Tom Steyer, the billionaire activist using his fortune to battle climate change, made an idealistic appeal in an ad that ran during Tuesday night’s GOP presidential debate.
“America has never been a country of quitters. It’s not who we are,” a narrator states over patriotic images in the ad run by Steyer’s NextGen Climate group. “We don’t ignore threats like climate change. We face our problems head on.”
OK, good so far. But then the ad flies of the rails a little. Against a backdrop of solar panels and wind turbines, the ad states: “With American-made clean energy, we can end our dependence on foreign oil, spark new innovation, and create millions of new jobs.”
That leaves the distinct impression that wind and solar energy are substitutes for oil in the U.S energy market. And that’s not really true—because wind and solar are used to generate electricity, while oil is barely a factor in power markets.
The U.S. generates just 1 percent of its electricity with oil. Instead, oil is used primarily to fuel cars, trucks, planes, and other vehicles. (Indeed, the U.S. dependence on foreign oil is plummeting, but that’s because of rising domestic production, better auto efficiency, and other factors.)