Obama Administration OKs Bird Killing— As Long As Its by Windmill

Duke Energy turbineFriday’s announcement by the Obama administration that it will allow wind energy companies to kill certain bird species for 30 years without legal ramifications shows that its $1 million paltry fine of Duke Energy for avian slayings a week earlier was just for show.

Slamming the president for the application of double standards, not enforcing laws it doesn’t like, and acting unilaterally without Congressional authority is nothing new. It’s not often, though, you see such an obvious policy contradiction appear within such a short period of time. And now, without need to worry about re-election, he can pit his environmental constituencies against each other (wildlife protection vs. green energy promotion).

The latest decision, by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, extends the maximum possible term for permits to “take” (“molest or disturb”… “take, possess, sell, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import…”) from …

Duke Energy Fine for Bird Kills is All Show, No Substance

Duke Energy turbineLast week’s punishment/settlement between the Department of Justice and Duke Energy over bird deaths caused by its wind turbines gives evidence that the Obama administration needed a scapegoat, to defuse accusations that it applies a double-standard in enforcement of wildlife laws.

The Friday before Thanksgiving both parties announced that Duke would pay $1 million for the deaths of more than 160 birds that are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The incidents occurred over the last four years at two Wyoming sites operated by the utility’s Duke Energy Renewables subsidiary.

“This case represents the first criminal conviction under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for unlawful avian takings at wind projects,” said Robert Dreher, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, in a statement.

That’s nice. The problem is the timing of the action coincided with a response by the Justice Department to Republican …

SPECIAL REPORT: The Carnahan Wind Deal: Crony Capitalism in Missouri

Carnahan Wind Deal coverIn this 23-page report, NLPC Associate Fellow Fred N. Sauer looks at Wind Capital Group (WCG), a St. Louis-based company that has been the recipient of Obama administration stimulus funding, as well as other significant tax credits and subsidies.

WCG was founded in 2005 by Tom Carnahan, son of the late Missouri Democratic Governor Mel Carnahan and his widow, former Missouri Senator Jean Carnahan. He also is the brother of former Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan and former Congressman Russ Carnahan.

The firm’s core activity is building and operating wind farms in the Midwest, with a focus on the northwest part of Missouri. But to really understand how the firm operates is to know who has become wealthy as a result. WCG is now almost wholly owned by an Irish company, NTR plc. The Carnahan family’s expertise is politics, not business. And Wind Capital Group, though touted as an …

Fiscal Cliff Deal Saves Big Wind for Another Year

wind turbineThe “fiscal cliff” agreement was not only low-lighted by a wholesale surrender on taxes and spending by the Republicans, but also featured special favors and breaks for recreational industries like film production ($430 million) and motorsports ($70 million), as well as the sector that has been oft-criticized since President Obama entered the White House: renewable energy.

Specifically, while nothing new came through for often-bashed electric automobiles, tax credits (all continuations of credits that were set to expire) were extended to plug-in motorcycles. Buyers are allowed to deduct from their tax bills 10 percent of the cost of the two- (or three-)wheelers, or $2,500, whichever is less. This parallels the $7,500 federal tax credit for four-wheeled electric cars such as the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf. The breaks are projected to cost taxpayers $4 million over the next two years.

The cliff aversion perversion also delivered for the …

Jim Rogers’s Power Grab Underscores Politicization of Duke Energy

Jim Rogers and windmill photoAfter a lengthy process that overcame a demanding review at the North Carolina Utilities Commission and two rejections by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Duke Energy won approval to merge with the Tar Heel State’s other major investor-owned utility, Progress Energy.

Then Duke’s board immediately pulled a fast one and fired the man they said all along would be the joint entity’s CEO, Bill Johnson, who would have continued from the same role he had with Progress. Instead leading the new combined company will be Duke’s current CEO, James Rogers. Throughout the merger approval process everyone understood he would abdicate that role to Johnson while remaining as company chairman.

The NCUC and state attorney general, Roy Cooper, were shocked by the move and are not pleased. Even less happy are many (now) former directors for Progress, who told the media last week that they never …

Al Gore & Duke Energy: Marriage Made in Regulation Hell

Rogers photoThe North Carolina fuel cell project in which former Vice President Al Gore has a conflict of interest as a director of Apple, Inc., illustrates how crony socialism and state mandates to utilize so-called “Green” energy converge to benefit wealthy corporatists at the expense of regular citizens.

Yesterday NLPC reported that Apple’s plans to build a costly fuel cell electricity generation facility adjacent to its new data center in Maiden, N.C., was a conflict for Gore, because plans show Apple has enlisted Bloom Energy to build the project.

In addition to his Apple role, Gore is also an investor in Bloom through his role as a senior partner with Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers. According to a report in The News & Observer of Raleigh last week, Bloom could reap as much as $30 million from the deal – about $6.7 million per megawatt – based upon calculations …

Lawyers Who Backed Obama Advised on Failed Loan Programs

Obama InvescoLast week NLPC reported that an international law firm, whose employees provided significant campaign support for President Obama, was paid $1.8 million from the stimulus to review and conduct “due diligence” for the Department of Energy’s suspended loan to Fisker Automotive, an electric vehicle start-up company. Fisker sent 65 workers to the unemployment lines.

Debevoise and Plimpton, which employs top Obama bundler and fundraiser David Rivkin, wasn’t the only largely Democratic law firm to reap such rewards. At least four other major law practices also analyzed DOE’s loan programs and its grantees – three of which gave large sums of money to the campaigns of President Obama and fellow Democrats.

Debevoise, on the heels of  $199,944 in donations to Sen. Barack Obama for his 2008 presidential campaign, was able to land the contract to analyze loans from DOE’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program to troubled Fisker

Green Tech Doesn’t Need Taxpayer ‘Investment’

Google logoPresident Obama said in his State of the Union speech last month that he would not “walk away from the promise of clean energy,” and according to a Politico report, he “doubled-down” on the promise by highlighting (more) commitments to federal grants and incentives for wind energy, solar power and natural gas vehicles in quasi-campaign speeches out West.

“We’re not going to cede the wind industry or the solar industry or the battery industry to China or Germany because we’re too timid to make that same commitment here in the United States,” the president said at another appearance at Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado. “We’ve got to double down on a clean-energy industry that’s never been more promising.”

The president speaks as if these energy technologies would wither without government support. But last year USA Today reported that big companies were “aggressively” jumping into clean technology, with one …

Taxpayers Take Hit as Layoffs, Bankruptcies Plague Green Firms

Ener1 photoFederal tax credits, loan and grant programs that expired at the end of last year have plugged the financial flow that made so-called “renewables” and electric vehicles viable, so they are now shedding employees and going bankrupt, illustrating that the “clean” industry owed its existence solely to government.

Even with the government money, they are failing. Yesterday Indiana-based Ener1, an energy storage company that received $118.5 million from DOEfiled for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Despite plans to have 1,400 employees in Indiana by 2015, the company had downsized in the state from 380 to approximately 250 since March. Ener1’s stock price fell from more than $4 a share to under a dollar, and the company was booted from the NASDAQ stock exchange in October, when its stock was trading for less than 20 cents.

The Department of Energy seems to have no limit in its willingness to subsidize …

FERC Flunks Duke Energy-Progress Energy Merger Proposal, Again

white Coke can

Fresh from its latest payoff of environoia groups in exchange for their support of their merger, Duke Energy and Progress Energy must return to the drawing board after the second rejection of their proposal by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

It’s a story of two Davids against a Goliath, and no, it’s not the utilities against the big bad government regulator. Rather, two small eastern North Carolina cities – Rocky (“Gonna Fly Now”) Mount and New Bern – convinced FERC that the merger plan would harm their ability to purchase electricity in a competitive environment. Both municipalities deliver power to their residents through a cooperative of cities and towns in eastern North Carolina, but dissented from their fellow members’ approval of the merger. Coastal New Bern has been led by Mayor Lee Bettis Jr., a former New York Mafiosi defense lawyer, who has vowed to “go it alone the …

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