Fifty thousand jobs. That's the number of wind farm jobs the Obama Administration says were created by stimulus funding in 2009. Only problem? They're taking credit for jobs created during former President George W. Bush's term.
The Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University found that, of the 70 major wind farms that received $4.4 billion in federal energy grants through the stimulus program, 11 stood up their wind towers during the Bush Administration. More than a quarter of the wind farms, a total of 19, were built before any stimulus money was distributed.
Their fact check, using government documents, cast doubt on claims made about job creation by Matt Rogers, tasked by Secretary Steven Chu to administer stimulus funding at the Department of Energy.
"The energy tax incentives under the Recovery Act have been effective in creating jobs quickly and restarting industries that were on the verge of shutting down," Rogers said during his congressional testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee on April 14.
Approached by the journalism workshop with the finding that a large portion of work on many projects was completed before 2009, Rogers defended the program as a vital tool to ensure reinvestment in wind farms. Still, the grant program has no language requiring that recipients reinvest their grant money in the United States. Rogers said he was basing his claim on company reports that they reinvested their grants in future wind projects in the U.S.
Stephanie Mueller, press secretary at the Department of Energy, said in a statement, "The Recovery Act converted a tax credit that had been rendered ineffective due to the economic downturn into a grant, restarting projects that were stalled in 2008 and jumpstarting new ones. This put more than 50,000 additional people to work last year on both new and existing wind projects."
The American University non-profit previously reported that 80 percent of the money in clean-energy grants handed out by the government went to foreign-owned developers, and that the majority of turbines being installed were built by foreign-owned manufacturers.