Last week Al Gore called capitalism “unsustainable.” It was a silly pronouncement, but considering the way that the Obama administration is manipulating the economy to benefit its “green energy” buddies, the ex-vice president may have stumbled across a greater truth: Obama’s crony-capitalism is clearly unsustainable.
In a blockbuster story published last week, Washington Post reporters Carol D. Leonnig and Joe Stephens outlined more of the details of the incestuous relationship that the administration and green energy companies share. With $80 billion of stimulus money set aside for so-called clean energy projects there was a huge temptation to cross ethical boundaries separating the private and public sectors and it appears that few people involved in the business were able to resist that kind of temptation.
For example, the Post story explains how venture capitalist Sanjay Wagle served on an Energy Department panel that decided which companies would receive a chunk of the $80 billion pie, even though Wagle’s former firm – Vantage Point Venture Partners – received $2.4 billion of those funds over the past three years. According to the Post:
Wagle’s former employer had invested in several companies that received federal money: Brightsource, which won a $1.6 billion federal loan for a solar-generating plant; Tesla Motors, which won a $465 million loan to build electric cars; and biofuels firm Mascoma, which in 2011 received $80 million for a Michigan ethanol plant.
Overall, the Post investigation unearthed $3.9 billion in federal grants, and financing flowed to 21 companies backed by firms with connections to five Obama administration staffers and advisers. It’s easy to conclude that’s just the tip of a very big iceberg.
Ironically, these latest troubling revelations come just as the poster-child of the president’s failed energy policy is falling apart. The wind lobby was unable to convince Congress to extend production tax credits for wind power generation. Without that revenue, wind power cannot compete in the free market as even industry advocates themselves admit. Like failed solar power companies such as Solyndra and Ener1, the wind industry faces tough times ahead, despite billions upon billions of government subsidies.
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