Skip to comments.Annoying Greenie on Defense
Posted on 01/12/2014 10:28:27 AM PST by Kaslin
After decades of controlling Americas energy narrative, on January 5, CBSs 60 Minutes fired a shot that has put the green lobby on the defensive. The next day, two very different media outlets lobbed blows that could represent a new trend; a change of tone in Washington.
The 60 Minutes piece, featuring correspondent Lesley Stahl, aired, perhaps intentionally, at a time when it may have had the lowest possible viewership, as it aired opposite the NFL playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers. You may have missed it. But environmental/renewable-energy believers took the hitand they are pushing back.
Stahl opened The cleantech crash with:
About a decade ago, the smart people who funded the Internet turned their attention to the energy sector, rallying tech engineers to invent ways to get us off fossil fuels, devise powerful solar panels, clean cars, and futuristic batteries. The idea got a catchy name: Cleantech. Silicon Valley got Washington excited about it. President Bush was an early supporter, but the federal purse strings truly loosened under President Obama. Hoping to create innovation and jobs, he committed north of a $100 billion in loans, grants and tax breaks to Cleantech. But instead of breakthroughs, the sector suffered a string of expensive tax-funded flops. Suddenly Cleantech was a dirty word.
Midway through the segment, Stahl states: Well, Solyndra went through over half a billion dollars before it failed. Then I'm gonna give you a list of other failures: Abound Energy, Beacon Power, Fisker, V.P.G., Range Fuels, Ener1, A123. ECOtality. Im exhausted.
Regarding Stahls list, Bruce Barcott, who writes frequently about the outdoors and the environment, in a rant for OnEarth Magazine about the 60 Minutes segment, asks: Where was the evidence of cleantechs crash in the 60 Minutes report? He continues: It seemed to boil down to the fact that Solyndra, Fisker, LG Chem, and five other clean tech companies went bankrupt. All true.
Perhaps, to Barcott, eight bankrupt companies do not offer enough evidence to write green energys obit. How much would he need?
If Stahl had read the entire list of Obama-backed taxpayer-funded green-energy projects that have gone bustlet alone those that are circling the drain, she would have truly been fatigued. Together with researcher Christine Lakatos, Ive been following the foibles for the past eighteen months. Our bankrupt list (updated May 2013) includes 2517 more than Stahl cited (and there have been new failures since then).
Calling the cleantech crash segment a hit piece, Barcott claims: the evidence of success is overwhelming.
In the National Journals daily energy newsletter, Energy Edge, Amy Harder agrees with Barcott: The story did not give much credence to successful renewable-energy ventures or to a major impetus for clean energy, which is global warming (as opposed to just job creation). She adds: Nonetheless, the report reminds green-energy advocates that Solyndras shadow is not nearly gone.
For RenewableEnergyWorld.com, Scott Sklar, a DC lobbyist for clean, distributed-energy users and companies using renewable energy, claims: In reality, clean energy has never looked better. He called the 60 Minutes segment a bash fest and suggested: it seemed like it was co-written by the Koch Brothers.
For the National Journal, Ben Geman wrote: Green-Energy Battle Flares Over 60 Minutes Report. He concludes: The report and the response are the latest thrust and parry over White House backing for green-energy projects that have faced heavy GOP criticism. The Energy Departmentwhich Stahl said declined to grant her an interviewhit back on Sunday night. The department has for years noted that failed or badly struggling companies represent only a very small portion of the overall green-energy loan portfolio. Simply put, 60 Minutes is flat wrong on the facts. The clean-energy economy in America is real, and we are more competitive than ever in this rapidly expanding global industry. This is a race we can, must, and will win, spokesman William Gibbons said in a statement.
Ironically, while the believers busily hit back, the news tells a different story.
One of the projects featured by 60 minutes is KiORa Columbus, Mississippi, plant that turns wood products into gasoline, diesel, and fuel oil funded in part by venture capitalist Vinod Khoslahas shut down in a cost-cutting move. A January 9 report states: the debate in Washington in changing alternative fuel standards drove down prices so low that the company couldnt afford to continue production for now until it can get efficiencies to the point where it is producing at least 80 gallons of fuel for every ton of wood. Even if Khoslas KiOR is able to improve efficiencies to 80 gallons of fuel for every ton of woodwhich would be about four times the current productionthat is still a terrible return. (Incidentally, Khosla started the bankrupt Range Fuels that was mentioned by Lesley Stahl in her brief list of failed cleantech programs.
Robert Rapier, also featured in the 60 Minutes segmentwhich focused primarily on biofuelsreported on the Department of Energys follow up audit for Financial Assistance for Integrated Biorefinery Projects. Among his results, Rapier states: 40 percent of the demonstration-scale and commercial-scale projects selected from the FOAs [Funding Opportunity Announcements] were mutually terminated by the DOE and the recipients after expending more than $75 million in taxpayer dollars. He cites the audit: Program officials acknowledged the projects selected were not fully ready for commercial-scale operations and that the projects were high-risk. However, they indicated that the EPAct required them to move forward with commercial-scale projects Rapier concludes: I think the lesson here is that political wishes continue to trump scientific realities, and taxpayers are left to pay the bills. If only our political leaders understood that you cant mandate technical breakthroughs, even if you require money to be spent trying to do so.
Hardly the overwhelming success 60 Minutes detractors proclaim.
Barcott defends use of taxpayer money to support emerging technologies and acknowledges that asking hard questions about if and when we should cut off that support is, well, hard.
All of this thrust and parry is taking place during the time Congress is considering retroactively extending various tax breaks for cleantech projectssuch as the Production Tax Credit for wind energy that expired on December 31, 2013. Amid the blows fired upon the renewable energy industry this past week, The Chicago Tribune (hardly a defender of right-wing policies) piled on with a January 5 op-ed encouraging Congress and the White House to stop manipulating the tax code as America's de facto energy policy: Thorough federal tax reform should sunset this arbitrary favoritism for wind energy and other politically favored industries.
The other lobs, from CNBC and Fox News, landed on January 6.
CNBCs Kudlow Report featured a what happened to global warming segment in which Larry Kudlow scoffs at the all wrong predictions that have now come unglued. His guest, Steve Haywarda visiting professor at the University of Colorado, Boulderstated: Global warming is going away like so many other scares before it. Hayward claimed that environmental crises follow a pattern: Find a problem and blow it up into a world-ending crisis and demand endless political solutions. Yucking it up, they laughed at the sheer comedy of the ship getting stuck in the ice in Antarctica, calling it an eco-tourism stunt that backfired badly.
On Fox Business, Stuart Varneys Stuart Says feature was: Annoying greenies influence policy that hurts U.S. In his 2-minute-18-second monologue, Varney suggests that we respond to this climate change demagoguery with ridicule. Frankly, the global warming crowd now looks ridiculous. People are laughing at them.
Yes, the annoying greenies are on the defenseand, as the Green Bay players on that cold January 5 in Wisconsin knew, you cant win on the defense.
60 Minutes is still on the air?
60 Minutes was once known for being the source of fearless truth-telling
That is quite a list of failures. Let us not forget the people who wrote the software for Obamacare. Another big failure.
I remember the left used to rave about Haliburton. Well at least they performed the job they were paid to do.
Wrong answer. The push towards renewable energy should be motivated by an uncertain fossil fuel supply, not by a scary hypothesis which has little real data to back it up. The oil cartels are real, and controlled by people who have little interest in "live and let live." Plus, there is the problem that we really do not know how much oil or coal is left. There is a finite amount. While we have enough now, to fail to do the research to come up with renewable alternatives until there are real shortages would be incredibly short-sighted.
There’s a huge difference between funding research and development, and subsidizing industrial-scale implementation. What’s the panic? There’s been no global warming for nearly 20 years. “Peak oil” has been delayed for (about) another century. Why dump hundreds of billions of dollars into subsidies for industries, whose technologies aren’t ready for prime time?
The socialist left will never admit that any of their pet projects is a failure or produces unintended bad results.
This year is the 50th anniversary of Pres. Lyndon Johnson’s “war on Poverty. They are breathless about it and now want to double down on it, despite no change in the percent of Americans at poverty level, other than the population numbers have more than doubled.
As an incentive, the amount of this dream fuel was set at an ever increasing amount and in 2012, the EPA levied the cost of its absence in 2011 at $6.8 million with corresponding scheduled increases of both amounts and fines in coming years. However, a Federal Appeals Court did overturn these fines in 2013 although allowing the EPA to continue setting requirements at a lower amount in coming years. It would appear from this article that some progress is being made in this technology but at fearsome cost!
I wonder if the EPA will require shipment of this fabulous stuff in "Kline Bottles"?
The dollar figures make me sick to my stomach. And I’ve got the IRS sending me nasty letters about some taxes they say I “owe” them. I suppose they need the money in order to make more loans (i.e. gifts) to new democrat-owned green businesses.
Yes, 95% of the time, it really IS that simple.
No idea, I haven’t watched it in ages
And now they are telling one lie after another
Consider it stolen
That's a good point. In my field of medical research, we typically see technologies at least ten years before they reach clinical use. The people developing alternative energy technologies are most likely working in small labs. It is ridiculous to go large scale before the methodology has even been worked out.
$300 Million dollars for our Oregon state exchange, hired by our third term doctor governor, liberal democrat. Not one person has signed up through it, although over 100,000+ new Oregon citizens have now been added to our state medicaid.