Koch-backed group hits Obama on green energy waste

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 26, 2012 8:48 PM
Koch-backed group hits Obama on green energy waste

By Alina Selyukh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A conservative group backed by the billionaire Koch brothers on Thursday unveiled a $6.1 million advertising blitz in eight election swing states that accuses President Barack Obama of wasting billions of dollars on green energy.

The 60-second ad from the Americans for Prosperity group accuses Obama of spending on green energy initiatives that have led to little job creation and says that some of that money has instead gone abroad.

"This administration has had an obsessive focus on their global warming agenda," the group's president, Tim Phillips, told reporters, adding that the ad is a new effort to challenge the "flawed idea from the left that government can create prosperity using taxpayer money."

It is the second wave of attack ads against Obama on green energy spending from Americans for Prosperity, an advocacy group founded by Charles and David Koch, the conservative financiers behind the oil and gas conglomerate Koch Industries.

The latest ad will air in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio and Virginia over the next two weeks. Those states are expected to be closely contested in the November 6 election between Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

Republicans have cited high gas prices, delay in approval of the Keystone oil pipeline and the collapse of government-backed solar panel maker Solyndra as evidence the White House energy policies are failing.

The millions of "green jobs" Obama promised have been slow to sprout, disappointing many who had hoped that the $90 billion earmarked for clean-energy efforts in the recession-fighting federal stimulus package would ease unemployment - still above 8 percent in March.

Obama's campaign sought on Thursday to link Romney to special interest groups such as Koch-related entities.

"Secretive oil billionaires are making good on their promise to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on Governor Romney's behalf attempting to defeat the President," campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said in a statement.

He accused Romney of supporting subsidies for oil and gas companies and opposing higher fuel economy standards, among other things.

The exchange comes a day after Rolling Stone magazine published an interview with Obama in which he suggested that climate change would become a campaign issue this year.

Three out of four U.S. voters favor regulating carbon dioxide as a greenhouse-gas pollutant, and a majority think global warming should be a priority for the president and Congress, a survey of American attitudes on climate and energy reported on Thursday.

The pro-Obama "Super PAC" called Priorities USA Action on Wednesday launched its own $1 million ad, in partnership with the environmental group League of Conservation Voters, linking Romney to Big Oil. The ad will run in swing states Colorado and Nevada.

(Additional reporting by Deborah Zabarenko; Editing by Eric Beech)