Tag Archives: green

Obama’s “Green Energy” Stimulus Strikes – Twice

a123 sale
A123 Systems received, in 2009, a $249.1 million federal grant from “Dear Leader” Barack Hussein Obama’s wildly successful (NOT) stimulus program. A123 also received over $100 million in grants and tax credits from Massachusetts. A123 was, however, deeply in debt, and in October 2012, filed for bankruptcy. A123 sold $125 million of its auto assets to Johnson Controls, which will provide financing to A123 in bankruptcy. The remainder of A123 was then purchased in December 2012 by the Chinese company Wanxiang Group, through an auction run by Latham and Watkins, a law firm that contributed more than $200,000 to Obama’s re-election bid. Cozy, huh?

A123 has drawn just over half of its grant money, $129 million, to build a factory in Michigan. Speaking of A123’s factory, here is what Obama had to say in 2009:

“This is about the birth of an entire new industry in America – an industry that’s going to be central to the next generation of cars. When folks lift up their hoods on the cars of the future, I want them to see engines and batteries that are stamped: Made in America.”

A123 Systems, co-founded in 2001 by Yet-Ming Chiang, a materials scientist at MIT who had developed a new technology for fast-charging lithium-ion batteries, had, in 2009, what appeared to be a great idea. But that “great idea” didn’t pan out. The batteries A123 supplied to Fisker for its electric car caused fires, forcing Fisker, in 2011, to recall 239 Karmas for battery replacement, costing A123 $50 million.

The fact that A123 went bankrupt after receiving taxpayer money is bad enough. What’s worse, IMHO, is that Obama placed bets on future technology with taxpayer money. The entire situation would have been fine had Obama placed bets with venture capitalists’ money. Venture capitalists could have examined A123’s prospectus, its technology forecasts, and production plans, then decided whether or not to invest. But the evaluation task was assigned to the totally unbiased “experts” at Obama’s Department of Energy (DOE), under the Obama crony Dr. Steven Chu. We taxpayers, who footed the investment bill, were never consulted.

What’s even worse is that now the A123 Systems technology that we paid for is going to the Chinese. What does all of this mean (or potentially mean)? Dean Popp, former acting United States assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics, and technology, and co-chair of Strategic Materials Advisory Council (therefore, not some ignorant blowhard) said:

“We are not taking a critical look at what China is doing in terms of assembling a portfolio of things that allow her to control our supply chain and control our national security concerns. These batteries are used in satellites; these batteries are used in combat vehicles; these batteries are used in precision munitions – you know, wherever there’s sensitive stuff. It is the technology not only of the hour, but of the decade.”

Popp also expressed concern that the U.S. is losing its manufacturing, industrial and technological strength, and becoming more vulnerable to China.

So, I guess Obama’s reelection and paybacks for cronys (I mean, “campaign contributors”) is more important to him than national security.

But that’s just my opinion.
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Give Them The Wealth

“THIS IS A MAJOR DEAL” – Van Jones on changes made by the Department of the Interior to free up Indian lands for renewable energy production.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced changes in how the federal government will grant permits for the development of wind and other surface energy production on tribal lands saying, “This final step caps the most comprehensive reforms of Indian land leasing regulations in more than 50 years and will have a lasting impact on individuals and families who want to own a home or build a business on Indian land.” (Forbes)

According to the Department of the Interior website, “The new regulation, effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, will fundamentally change the way the BIA does business, in many ways by minimizing the [Bureau of Indian Affairs’s] role and restoring greater control to tribal governments. The final rule provides clarity by identifying specific processes – with enforceable timelines – through which the BIA must review leases.”

Salazar and his department haven’t always had the authority to make such changes to federal policy, but President Obama submitted an official memorandum on November 28, granting Salazar unprecedented authority without Congressional approval.

Former “Green Jobs Czar” Van Jones, who has written 2 books and given countless public speeches about using the green energy agenda to redistribute wealth to tribes within the US, took to social media to express his enthusiasm for the administration’s recent moves.

“THIS IS A MAJOR DEAL!” tweeted Jones in a ‘re-tweet’ of the Forbes article outlining the changes.

For context, Van Jones’ wealth redistribution agenda masked as energy policy can be seen in action in this video.

Oft fraught with fiery rhetoric and shocking language, Van Jones‘ speeches reveal his communist tendencies. Jones once said, “white polluters and the white environmentalists are essentially steering poison into the people of color communities because they have a racial justice frame.”

Salazar, though much more controlled in his language, has offered much public criticism of states’ rights to regulate their own energy production. In June of this year, Salazar announced that the federal government needed to do more to regulate hydraulic fracturing efforts. In an interview with Reuters, he said that states were not sufficiently overseeing the fracking processes and that the federal government has a five year plan for leases.

Dear Libertarians, 2012 Is Not Your Year

I am a card-carrying member of the GOP, primarily because I reside in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As a fiscal conservative, I find myself agreeing more with the Libertarian platform, but it is not in my best interests to register as one. The Keystone State is not known for being groundbreaking in anything political, as in we are largely behind the curve. We’re one of a handful of “control” states, where the Commonwealth enjoys a virtual monopoly on the sales of the wines and spirits. The computerized polling stations are still only partially implemented state-wide, and we still rely on paper tallies to certain extent in most counties. We’re followers, not leaders, for the most part. But, there is one thing that some here complain about that we actually do right. We have closed primaries – we can only vote for candidates running in the party we are actually registered to vote.

DonkeyHotey (CC)


That is how it should be everywhere. It is the entire point of a primary. The election is held so that the members of a given party can choose their candidates for the general election. And we rarely have even one candidate for many offices that is registered as Libertarian. There are rarely any candidates for any of the “third parties” recognized here, including Independent, Green, and Socialist. And now there is talk of former Gov. Gary Johnson fighting to be on the ballot here, presumably to “send a message”. My question is, who does Johnson want to send that message to? Obama? Romney?

“A former George Bush campaign insider told us, ‘Your Libertarian Presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson may determine who wins this Presidential campaign,’” Howell wrote. “You and I and our fellow Libertarians can seize this huge opportunity – IF we’re ready for the last 6 weeks before Election Day.”

That’s from Carla Howell, the Libertarian Party executive. Now, either Howell is extremely stupid, or she sincerely wants to hand the White House to Obama for a second term. If that is what the Libertarian party leadership stands for, I wonder what the rank and file Libertarian voters really think about that. Maybe she drank the same Kool-Aid Rand Paul has, and views the political landscape with the same lens. As Ramesh Ponnoru already observed, it is facile to assume that Libertarian views on social issues would virtually guarantee more moderate Democrat and Independent votes in traditionally blue states. For one thing, it ignores what I refer to as “brainless voting” – the ability of voters to simply choose “straight ticket” instead of actively choosing in each race. It is a depressing fact, but there is still at least a plurality of voters in many precincts that know nearly nothing about the candidates and issues they are voting on in a given election – they simply cast a ballot on party lines. That alone makes a case for the resurrection of poll tests, not to exclude a given race, but to exclude individuals that don’t bother learning anything about the people or offices they are choosing.

And there lies one of the major reasons why we still have a two-party system. History tells us where the current Libertarian movement is during this election season. Johnson could go down in history as the GOP’s Ralph Nader. Eye Desert made the observation that Republicans need to start listening to Libertarians, and most importantly, he has pointed out two possible outcomes if Romney does not win. If the GOP blames Libertarians, it could spell the end of the party. If not, it could mean a stronger, big-tent conservative party. It’s a solid thesis, and is nothing new. Barry Goldwater predicted the potential demise of the Republican Party years ago. He was there for the beginning of the takeover of the party by religious leaders, and the rise of social conservatism as we know it now. And Goldwater knew that would cause rifts within the conservative movement. Add in the big government spending that has been adopted by the GOP over the years, and that is a toxic mixture that has given rise to this latest growth in popularity for the Libertarian Party, and the Tea Party.

But, we’re not there, yet. The Libertarian message is growing in popularity, but it is not enough. Until it makes sense for voters in states like Pennsylvania to switch their parties to the Libertarian side, we’re not there yet. And, sad but true, until the Libertarian Party sheds its fringe image due to people like Ron and Rand Paul, we won’t see multiple candidates up for election in closed primaries, like we do for the Democratic and Republican parties. While I would greatly enjoy seeing the GOP forced to address its problem with overspending and overly invasive legislative objectives in the name of saving everyone’s souls, we can’t afford four more years of Obama, period. It boils down to this – right idea, but absolutely the wrong time. Sure, it might feel nice to buck the system, and vote for Johnson this November. However, if supporters of Johnson end up handing Obama a second term, then what? I don’t agree with Eye Desert on this one. If the Libertarian Party ends up getting blamed for a Romney loss this fall, the GOP will destroy the Libertarians, rightfully so. It’s what the Democratic Party should have done to Nader and the Green Party, but unlike that party, losing the Libertarian Party would be a real loss. Since it’s becoming fairly clear that the Republican establishment can’t seem to play well with the Tea Party, it seems that is where the work needs to be done. Imagine the political landscape in 2016 if the Libertarians and Tea Party join forces. Now, that is how you build a relevant third party in this country!

DOE Loan Recipients Submitted False Information

DOE Inspector General Testifies

Department of Energy (DOE) Inspector General Gregory Friedman’s testimony on Wednesday, November 2, 2011, before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee reinforces Republicans’ claim that Solyndra‘s bankruptcy is proof of how wasteful the Obama administration’s stimulus plan has been.

Friedman testified that investigations involved “various schemes, including the submission of false information, claims for unallowable or unauthorized expenses and other improper uses of Recovery Act funds.” The majority of grants and loan guarantees were given to “green” technology programs or research, including those that focused on high risk “energy efficiency and renewable energy” and “environmental management.” Friedman also said that the end of stimulus funding would lead to “significant downsizing of the contractor workforce.” He continued, “The department estimates that with the end of Recovery Act funding, over 4,000 workers at Environmental Management sites … will be displaced by the end of 2011.” Inspector Generals with the Departments of Energy and Labor told the House panel that reports show that billions of dollars in stimulus funding given to the agencies to create green jobs have failed to achieve that goal.

More than a hundred criminal investigations were launched into DOE’s handling of its 4% of the Obama stimulus. Friedman testified, “these involve various schemes, including the submission of false information, claims for unallowable or unauthorized expenses, and other improper uses of Recovery Act funds.” Five criminal prosecutions have resulted, and over $2.3 million in stolen “stimulus” money has been recovered. Even when it wasn’t beset by scam artists, the “stimulus” people found themselves so paralyzed by bureaucracy and paperwork that they couldn’t effectively give money away.

Green Job Training

Elliott Lewis, assistant inspector general for the audit office of the Department of Labor, said the agency received $500 million in stimulus funds for its Employment and Training Administration (ETA) for “competitive grants for research, labor exchange and job training projects to prepare workers for careers in the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries, the DOE Green Jobs program.”

Weatherization Program

Friedman testified, “Weatherization work was often of poor quality. In a recent audit performed at the state level, 9 of 17 weatherized homes we visited failed inspections because of substandard workmanship.” From this source we learn that in an August, 2011, report, the DOE’s inspector general had found quality to be a common problem in Missouri’s retrofits. And since 2009, when the Recovery Act was passed, the IG had released nearly a dozen audits of the Weatherization Assistance Program. “The IG reports haven’t been pretty,” said Michael Sciortino, a senior analyst with the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). “The quality of these jobs has been — it needs improvement.”

The weatherization program grew out of the 1970s oil crisis. It sought eligible, low-income Americans and outfitted their homes with the most cost-effective improvements. The program normally received $300 million or $400 million, but under the Recovery Act, it got $5 billion and a goal of retrofitting 600,000 homes. Sciortino said the haste to spend stimulus dollars and create jobs contributed to the quality problems in some states. Loans were not documented properly, money was wasted left and right, and one weatherization recipient “gave preferential treatment to its employees and their relatives for weatherization services over other applicants, thus disadvantaging eligible elderly and handicapped residents.”

Evaluation

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), chairman of the House subcommittee, commented on Freidman’s and Lewis’ testimony. Jordan said, “Mr. Friedman and Mr. Lewis, based on your testimony, it looks like both the weatherization program and the green jobs training program are, I guess, by anyone’s conclusion, just a complete failure.”

But that’s just my opinion.

Solyndra Scandal Update


Just so you know, Solyndra was the dream of Chris Gronet, who received a Ph.D. in semiconductor processing at Stanford University, and had spent 11 years as an executive at Applied Materials Inc. He adopted as the company’s motto, “What we do here will someday change the world.” He was forced out in July, 2010.

In September, 2011, I posted an article about Solyndra, the government’s rush to back loans, its bankruptcy, and the beginning of the investigation into its activities. I now propose to update the investigation. However, my update may not be current since new revelations are uncovered literally daily.

Details of the Scandal

President Barack Obama is treating the entire Solyndra scandal as an irrelevant non-event, and is being (uncharacteristically for him) very silent about it. Records show that Obama was briefed about Solyndra and other “green” projects, indicating that he was specifically warned about the hazards of expediting the “green energy” loan program. Among those warning Obama were Larry Summers and Tim Geithner (see below), but he ignored their advice and green lighted the loans.

Obama Knew About Solyndra

Before Solyndra went bankrupt, President Obama was warned of risks of the Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantee program. At a meeting with Obama in late October, 2010, Lawrence H. Summers, Steven Chu, and Timothy F. Geithner expressed concerns that the selection process for federal loan guarantees wasn’t rigorous enough. Chu wanted less scrutiny from the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Still, the Obama administration went ahead with loan guarantee program as part of the 2009 stimulus law, despite disagreements on the program.

Administration officials took their opposing views to President Obama in October 2010. A memorandum, drafted by Lawrence Summers, explained different concerns and options to fix a “broken process” for getting loans approved. A July, 2010, report by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) found that DOE committed to back loans without completing required studies of market, legal, and technical issues.

White House e-mails show Obama aides discussing Solyndra’s finances and fears that the loan could be a political embarrassment. One e-mail suggested that DOE appeared “ill-equipped” to identify worthy “green” companies.

DOE Loan Guarantee Program Head Resigns

Jonathan Silver, head of DOE’s loan program announced on Thursday, October 6, 2011, that he was stepping down. DOE officials said that Silver decided to leave the job in July because funding for the loan guarantee program was expiring. Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee said that Silver’s resignation failed to address concerns that other troubled loans may be among 38 projects the program that he led has funded.

Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) asked Silver why the government chose to invest in Solyndra’s “thin-film” solar-panel technology. Solyndra’s technology is one of the most complex and riskiest forms of solar technology. Silver dodged the question, then said, “I’m not a solar technical analyst.” Solyndra’s “thin-film” technology, said Bilbray, is rare and still in the early stages of development, making it a risky investment, but that fact didn’t stop DOE from putting taxpayer dollars at risk. Silver argued that the US needs to invest in solar energy in order to “keep up with China.” While China subsidizes its own solar industry, almost none of the Chinese funding of $30 billion per year goes to thin-film technology.

Solyndra Executives Plead Fifth Amendment

Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison and CFO W. G. Stover repeatedly refused to answer questions about Solyndra’s DOE loan guarantee, citing the US Constitution’s fifth amendment. Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) asked, “I want to ask Mr. Harrison if he thinks the American people who invested over a half a billion dollars deserve to know what happened to that money?” Harrison and Stover declined to answer, invoking their Fifth Amendment rights. The CEO and CFO of bankrupt Solyndra sat before a Congressional committee and invoked their Fifth Amendment rights, rather than explain how they blew through $535 million in taxpayer money.

How Solyndra Spent Tax Money

Bilbray, while in his office, questioned Solyndra’s choice of land on which to build its new facility. The site chosen was one of the most expensive pieces of land in the country. Solyndra chose to build on 30 acres of farmland in Fremont, Calif., on a site that was classified by the EPA as a “non-attainment zone,” meaning that air quality did not meet certain federal standards. He also questioned Solyndra’s decision to build a brand-new manufacturing facility, citing the availability of several buildings in the area. The going rate for industrial properties in Silicon Valley, where Solyndra built, is the fourth-most expensive in the U.S.

The new factory that Solyndra built with public money had a conference room with glass walls that turned a smoky gray to conceal the room’s occupants. Hastily purchased state-of-the-art equipment ended up being sold for pennies on the dollar, still in its plastic wrap.

As Solyndra’s new $344 million factory went up near its leased plant in Fremont, CA, workers watched as pallets of unsold solar panels accumulated. Former Solyndra engineer Lindsey Eastburn said, “After we got the loan guarantee, they were just spending money left and right. Because we were doing well, nobody cared. Because of that infusion of money, it made people sloppy.” Putting some work on a 24-hour, seven-day schedule, the facility was up and ready for equipment installation in 10 months. The project employed more than 3,000 union construction workers.

When completed at an estimated cost of $733 million, Solyndra’s new facility covered 300,000 square feet, the equivalent of five football fields. It had robots that whistled Disney tunes, spa-like showers with liquid-crystal displays of water temperature, and glass-walled conference rooms. The facility had 19 loading docks, four electric car charging stations, and landscaping of wild grass and a rock garden. An automated rail system moved parts through the assembly process. Robots that resembled “a big freezer with wheels” maneuvered around the factory transporting panels from one machine to another. The Disney tunes alerted workers of the robots’ presence.

Waste?

Tax-payer money wasted? It sure sounds like. And all at the alter of “green, renewable energy.” But this is what we have come to expect from the Obama administration.

But that’s just my opinion.