohioans, the "Portman Plan on Energy" is based on bad science and full of bad policy.

Ad Uses False GOP Talking Points To Promote Portman Energy Plan

ROB PORTMAN: There's a new energy tax coming our way from Washington that's a job-killer for Ohio, called cap-and-trade. We're taxed turning on a light, using our computer, or even cooking dinner. And our factories are hit particularly hard. It could cost Ohio a hundred thousand jobs we cannot afford to lose. There's a better way to have a cleaner environment, stop our dangerous dependence on foreign oil, and add jobs. Learn more about it, and the Portman plan for jobs, at I'm Rob Portman and I approve this message.

The Democrats' Market-Based Clean Energy Legislation Would Help The Economy...

Clean Energy Legislation Would Boost GDP By Up To $111 Billion.  According to the University of California-Berkeley: "Comprehensive clean energy and climate protection legislation, like the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) that was passed by the House of Representatives in June, would strengthen the U.S. economy by establishing pollution limits and incentives that together will drive large-scale investments in clean energy and energy efficiency...New analysis by the University of California shows conclusively that climate policy will strengthen the U.S. economy as a whole. Full adoption of the ACES package of pollution reduction and energy efficiency measures would ... boost GDP by $39 billion-$111 billion. These economic gains are over and above the growth the U.S. would see in the absence of such a bill." [UC Berkeley, accessed 1/22/10]

Clean Energy Legislation Would Boost Household Income By Nearly $1,200 Per Year. According to the University of California-Berkeley: "Full adoption of the ACES package of pollution reduction and energy efficiency measures would create between 918,000 and 1.9 million new jobs, increase annual household income by $487-$1,175 per year... These economic gains are over and above the growth the U.S. would see in the absence of such a bill." [UC Berkeley, accessed 1/22/10]

...Create Millions Of American Jobs...

The American Power Act Would Create 540,000 American Jobs Per Year Until 2030. In its analysis of the American Power Act (APA), the ClimateWorks Foundation wrote: "APA would retain 110,000 jobs over the period 2012-2020 (150,000 over the period 2012-2030) across industrial sectors of the economy due to energy investments that drive construction and manufacturing job growth. On balance, national employment would be 440,000 higher on average compared to BAU from 2012-2020 and 540,000 higher over the period 2012-2030." [ClimateWorks Foundation, 6/15/10, emphasis added, parentheses original]     

Investment In Clean Energy Technology Would Create Up To 1.9 Million American Jobs. According to the University of California-Berkeley, "new analysis by the University of California shows conclusively that climate policy will strengthen the U.S. economy as a whole. Full adoption of the ACES package of pollution reduction and energy efficiency measures would create between 918,000 and 1.9 million new jobs." [UC Berkeley, accessed 1/22/10]

Investment In Clean Energy Technology Creates FOUR TIMES As Many Jobs As An Investment In Oil & Gas.  According to the Center for American Progress: "spending $1 million on energy efficiency and renewable energy produces a much larger expansion of employment than spending the same amount on fossil fuels or nuclear energy. Among fossil fuels, job creation in coal is about 32 percent greater than that for oil and natural gas. The employment creation for energy efficiency-retrofitting and mass transit-is 2.5 times to four times larger than that for oil and natural gas. With renewable energy, the job creation ranges between 2.5 times to three times more than that for oil and gas." [Center for American Progress, The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy6/17/09]

... Cost Only Pennies A Day...

Peterson Institute: American Power Act Would Only Cause "Between A $136 Increase And A $35 Decrease" In Annual Energy Costs Per Household. In its analysis of the American Power Act, the Peterson Institute for International Economics wrote: "In our analysis, households see somewhere between a $136 increase and a $35 dollar decrease in annual energy expenditures, depending on future improvements in vehicle efficiency. The American Power Act also returns much of the revenue raised through the sale of pollution permits to households, with further mitigates the impact of higher energy prices." [Peterson Institute, May 2010]

Reuters: "Climate Legislation Moving Through Congress Would Have Only A Modest Impact On Consumers." According to Reuters: "A new U.S. government study on Tuesday adds to a growing list of experts concluding that climate legislation moving through Congress would have only a modest impact on consumers, adding around $100 to household costs in 2020. Under the climate legislation passed by the House of Representatives in June, electricity, heating oil and other bills for average families will rise $134 in 2020 and $339 in 2030, according to the Energy Information Administration, the country's top energy forecaster." [Reuters8/5/09]

EIA: Clean Energy Legislation Would Cost Only $0.23 Per Day. According to a House Energy and Commerce Committee factsheet of the Energy Information Administration's analysis of the American Clean Energy and Security Act: "The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has completed an analysis of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454), as passed by the U.S. House of Representatives... The overall impact on the average household, including the benefit of many of the energy efficiency provisions in the legislation, would be 23 cents per day ($83 per year). This is consistent with analyses by the Congressional Budget Office which projects a cost of 48 cents per day ($175 per year) and the Environmental Protection Agency which projects a cost of 22 to 30 cents per day ($80 to $111 per year)." [House Energy and Commerce Committee, EIA's Economic Analysis Of "The American Clean Energy And Security Act Of 2009," 8/4/09; emphasis original]

...And Make Us Safer.

Veterans Advocacy Group Favors Legislation To Reduce Our Oil Imports., a "pro-military organization founded by Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," released an ad explaining why we need to break America's dependence on foreign oil:

[ Ad: "Tough" via YouTube, 3/3/10]

The U.S. Sends Hundreds Of Billions Of Dollars To Unstable Oil-Rich Countries Each Year. The Center for American Progress created a useful graphic displaying how America's oil addiction sends billions of dollars to unstable countries often hostile to America and its allies:

[Center for American Progress, 1/13/10]

The "Portman Plan On Energy": Misleading And Misguided

Portman Cites Flawed Study On Democratic Clean Energy Proposals.

Portman's Plan Attacks Democratic Clean Energy Proposals. According to the Portman Plan on Energy: "Under Cap and Trade, it is estimated that Ohio working families and Ohio businesses will pay as much as 60 percent more for electricity once the law takes full effect, and, according to a study by the National Association of Manufacturers, the legislation would lead to approximately 100,000 additional Ohio jobs being lost, something we can not afford." [Portman Plan on Energy, accessed 7/6/10 via, emphasis added]

Portman's Claims Are Based On A Study By The American Council For Capital Formation (ACCF). According to ACCF's website: "The American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the releases [sic] a comprehensive study on the impact of The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, also known as the Waxman-Markey Bill (HR 2454).  The bill aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to cap the amount of carbon that is emitted by U.S. industry.  The legislation does so by mandating a cap and trade program and other provisions governing fuel choices available to businesses and consumers." [, 8/12/09]

ACCF Is Financed By Energy Companies Based In Fossil Fuels. According to Corporate Europe, ACCF's funders include energy giants like the Southern Company, the American Petroleum Institute, Pepco, the Marathon Oil Corporation and Exxon Mobil. [, accessed 7/7/10]

ACCF's Policy Research Is Paid For With $1.25 Million From Exxon Mobil. According to Conservative Transparency, the American Council for Capital Formation Center for Policy Research has taken at least $1,254,523 from Exxon Mobil Corporation since 2001. [Conservative Transparency, accessed 7/6/10]

The ACCF/NAM Report Cited In Portman's Plan Has Been Thoroughly Debunked. According to the National Resource Defense Council:

Of all their little "facts" and figures, here's one NAM/ACCF actually don't want you to know: By 2030, their own model predicts the average American household's income going up by at least 100 times the increase in household energy expenditures from curbing global warming. In other words, your energy expenditures will go up by less than 1% of the increase in your income to protect the planet from the most dangerous impacts of global warming.


NAM/ACCF's cost estimates are much higher than those from authoritative studies by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Energy Information Administration (EIA), and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). They are taken out of context. And, most critically, they hide the basic finding (from their own analysis) that wholly undermines their argument: household incomes grow orders of magnitude faster than their cost estimates!


Once again, they're hiding the good news from us.

[, 9/10/09, emphasis added]

  • The ACCF/NAM Report Inflates Energy Costs And Removes Context. The National Resource Defense Council has two tables on ACCF's — and Rob Portman's — distorted numbers:

[, 9/10/09]

"Portman Plan On Energy" Is Government Subsidies For Projects Portman Likes...

Portman Wants Washington To "Support The Advancement Of Alternative/Advanced Energy Technologies." According to the "Portman Plan on Energy": "Instead of taking unilateral steps that will make Ohio less competitive as Washington is proposing, Rob is committed to supporting technological advances and incentives that will lead us to next-generation sources of cleaner, domestic energy, while adding jobs. To achieve this balance, Rob believes we should aggressively pursue domestic energy sources, support the advancement of alternative/advanced energy technologies, and promote energy efficiency and conservation." [Portman Plan on Energy, accessed 7/6/10 via, emphasis added]

"Support" For Energy Technology Means Subsidies From Washington. According to Stephen Stromberg of the Washington Post: "At the end of the ad, Portman claims that he has a better way to protect the environment, and he asks the viewer to check it out on his Web site. I obliged. His plan relies on 'support' -- read: subsidies and other government interventions -- for things that he likes -- corn ethanol, nuclear power, natural gas, coal. Some of these things might become an essential part of weaning the country off fossil fuels. Or not. We don't really know, and that's the point of cap-and-trade and other carbon pricing proposals -- take the decisions regarding which green technologies prosper out of the hands of lawmakers with incentives to spend Americans' money on parochial interests; instead, send a price signal to consumers and the companies that serve them, spurring private individuals to find and invest in the cheapest routes to a greener economy." [Washington Post, 7/6/10, emphasis added]

Subsidies Are More Expensive, Less Efficient Than Market-Based Democratic Proposals. According to Jim Leonhardt in the New York Times:

In a market system, businesses and consumers have a clear incentive to reduce their carbon use, and they can choose the cheapest way to do so. Some would decide to retrofit current buildings and homes to make them more energy-efficient. Some would buy new, more efficient machinery or appliances. Some would switch to alternative energy and, in the process, create a much bigger market for it.

"Instead of leaving it up to the government to identify the solution and tell people what to do, you are leaving that decision to the people who know best," says Nathaniel Keohane of the Environmental Defense Fund. "A bureaucrat would never have enough information to do as good a job."

Under a command-and-control system, businesses and consumers have to focus not just on carbon use but also on the details of the government's rules: the intricacies of vehicle and building standards, the types of appliances that qualify for subsidies, the fine print of the Energy Department's loan applications. Each bit of compliance brings costs.

[New York Times, 6/15/10, emphasis added]

...And A "Drill, Baby, Drill" Attitude On Dirty Energy Sources.

Portman Plan On Energy Relies On Coal, Oil, And Gas. The "Portman Plan on Energy" includes a list of proposals:

1. Safely and Responsibly Develop All of Ohio's Available Energy Sources. Ohio is blessed with a natural abundance of coal, natural gas, solar, wind, oil, bio-mass, and water resources.  These can and should be strengths for Ohio; the federal government should not discourage the use of Ohio resources for energy generation.


3. Build on the Strengths of Ohio's Coal Industry. Over 85% of Ohio's electricity is generated by coal, and our state has over 9 billion tons of mineable coal at its disposal.  Coal is an accessible and inexpensive source of electricity and directly and indirectly supports tens of thousands of jobs in Ohio. Our access to coal has kept Ohio's electricity rates relatively low, a competitive advantage we can not afford to lose.  Over the last 35 years, America's coal-based electricity providers have invested more than $50 billion in technologies to reduce emissions.

[Portman Plan on Energy, accessed 7/6/10 via, emphasis original]