Did Paul Ryan actually float the idea of using government spending to kill an industry that bankrolls his party? (Photo credit: Flickr user JD Hancock)

In 2008, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan gave a floor speech in favor of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANRW). He boasted that this could generate $191 billion in revenue. What did he want to do with this revenue? He suggested that it could be used for a new “Manhattan Project” to put “fossil fuels out of business”:

RYAN: If we just did ANWR, according to the CRS, the federal government would see a surge in revenues. No new taxes, not even cutting spending. $191 billion. $191 billion, according to the CRS from just doing ANWR, that’s the smallest of all our reserves. Think of all we could do with $191 billion. We could cut the deficit, we could create a Manhattan project for research and development of renewables to put fossil fuels out of business. But no, we’re doing none of this.

Watch Ryan’s remarks (the pertinent section starts at around 0:49):

Drilling in ANWR is not actually a good way to create revenue or save the earth. It would destroy a precious environmental reserve and it would take more than a decade to produce oil that would do little to dislodge our addiction to fossil fuels.

Yet it’s interesting that Ryan would endorse the idea of spending up to $191 billion on a Manhattan Project (referencing the public works project that created nuclear technology) Ai??to put “fossil fuels out of business.” Those aren’t exactly the words you’d expect from an Ayn Rand acolyte like Ryan. But now he’s a standard-bearer for a party that relies on Big Oil for its electoral success.Ai??In fact, “oil and gas companies have donated $238.7 million to candidates and parties since the 1990 election cycle,Ai??75 percentAi??of which has gone to Republicans.”Ai??Ai??So it’s unlikely that we’ll see him bring up this good idea again — but the media should ask him about it regardless.