Investors Flock to ‘Clean’ Tech, So Why the Subsidies?

According to a report in USA Today, venture capitalists are throwing tons of money into clean and “Green” technology companies. In fact, investor Alan Salzman of VantagePoint Capital Partners says, “It’s not alternative: We think of it as mainstream.”

How mainstream? The newspaper says:

Several venture capitalists interviewed say it could be hundreds of billions of dollars — if not more — when adding up various slices, such as wind (estimated $60 billion) and solar ($20 billion to $30 billion).

There is little doubt what VCs think: They poured $4.9 billion into domestic start-ups last year, up 40% from 2009, says market researcher Cleantech Group.

The numbers suggest “strong long-term VC interest,” says Sheeraz Haji, an analyst at Cleantech Group who notes that an increase in the average size of deals shows a “continued bias towards later-stage deals.”

Wow. And the evidence just flows and flows Read More ➡

Indiana Scandal Means More Heat for Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers

Jim Rogers photoLast month NLPC reported that Duke Energy CEO James Rogers faced increasing questions about his leadership, in part because of conflicts of interest with top company officials and the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. Now the state’s Ethics Commission has fined a former top lawyer at IURC because he discussed a potential job with Duke while he participated in cases that would determine cost recovery for the utility’s controversial Edwardsport coal gasification plant.

The Indianapolis Star reported that the lawyer, Scott Storms, committed three violations of state law in the scandal, and the Ethics panel fined him $12,120 and barred him from future state employment. From the report:

In a six-page ruling, the ethics commission said Storms, while general counsel and chief administrative law judge at the IURC, was negotiating for a job or “had an arrangement” concerning prospective employment with Duke as he took part in cases involving the company’s

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GM’s Capital Outlays Dictated by Politics, Not Economics

green GM logoGeneral Motors recently announced a couple of more ways to freely spend taxpayer money. While GM boasts of “investing” in politically-correct “green” initiatives and makes misleading job “creation or preservation” claims, shareholders continue to be neglected as share price languishes below the IPO price. Although GM seems to dislike the nickname of “Government Motors”, its actions belie the company’s perceived desire to run a profitable, publicly-owned corporation.

GM’s latest efforts to appeal to the environmentally conscientious crowd involve the building of a solar powered plant in Michigan to build the Chevy Volt. The project will cost GM (as well as taxpayers and shareholders) $3 million. The savings on electric usage are stated to be $15,000 per year. At that rate, the building will pay for itself; in 200 years! Not exactly a cost effective investment. The inefficient investment is still worthy of boasting from GM. Bob Ferguson, vice president of … Read More ➡

Are ‘Green’ Corporate Rankings a Scam?

money handshake imageRankings, ratings and scorecards are often only vehicles for environmental groups to draw attention to their cause (as with Greenpeace), and more often than not they are given legitimacy – even when they conflict with other likeminded groups – since a sympathetic media likes to amplify their agenda.

And then there are the operatives who just want to make a buck off the “Green” scam with the creation of faux rankings. Such appears to be the case with GreenBusiness Works, which last week published its 2011 “Southeastern Corporate Sustainability Rankings.” The Atlanta-based group is the creation of a marketing and communications guru named Stephanie Armistead, who years ago converted her agency to one that focuses on the liberal priority of “Corporate Social Responsibility.”

The rankings showered love on companies that any business consultant like Armistead would want as clients. GreenBusiness Works pegged United Parcel Service as the top … Read More ➡

Bailed-Out GM is NOT Adding 4,200 Jobs

Once again, the media is uncritically reporting inaccurate claims by General Motors. GM says it is creating 4,200 jobs by spending $2 billion of taxpayer money on plant investments, but it is using the same misleading calculations employed by the Obama administration about job creation through the stimulus program. GM states that it will “invest” $2 billion, thereby “creating OR preserving” more than 4,000 jobs at 17 facilities. In other words, GM is equating keeping people employed in their present jobs with job creation.

GM went bankrupt, took over $50 billion of taxpayer money, and then went on a spending spree before taxpayers were paid back. This hardly seems like cause to rejoice. My guess is that the strategy of boasting about “creating or preserving” jobs at a time when the US Treasury is close to selling taxpayers’ stake in GM at a huge loss is a red herring. Now … Read More ➡

Pfizer CEO Refuses to Repudiate Support for ObamaCare at Annual Meeting

Ian Read photoUnder questioning by me, Pfizer CEO Ian Read refused to repudiate the company’s support for ObamaCare at the company’s annual meeting today in Dallas. The exchange took place after my remarks in favor our shareholder proposal on the company’s lobbying priorities.

When I asked Read if the company would drop its support for ObamaCare, he gave me a summary of what the company considers important in health care reform without directly answering. I said, “Sir, will you answer my question? A ‘yes’ or ‘no’ will do.” Read rambled further and I responded by saying, “But have already cast your lot with one side.” Finally, I said “I will take it as a ‘no.’ Thank you.” Here are my remarks in favor of our proposal:

Mr. Read, I am here for one reason, to urge a change of course on Pfizer’s support for ObamaCare. The mission of the National Legal and … Read More ➡

Pfizer Support for ObamaCare to be Challenged at Annual Meeting

Pfizer logoI will speak in favor of our shareholder proposal spotlighting Pfizer’s deal with the White House to support ObamaCare at the company’s annual meeting on Thursday, April 28 at the Renaissance Hotel in Dallas, Texas. The resolution itself asks for a report on Pfizer’s lobbying priorities. Our supporting statement in the Pfizer proxy reads, in part:

Pfizer played a key role in the passage of ObamaCare, even though a majority of Americans were opposed. CEO Jeffrey Kindler organized pharmaceutical CEOs in support of the bill, promoted a massive advertising campaign, and partnered with Left-wing groups normally hostile to Pfizer’s interests. For these actions, he received a multi-million dollar bonus.

According to media reports, Pfizer and other companies made an $80 billion deal with the Obama administration. In return for support of ObamaCare, the companies received (broken) promises of a guarantee of customers and insulation from certain kinds of competition. This

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CNBC: Flaherty Says Rajaratnam Conviction Will Impact Wall St.

Today I discussed whether Wall Street will change the way it does business if Raj Rajaratnam is convicted, with Richard Roth of The Roth Law Firm, and CNBC host is Scott Cohn. Here is a transcript:

Scott Cohn: The jury in Raj Rajaratnam’s insider trading trial should begin deliberating later today. Galleon Group founder, Mr. Rajaratnam accused of making at least sixty eight million dollars by trading illegally. So we ask, if Raj is convicted will Wall Street change the way it does business? Joining us now is Richard Roth, founder of the Roth law firm and Peter Flaherty is President of the National Legal and Policy Center. Gentleman, it is good to talk to you. Mr. Roth, the cynic in me says regardless of what happens to Mr. Rajaratnam Wall Street is not going to change its ways is it?

Richard Roth: The cynic in you is … Read More ➡

Climate Scorekeepers Can’t Keep Their Grades Straight

green Apple logoGreenpeace, which has been blown off by one of its co-founders because of its radical behavior, often leaves itself open to easy ridicule – for example, by the promotion of dirty energy sources. Now they’ve done it again.

Only 1½ years ago Greenpeace cheered Apple Computer for its departure from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over its disagreement on cap-and-trade and federal climate change policy. With Al Gore on the board of directors, you understand what side of the issue the company is on.

So imagine everyone’s surprise when Greenpeace this week slammed Apple in a report on the electricity sources (coal, nuclear, gas, renewables, etc.) technology companies use for their “cloud” computing offerings. Tech companies such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon provide many of their services (like searches, social interaction, product sales, email, and in Apple’s case, iTunes) from servers based at massive data “farms,” located at various … Read More ➡

GM Wastes Taxpayer Money at New York Auto Show

private reception signFrom General Motor’s lavish presence at the New York International Auto Show taking place this week and next, you would think that the company is wildly profitable and that it has already paid back the $50 billion it got from taxpayers. Either that, or GM’s much-ballyhooed cost cutting has failed, and that its bad old habits are very much alive.

NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica and I spent Wednesday walking the floor of the show at the massive Jacob Javits Convention Center on New York City’s west side. It is impossible to know how much GM is spending on displaying its vehicles, technologies and related events, but it is more than any other car company. And it is certainly too much.

Transformers photoSome simple metrics quantify GM’s spending binge at the show. First, there’s square footage of display space. GM’s main display space occupies the entire North Hall of the Javits … Read More ➡

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