27 August 2012 – From Grist: When award-winning journalist Michael Grunwald tried to tell his editors there was a giant clean energy story under their noses: US$90 billion, masked under the so called “failed” stimulus package, they thought he was crazy.
But Grunwald was right. He interviewed more than 400 people, sat in on Cabinet meetings and read original documents. What he found was the stimulus, which was put in place right after President Barack Obama’s inauguration, was “successful, well-administered, and virtually scandal-free”.
“The energy stuff wasn’t just big, it was ginormous,” he said.
“It’s hard to get people twice as excited about $90 billion as they would be about $45 billion, or 10 times more than they would be about $9 billion, but even $9 billion would have been ginormous.
“Ten years earlier, (President) Clinton pushed a five-year, $6 billion clean energy bill that went nowhere; at the time it was seen as preposterous and unrealistic, and it was.
“And here, 10 years later, $90 billion in the guy’s first month in office. Plus it leveraged another $100 billion in private money.”
Grunwald said Obama’s promise to double renewable power generation during his first term was kept. Cash grants and manufacturing tax credits unlocked wind and solar projects.
“(And) for advanced biofuels, (the stimulus bill) created this $800 million program that essentially financed new refineries. And so you got the first 18 advanced biofuel refineries in the country just through that 1 percent of the clean energy funding. And there were some loan guarantees for that as well.
“There was also a whole geothermal technology program that went from about $20 million a year to $400 million. It’s leading right now to a real boom in geothermal production.”
Obama’s stimulus package was a ginormous clean energy bill, says Michael Grunwald