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Almost $11 million spent on Solyndra attack ads — but voters aren’t buying it

When the solar manufacturing company Solyndra went bankrupt last September after receiving a $527 million loan guarantee, it sparked a politically motivated congressional investigation into the White House’s handling of the program -- an “investigation” that critics admitted would “stop on election day.”

After acquiring 300,000 documents, holding a dozen hearings and official meetings, issuing two subpoenas, and spending more than a million dollars on the investigation, members of Congress failed to present any evidence of political wrongdoing.

Congressional critics have “not shown the loan was granted as a result of political favoritism, despite repeated campaign-trail claims,” reported The Hill.

That didn’t stop special interest groups from spending millions of dollars on television ads this campaign season to trump up the Solyndra bankruptcy and spread “over-the-top, ultimately ridiculous” claims about clean energy programs.

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The greener the industry, the higher the job-growth rate

Shutterstock

Industries that support a higher number of “green” workers who are making goods and services more environmentally friendly have experienced a higher rate of growth over the last decade than industries with fewer green jobs.

That’s according to a new study from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), which analyzed data on the green workforce from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS data, which was released in March, documented 3.1 million green jobs nationwide in renewable energy, water management, recycling, and various positions that help improve the efficiency and environmental footprint of a company or institution.

BLS defined green jobs as:

Jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources; or, jobs in which workers’ duties involve making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or ensuring that they use fewer natural resources.

The agency’s figures were given little attention in the mainstream press and were ridiculed by Republicans for including a broad array of positions in transportation, manufacturing, and waste services.

However, Ethan Pollack, a senior policy analyst with EPI, believed there was more to the data set. So he looked at how environmental and efficiency initiatives were impacting job growth in various sectors.

Pollack found that for every percentage point increase in the “green intensity” of a particular industry, annual job growth in that sector increased by 0.034 of a percentage point between 2000 and 2010.

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We’re No. 1! (In climate denier coverage)

America is unique when it comes to giving a platform to climate deniers and skeptics.

According to a new analysis of data released last year, American newspapers are far more likely to publish uncontested claims from climate deniers, many of whom challenge whether the planet is warming at all and are “almost exclusively found” in the U.S. media. The study was published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

The researchers were trying to answer three important questions: Is climate denial and disinformation as prevalent in the newspapers outside America? Is it mostly right-wing papers publishing these pieces? And what types of skeptics are being published in different countries?

In all three categories, the U.S. emerged as a unique leader in promoting climate denial in the press.

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Debate debrief: No mention of climate, energy lies from Romney

President Obama and Mitt Romney in the first of three presidential debates.
CNN

Big Bird might have been one of the most popular trends on Twitter during the first presidential debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. But as the discussion of domestic issues unfolded, #climatesilence got some play as well. Sadly, not because the candidates broke their silence on the issue.

Here are two tweets that summed up the lack of attention to climate change:

And this one from climate activist Bill McKibben:

If you watched the real-time reaction to the debates, the disappointment among folks within the energy and environment community over the lack of attention to climate was palpable. Even with 160,000 signatures delivered to PBS’s Jim Lehrer calling on him to ask the candidates about climate change, the issue was completely ignored during the 90-minute conversation — continuing a long streak of silence throughout the campaign.

Apparently, neither of the candidates has been watching the polls showing that climate could be a major factor in how undecided and independent voters cast their ballots.

Energy issues were sprinkled throughout the debate, however. The mentions were focused mostly on domestic drilling and clean-energy spending.

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Free-market hypocrisy: Why do we hold renewables to different standards?

The government has been picking energy winners and losers for a long time already. (Photo by Shutterstock.)

Now that renewables are receiving some of the same incentives that fossil fuels have enjoyed for nearly 100 years, we’re suddenly being inundated with calls for a purely “free-market” approach to energy development from politicians on the right and companies concerned about the growth of clean energy.

Their arguments make for good sound bites. But if we take a look at the history of energy development in the U.S., it’s very clear that we’ve never had a truly “free” market. In fact, all of the technologies that dominate our energy system today were given special incentives by the government in order to get them to commercial scale.

According to a recent report from the venture capital firm DBL Investors, the U.S. coal, oil, gas, and nuclear industries have cumulatively taken in more than $630 billion in tax credits, land grants, research and development (R&D) programs, and direct investments from the government. That far surpasses the roughly $50 billion in government renewable energy investments (wind, solar PV, solar thermal, geothermal, biofuels) through these same mechanisms over the decades, according to the report.

But when renewable energy is given similar incentives -- helping double the penetration of non-hydro renewable electricity since 2008 -- the energy free-marketeers come out of hiding and lament how we’re supposedly “picking winners and losers.”

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Al Gore condemns media for dropping the ball on climate change coverage

Photo by campuspartybrasil.

George Monbiot has a new piece in the Guardian titled “The day the world went mad,” which looks at the underwhelming reaction in the press and political sphere to the Aug. 27 announcement of record Arctic ice melt.

As Arctic sea ice faces a death spiral due to human-caused global warming, Monbiot points to the complete lack of attention: Instead of focusing on the Arctic, a British parliament committee on climate change debated building new runways for Heathrow Airport; meanwhile in the U.S., the Republicans were holding a convention celebrating fossil fuels and the party’s active denial of climate change:

I wonder whether we could be seeing a form of reactive denial at work: people proving to themselves that there cannot be a problem if they can continue to discuss the issues in these terms ... When your children ask how and why it all went so wrong, point them to yesterday’s date, and explain that the world is not led by rational people.

Well, not everyone was ignoring the insanity of the situation. Speaking on Current TV’s coverage of the National Republican Convention, Al Gore had some strong words for the press:

The whole North polar ice cap is disappearing in  front of our eyes. Twelve massive million-dollar-plus climate-related disasters ... and they keep coming ... Just as [the media] did not report the truth about the proposal to invade Iraq, we are not getting the accurate impression about this challenge that we have to face. To stop putting 90 million tons of global warming pollution up into the atmosphere every single day ... They aren’t only doing nothing about it, there’s hardly any discussion about it. It drives me crazy.

Watch it:

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Rush Limbaugh says Obama manipulated hurricane forecasts to delay GOP convention

Photo by Micah Walter, Reuters.

On his radio show today, Rush Limbaugh suggested that the government manipulated hurricane forecasts in order to force Republicans to cancel a day of their national convention, saying the model "allows them to do it."

"The hurricane center is the regime; the hurricane center is the Commerce Department. It's the government. It's Obama," Limbaugh said.

In reality, the National Hurricane Center forecast is, roughly, what you get if "you average together the track forecasts from" several models, most of which are done by other organizations, in some cases other countries. Obama would have more luck using his apparently omniscient powers to alter the course of the hurricane itself than somehow trying to rejigger the storm tracks from all these different models, which are publicly available and updated continuously.

Limbaugh communicated his absurd theory on this imaginary scheme while simultaneously claiming "I'm not alleging conspiracy."

His latest conspiracy theory matches the absurdity of his claim from last July, when he said the heat index was “manufactured by the government" in order to convince the American people that it's hotter outside.

Listen to Limbaugh's paranoid rant on hurricane forecasting:

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Top U.S. science official: ‘Climate change is having consequences in real time’

A version of this article originally appeared on Climate Progress.

Jane Lubchenco. (Photo by NASA.)

One of America’s top science officials says the current onslaught of extreme weather in the U.S. is raising awareness of climate change among Americans.

Speaking at a university forum today in Australia, Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said Americans are increasingly connecting the dots between climate change and the severe heat, drought, wildfires, and storms hitting the country. The Associated Press reported on her comments, made at the University of Canberra:

“Many people around the world are beginning to appreciate that climate change is under way, that it’s having consequences that are playing out in real time and, in the United States at least, we are seeing more and more examples of extreme weather and extreme climate-related events,” Lubchenco told a university forum in the Australian capital of Canberra.

“People’s perceptions in the United States at least are in many cases beginning to change as they experience something first-hand that they at least think is directly attributable to climate change,” she said.

Read more: Climate Change

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Bus-ted: Romney takes anti-clean energy stance to six states with 418k green jobs

A version of this article originally appeared on Climate Progress.

Photo by Roger Barone.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney begins a five-day bus tour today. He’ll cross six different states, focusing on economic issues and the “ordinary concerns of the American people.”

As he has throughout the campaign, Romney will likely talk about why he doesn’t believe that clean energy is good for the country. In recent months, the Romney campaign has attacked American renewable energy companies, lied about the clean energy stimulus, and called American green jobs “illusory” -- even with 64,000 clean energy jobs in his home state of Massachusetts.

In fact, those jobs are far from illusory. In the six states that Romney plans to visit on his bus tour, there are nearly half a million green jobs across a diverse range of sectors like wind, solar, land conservation, green buildings, and waste-to-energy.

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Americans for Prosperity to protest pro-wind rally of ‘extremist’ kite-flying kids

A version of this article originally appeared on Climate Progress.

Beneath an innocent pastime lies a radical agenda to destroy America.

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) now sees children flying kites as a major threat to society.

Earlier today, I opened my email box to find an uproarious AFP promotion for protests in Asbury Park and Ocean City, N.J., this Friday.

What are they so upset about?

An event so dastardly and maniacal, it has the potential to tear down everything we love about our freedoms as Americans. I almost couldn’t stomach it when I found out more.

Yes, it’s “extremist” kids flying kites in support of offshore wind energy.

Read more: Wind Power