Taxpayer-Funded Solar Company Leaves Environmental, Financial Mess

solar panelsIt may be the height of irony that a company that was supposed to soar to the top of the new clean energy economy, with the help of U.S. taxpayers to undergird President Obama’s stimulus visions, has instead left both an environmental and financial mess after its demise.

Yet that’s exactly the case with miserable failure Abound Solar, which the president’s Department of Energy thought so much of, they awarded it a $400 million loan guarantee. That proposition quickly soured and the government halted payouts after about $70 million. The company went bankrupt in June 2012, leaving taxpayers out between $40 million and $60 million that was never recovered.

There was other collateral damage, not the least of which was a huge toxic mess from unused panels and abandoned chemicals at Abound’s former facilities. The environmental nightmare was discovered earlier this year, but this month – thanks to … Read More ➡

Walmart Prefers Political Correctness to Profitability

Mike Duke photoLast week it was Walmart CEO Mike Duke’s duty to find an explanation for continuing declines in same store sales, as the company hosted its 20th Annual Meeting for the Investment Community on Tuesday.

Despite the fact that the most recent quarterly report ended in July and brought a surprising (to analysts) .3 percent drop for the second quarter, when a one percent gain was expected, Duke cited the two-week old government shutdown and a “tough and unpredictable global economy” as reasons for the poor performance.

“It should come as no surprise that the government shutdown is on the minds of our U.S. customers,” Duke told his audience. “As you would expect, we’re following the situation very closely.”

Of course the shutdown came long after the second quarter reports, so there had to be other explanations.

“The competition is also tough,” Duke said. “I see it when I … Read More ➡

Tesla Fire is About Rushing, Subsidizing Immature Technology, Not Stock Price

Tesla fireA fire (screen capture from Jalopnik.com) that torched a Model S from the formerly Teflon Tesla Motors on Tuesday blackened its front end, lowered its stock price, and (further) revealed a corporate arrogance not seen since Fisker Karmas were alight.

But CEO Elon Musk saw to it that taxpayers were fully paid back their $465 million Department of Energy loan, so as watchdogs over the public purse we can forget all about it and just go on about our business – right?

Wrong. The incident near Seattle still should be of great concern because Tesla still heavily depends on tax breaks (like the consumer’s $7,500 federal credit) and the sale of emissions credits (mainly from California) to partially subsidize the costs of their electric cars. Moreover, the government has invested billions of dollars in the research and development of new battery technology, all in the name of energy efficiency … Read More ➡

EPA’s Emissions Rule Would Likely Increase Carbon Dioxide

enhanced oil recovery

On the heels of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s official position that human-generated carbon dioxide is “extremely likely” the “dominant” cause of warming since the mid-20th Century, the Environmental Protection Agency’s simultaneously proposed rule to limit such emissions from fossil-fueled power plants is contradictory.

EPA has wholeheartedly sold the global warming “scientific consensus” justification for CO2 limits to the public, and as a result has conducted a “war against coal” in conjunction with environmental pressure groups for years. And President Obama – who was most recently vocal about it in June – called for the elimination of tax breaks for “Big Oil” and has repeatedly expressed opposition to the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

So what’s the contradiction?

Under the proposed EPA rule, newly built coal-fired power plants would have to eliminate 40 percent of their carbon dioxide emissions by using not-ready-for-prime-time capture and sequestration … Read More ➡

EPA, IPCC Push Ahead Even as Global Warming Theories Crumble

Ten days ago the Environmental Protection Agency issued its proposed rule for the implementation of regulations of carbon dioxide on utilities’ coal-fired power plants. Last week revealed news that there is no reason for costly government-imposed limits on such emissions, as the global warming they were supposed to cause has been absent for 15 years.

That didn’t stop the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change from issuing yet another alarm on Friday, ahead of its official report yesterday, that said increased carbon dioxide caused by people is negatively affecting the earth’s climate.

“It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” said the IPCC’s Summary for Policymakers, which previewed the official physical science findings released Monday. The bold proclamation came despite the widespread failure of Alarmist Science’s computer modeling that foretold a rise in global temperatures in conjunction … Read More ➡

Stimulus Program Delivered Free Trees to Rich People…and a Reporter

Denver free treesNLPC has reported regularly on several of the large-ticket boondoggles that have received taxpayer support via President Obama’s “green” stimulus initiatives, but for every Fisker, Nissan Leaf or Ecotality, there are thousands of smaller, equally unworthy beneficiaries that deserve public scorn.

Government watchdogs – both “professional” and amateur – can scour the Recovery.gov Web site and find the waste pretty easily. But KCNC-TV reporter Brian Maass had the stimulus program come to his doorstep. Denver had launched a program, paid for out of the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to plant about 4,000 trees at private residences (photo courtesy KCNC) – many in high-priced neighborhoods that didn’t need the free shade.

“This fella said, ‘How would you like to have a tree in your yard?’ And I said, ‘Really?,’” said John Backlund, who lives in Denver’s Cherry Creek North neighborhood in a home worth more … Read More ➡

Not Even Fisker’s Fire Sale Can Dampen DOE Enthusiasm for ‘Investments’

Fisker logoAfter the Department of Energy announced this week it had given up on not-bankrupt-but-should-be Fisker Automotive, and will auction off its loan for a pittance, you’d think (and hope) Congress would have had enough of this kind of thing. Senator John Thune certainly has.

“The Obama administration has gotten into the business of picking winners and losers at a significant cost to taxpayers,” said the South Dakota Republican yesterday. “I’m calling for the Senate to consider my amendment to eliminate the wasteful ATVM loan program and for my colleagues to join me in protecting taxpayer dollars from any future risky green energy investments.”

ATVM stands for “Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing,” but Fisker’s allegedly advanced technology vehicle – the once and often hyped Karma – hasn’t been manufactured for over a year. Nor is Vehicle Production Group, another failed ATVM recipient, producing any handicapped vans that run on compressed natural … Read More ➡

DOE Claims More ‘Success’ With Another Clean Energy Bankruptcy

Blink chargerEcotality declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday.

Compared to other Recovery Act beneficiaries that have failed – like battery maker A123 Systems and electric auto company Fisker Automotive – the deathwatch was short. A July 25th report issued by the Department of Energy’s Inspector General declared Ecotality’s EV Project largely a waste of time and misallocated money.

Then in mid-August Ecotality informed the Securities and Exchange Commission it was in deep financial trouble, with bankruptcy a possibility. A filing showed that the company was unable to obtain additional financing and the DOE had ceased payments to it for the EV Project until the agency could investigate further. DOE also warned Ecotality to not incur any new costs or obligations under the EV Project.

NLPC first raised questions about Ecotality’s viability and origins in October 2011.

Monday’s development is another black eye to President Obama’s green energy agenda, but … Read More ➡

House Committee Grills DOE Loan Program Director Over Secret Emails

Jonathan SilverA hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last week investigated the Obama administration’s practice of concealing email communications, with former top officials getting grilled about their use of private Internet accounts to conduct government business.

Two of the most egregious offenders were subject to withering scrutiny, although it didn’t last long enough to get very deep. Lisa Jackson, the former EPA Administrator whose FOIA-evadable email address was under the alias “Richard Windsor” – named in part for her dog – was questioned about a message sent to Siemens vice president Alison Taylor in which she asked her to “use my home email rather than this one when you need to contact me directly….”

Jackson, of course, said it was perfectly normal to direct a corporation official that she regulates to communicate with her via methods for which the public has no access. Marlo Lewis of … Read More ➡

DOE Hid Info About Loan Recipient’s Bad Condition in April House Hearing

Fisker hearingBeing an Obama administration stimulus failure doesn’t mean you have to be electric, and it also doesn’t mean the Department of Energy won’t pretend you’re still legitimate when Congressional pressure is on.

The neutrally named Vehicle Production Group, which was loaned $50 million by the DOE thanks to the Recovery Act, revealed in May it had stopped operations in February and laid off 100 staff, after DOE froze its assets. Now, in a typical Obama administration “hope-they-don’t-notice” Friday announcement, DOE told American taxpayers that $42 million of that money won’t be paid back. Apparently there weren’t many assets left to freeze.

About $5 million was recovered by the government. The weekend info release said the rest of the debt was sold at auction for about $3 million to AM General, a Humvee manufacturer.

“After exhausting any realistic possibility for a sale that might have protected our … Read More ➡

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