January 25, 2021

Senator Vernon Asbill Presented With 2012 “Katie’s Hero” Award

Posted on 14. Aug, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Social/Cultural

Chicago, Illinois. (August 8, 2012)  - The parents of murder victim Katie Sepich were joined by abduction survivor Elizabeth Smart in presenting New Mexico State Senator Vernon Asbill with the “Katie’s Hero Award”.

The Katie’s Hero Award is an honor bestowed by the Sepich’s non-profit advocacy group DNA Saves on individuals for leadership in solving and preventing crime by supporting legislation to expand the use of forensic DNA technology.

According to the certificate of award, Senator Asbill was selected for his strong support of SB365 in 2011 to require DNA upon felony arrest in New Mexico, to ensure law enforcement is not unwittingly releasing repeat offenders back into the community.

Jayann Sepich, co-founder and president of DNA Saves, introduced the award and 2012 recipients at a Forensic DNA Luncheon event held concurrently during the annual meeting of the National Conference of State Legislators (held this year in Chicago).

In presenting the award, Ms. Sepich said, “The enactment of SB365 will have a profound and lasting impact on public safety in New Mexico.  Senator Asbill’s leadership on this issue will result in getting many rapists and other violent criminals off the streets, and will prevent additional New Mexico residents from being needlessly victimized.”

The keynote speaker at the luncheon was Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped at knife point from her own bedroom at the age of 14.

For nine months she was the captive of Brian David Mitchell until she was finally rescued.  In 2010, Mitchell was convicted of Smart’s abduction and was sentenced to life in prison.  Ms. Smart addressed the crowd of 100 legislators and their guests, representing twenty-six states.  She stated, “Arrestee DNA legislation is needed in every state to make our communities safer places to live.”

DNA Saves is a non-profit association organized to educate policy makers and the public about the value of forensic DNA.

The association was formed by Jayann and David Sepich in late 2008, marking the five year anniversary of the senseless murder of their daughter. DNA Saves is committed to working with every state to pass laws allowing DNA to be taken upon arrest, and to provide meaningful funding for DNA programs.

Had a DNA sample been taken from Katie’s murderer, Gabriel Avilla, upon arrest for an unrelated crime, the Sepichs would have discovered who killed their daughter only three months after her death. Instead, Avilla remained free to victimize more unsuspecting daughters, while the Sepichs waited for answers.  The Sepichs hope that by advocating for better DNA testing laws they can prevent another mother and father from asking “why?”

This release was submitted by Diane Kinderwater of NMLEGIS.gov.

Big-wind boondoggle supported by big-spending Republicans

Posted on 14. Aug, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

Big-spending Republicans should be afraid following the upset victories by Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz in Texas on Tuesday, over the establishment candidate David Dewhurst, and Richard Mourdock, over six-term incumbent Richard Lugar, in Indiana on May 9.

On Thursday, Washington Post editorial board member, Jonathan Capeheart said: “Folks might not like the Tea Party much. But that’s not stopping this loosely affiliated band of people fed up with government spending and deficits from sending like-minded souls to Congress.”

Bloomberg News said of the Cruz victory: “The Tea Party has no leader, no hierarchy and no national fundraising network, yet the insurgent political movement born of frustration at government spending has bolstered its clout—and its potential for aggravation—in the Republican Party with the nomination of U.S. Senate candidate and political newcomer Ted Cruz in Texas.”

The common thread in these quotes: “people fed up with government spending” and “born of frustration at government spending,” highlights the heart of the Tea Party movement—even though, is it just a “loosely affiliated band of people” with “no leader, no hierarchy and no national funding network.” The recent upsets reflect the grassroots’ growing dissatisfaction with the Republican Party’s failure to control spending.

Other than the August 14 senate race in Wisconsin where Mark Neumann and Eric Hovde are battling each other for the tea party backing in the race with establishment candidate, former governor Tommy Thompson, the extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy may be the next line of battle between the Tea Party Republicans and establishment Republicans hesitant to curb their big-spending ways.

I have written several columns in opposition to the PTC extension, but if you are not familiar with it, David Kreutzer of the Heritage Foundation explains it this way: “The wholesale prices of electricity in the different U.S. markets average from less than three cents per kilowatt hour (kW-h) to about 4.5 cents per kW-h.

The PTC provides a subsidy of 2.2 cents per kW-h to wind energy producers. So this PTC subsidy is equivalent to 50 percent to 70 percent of the wholesale price of electricity.” To which Phil Kerpen of American Commitment adds: “So taxpayers pick up more than half the cost for wind power—and even then many wind projects are struggling. It will never work, at any cost, because the concept of large-scale industrial wind power is based on bad science.”

When thinking about the PTC, it is important to realize that we, the taxpayers, have already been subsidizing the wind energy industry for more than 20 years and that the wind energy lobbyists, advocates, and manufacturers acknowledge that if the PTC is not extended, the industry cannot survive.

Surprisingly, the first shot in the spend/don’t spend battle over the extension of the PTC came from the “moderate” presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, when he came out on Monday with a statement regarding allowing the “longstanding tax credits that help finance wind energy projects” to expire, as scheduled, at the end of this year—a position in line with the Tea Party’s “frustration at government spending.”

According to Shawn McCoy, a spokesman for Romney’s Iowa campaign, “He will allow the wind credit to expire, end the stimulus boondoggles, and create a level playing field on which all sources of energy can compete on their merits. Wind energy will thrive wherever it is economically competitive, and wherever private sector competitors with far more experience than the president believe the investment will produce results.”

While this newly announced position splits Romney and Obama, it also splits the more conservative Republicans and the establishment Republicans—especially those from “wind states” such as Senator Charles Grassley (IA) and Senator Orrin Hatch (UT).

On Thursday, before leaving for a five-week vacation, the Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana moved a so-called tax extenders bill through the Senate Finance Committee—which would keep the PTC alive.

According to the AP. “The $200 billion-plus package was approved by the Senate Finance Committee Thursday on a bipartisan 19-5 vote.” Regarding the inclusion of the PTC in the bill, AP said: “That provision was initially targeted for elimination, but garnered critical support from Republicans like Charles Grassley of Iowa.” (Apparently Grassley has decided that it’s a good strategy to publicly slap Romney’s face.)

On Wednesday, before the vote, many groups, including Energy Makes America Great Inc., urged people to call the Senate Finance Committee Members and tell them not to vote for a bill that extended the PTC.

One citizen frustrated with government spending contacted Senator Grassley’s office to voice her opposition to the PTC extension. The aide asked where she was from. She told him: “Western New York State, where they are dumping these giant wind installations throughout entire townships and rendering people’s homes worthless.”

The aide replied, “Well, Senator Grassley is responsible for Iowans.” To which she said, “Excuse me? As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Grassley is responsible to ALL Americans! And we are damn sick and tired of the corporate welfare that’s going on to the likes of GE, BP, and Iberdrola via the PTC, while rendering many people’s most expensive life investment worthless.”

She reports that the conversation continued for a bit, during which time the aide repeated that “Senator Grassley is responsible to Iowans.” Her email with this account included a link to Grassley’s Facebook page and concluded: “Let this guy have it!! The Tea Party needs to go after this Grassley!!!”

I posted the following on his Facebook page: “As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator, you are responsible to ALL Americans. If your office is not willing to listen to opinions from all Americans, please remove yourself from this important committee.” The post was promptly removed.

Senator Grassley is not a member of the Tea Party Caucus. He is an establishment Republican, so his vote to extend the PTC should not be shocking—just disappointing. However, Senator Jerry Moran (KS) is a Tea Party Caucus Member (TPCM).

He is not on the Senate Finance Committee, so he couldn’t vote on Thursday’s bill, but my call to his office—and the offices of the other Senate TPCM—revealed that Moran is the only Senate TPCM who does support the extension of the PTC. My calls found that Senators DeMint, Lee, and Paul are each opposed to the extension.

I also called through the list of House TPCMs, as the House will vote on the PTC extension if it makes it through the Senate. Most politicos believe the extension will be addressed in the lame duck session so I wanted to get them on record regarding their philosophy on the PTC extension—which means more government boondoggle, less fiscal responsibility.

Due to their summer recess, my research was inconclusive, but I did find that Representatives Coffman (CO), Farenthold (TX), Fleming (LA), Lamborn (CO), McClintock (CA), Pearce (NM), Stearns (FL), and Wilson (SC) were willing to be bold and oppose the PTC extension. Kline (MN) is not a TPCM, but has been strong in his opposition to the PTC extension. Coffman (CO) supports phasing it out, Franks (AZ) is probably “No,” and Smith (TX) is leaning toward “No.”

The only House TPCMs who support this government spending are King (IA) and Bartlett (MD). The following said it depends on the exact bill and were unwilling to take a philosophical stand on the issue—and therefore should receive pressure: Akin (MO), Alexander (LA), Carter (TX), Cassidy (LA), Coble (NC). Every other House TPCM was undecided or unavailable.

After the Senators get back from recess, there will be a full Senate vote on the bill—which will likely go through several revisions before a vote.

Remember, back in June 2009, the Democratically-controlled House passed the cap and trade bill? It did not make it to a vote before the Democratically-controlled Senate members left for their summer break. That summer two things happened: the Tea Party and townhall meetings. The newly energized Tea Party types showed up at the “townhalls.” Senators got an earful. When they want back to DC in September, cap and trade was dead—a great victory

This summer, Tea Party types, once again, need to give their Senators an earful—especially the Republican Senators like Grassley (IA), Hatch (UT), Crapo (ID), Snowe (ME), Thune (SD), and Roberts (KS) who voted for the “extender bill” and TPCM Moran (KS) who will, if it makes it to a floor vote.

The “right” thinking Senators of both parties must know that we have to stop this excessive bleeding of fiscal spending while we still have a chance to stop the slide toward Spain—whose green energy policies have helped push them toward bankruptcy. If they don’t “know,” we, and their TPCM colleagues, can help them.

This article was submitted by the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon, who serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.


 

Fowling Opponents of Free Speech

Posted on 06. Aug, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics, Social/Cultural

Who would have thought that a few comments on traditional marriage by a usually quiet COO would have lit the fuse on a feud between proponents and opponents of homosexual marriage and between free-speechers and limited speechers?

And who would have thought that this battle would be waged on the politically non-partisan floors of fast food restaurants around the USA?

In case you’ve been deep-sea diving in Fiji or backpacking up the Blue Mountains of Australia and haven’t been near a TV, the family-owned Chick fil-A company has become the new ground zero for American free speech.

After expressing his opinion on preserving traditional marriage, complete with a few bible references, COO Dan Cathy unleashed what might be the first salvo in a new economic range war pitting the American public against its own businesses!

If this were not so potentially dangerous for an already fragile economy (think of millions of consumers protesting in front of businesses intimidating customers or organized boycotts that could bankrupt companies) it would be comical, but it’s not.

While many are classifying this as a free speech issue – the right of a business owner to speak his mind – it may actually be the next logical step following the Citizens United case that redefines corporations as individuals.

The Citizens United case was adjudicated in the Supreme Court in 2010. The Court ruled that corporations had the right to exercise their free speech under the First Amendment on a par with individuals when it came to making political contributions.

In a recent ruling in June, the Court refused a request to revisit the initial ruling, saying: “Political speech does not lose First Amendment protection simply because its source is a corporation.”  Political speech or politically correct speech does not come without risk, however.

For businesses, this may be a further redefinition of their status and it could get a bit uncomfortable if people really start focusing on businesses as people.

Think about this way. It’s a little like a man giving up his bachelor status when he gets married. There are certain advantages, but certain disadvantages, too. No more Wednesday nights with the guys hanging around Hooters. No more drying your clothes in the microwave. No more expletives filling the air, either, especially when the in-laws are visiting.

Like our bachelor friend, corporations can’t have it both ways. If the CEOs, COOs, CFOs or anybody in positions of corporate power want to spout off on social issues, they have to be ready to reap the whirlwind and pay the price for it. That’s the double edged sword of free speech, but to deny them their right to do so is unacceptable and illegal.

The mayors of Chicago, Boston and Washington, DC might want to read their job descriptions more carefully. I doubt if their mayoral rights include creating a single overarching value system for their cities. That’s what their constituents do, individually.

If mayors get into the moralizing business, they may find fewer companies beating their way to their borders, and if they choose to go that route, they, too, must pay the price for THEIR free speech with dwindling tax bases and fewer jobs for the people who voted them into office!

As for Chick fil-A, I drove to their restaurant on San Mateo at Montgomery the other day (the same day of the proposed kiss-out or kiss-off) only to find the place mobbed with ordinary folks chowing down on delicious chicken sandwiches.

I looked everywhere for kissing couples but without success. All I saw was a successful company doing a land office business with order takers going from car to car in the drive in lane smiling and having a good time enjoying their 15 minutes of fame.

I’m sure that if Finger lickin’ good Colonel Sanders and Frank it takes a tough man to make a tender chicken Perdue were alive today they would have been dancing the chicken polka in the parking lot, excited to see so many people supporting free speech while downing heaping portions of the food that made them both famous.

It’s amazing what a little free speech and few chicken nuggets will do to soothe the savage beast in all of us.

- Editor

Even the EPA is right now and then!

Posted on 06. Aug, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

“Even a broken clock is right twice a day” is an adage we’ve all heard dozens of times. Today, it applies to the EPA as even it gets things right now and then.

The EPA is well known for its attacks on virtually every kind of industry that might result in economic development—hitting the energy sector particularly hard. Despite the agency’s best efforts, it has not been able to match up the science with its desired claims of water contamination from natural gas extraction using hydraulic fracturing—which has been in use in America for more than 60 years.

In early December 2011, the New York Times ran a story declaring: “Chemicals used to hydraulically fracture rocks in drilling for natural gas in a remote valley in central Wyoming are the likely cause of contaminated local water supplies.” Environmental groups jumped all over the announcement.

Amy Mall, a fracking opponent with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the report “underscores the urgent need to get federal rules and safeguards on the books to help protect all Americans from the dangers of fracking.” An NPR story on the EPA’s draft study released on December 8, 2011, stated: “The gas industry and other experts have long contended that fracking doesn’t contaminate drinking water. The EPA’s findings provide the first official confirmation to the contrary.”

However, just three months later, on March 8, it was announced that the EPA had to backtrack as frequent attacks forced the agency to acknowledge that it had rushed to judgment. The chemicals supposedly found in the drinking water of Pavilion, Wyoming, were chemicals that could have come from a variety of sources—including the plastic piping.

The EPA released the data and findings outside of the purview of two “working groups” made up of state and EPA officials, which had been examining the Pavillion pollution for the better part of a year. Following accusations that the EPA rushed the release of the report without peer review, the EPA backed down and agreed to retest. Now, the EPA and Wyoming, as well as U.S. Geological Survey and two American Indian tribes, are working together on further study of the Pavillion groundwater.

On April 1, a lawsuit the EPA had filed earlier this year against a Texas energy company, Range Resources, accusing it of contaminating water through hydraulic fracturing, was quietly dropped.

Barry Smitherman, Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, the agency that oversees oil and gas development, responded: “By dropping their court case and enforcement actions, EPA now acknowledges what we at the Railroad Commission have known for more than a year: Range Resources’ Parker County gas wells did not contaminate groundwater. This announcement is a vindication of the science-based processes at the Railroad Commission.”

On April 7, 2011, the EPA released test results for Dimock, Pennsylvania, that “did not show levels of contaminants that would give EPA reason to take immediate action.” Despite the EPA’s test results, Water Defense executive director Claire Sandberg claimed that the “EPA’s test results continue to show what Dimock residents have claimed for years: the water is contaminated.”

Dimock became the “symbol of possible threats to water from hydraulic fracturing” through the anti-fracking movie Gasland. While testing was being done, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., the company drilling in the area, had, beginning in 2009, been providing families with fresh water, installed water filters, and offered to pay each affected family twice the value of their home.

According to Bloomberg, “The Houston-based company set aside $4.1 million to pay claims stemming from residents’ complaints.” After its testing found the water to be safe and state regulators agreed, Cabot discontinued the fresh water deliveries late last year. However, the EPA stepped in and continued delivering water.

A few days ago, “after months of back-and-forth wrangling,” the EPA finally cleared Dimock’s water and announced it would discontinue the water deliveries saying that it has “no further plans to conduct additional drinking water sampling in Dimock.” The EPA acknowledged that the substances found in the water were “naturally occurring.”

Thursday’s announcement was a victory for proponents of oil and gas drilling, the economic development that comes with it, and the energy independence it gives to America.

Cabot company spokesman George Stark emphasized: “Cabot’s operations in Dimock have led to significant economic growth in the area, marked by a collaborative relationship with the local community.”

One oil and gas official heralded the decision, but called the EPA’s approach part of a “pattern of overreaching, aimed at undercutting job-creating American energy development.”

While the decision, as Marcellus Shale Coalition president Kathryn Klaber stated, provides “closure to the situation,” self-described “fracktivists” gathered on Saturday in Washington D.C. for a “Stop the Frack Attack” rally—billed as the first-ever national protest to stop hydraulic fracturing.

Despite their claim that thousands of people would descend on the west lawn of the Capitol building, live video of the event showed that, perhaps, the EPA’s decision took some of the wind out of their sails as a sparse crowd listened to speakers spread fear over “dirty water” and rising global temperatures.

The EPA has had to retreat in these three widely-publicized cases: Wyoming/Encana, Texas/Range Resources, and now, Pennsylvania/Cabot Oil and Gas. What remains to be seen is how the decisions will impact America’s job-creating domestic energy development.

Will our energy policy be dominated by the emotion and ideology of “fracktivists” carrying signs such as those seen at the “Stop the Frack Attack” rally: “Stop feeding us bull**** and making us drink gas” or will it be determined by facts and sound science?

Thousands of jobs and billions in economic development are waiting in states such as New York, Ohio, Colorado, and Kentucky—and others with new resource discovery. Supporters of America’s job-creating domestic energy development don’t want to eliminate all regulations, but they need to be reasonable—encouraging responsible resource extraction, not so strident that they stifle progress and kill jobs.

The Dimock decision proves that the efforts of the “fracktivists” are more about a political anti-energy agenda than doing what is best for America.

This article was submitted by the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon, who serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.


Why did the DOE take “excessive risk” in giving $2.8 billion to a Spanish solar firm?

Posted on 05. Aug, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

We are about to close with the final two installments of this Special Seven series––the renewable energy (mainly solar) firms that not only received billions in Department of Energy (DOE) loans and federal grants, but those that received “preferential treatment” from the Department of Interior to lease federal land in a no-bid process, meaning that they were approved without “adequate vetting.”

Whereas the review process for establishing an oil and gas lease on federal land can take up to five years, some of these favored green-energy projects were pushed through in less than a year.

Our first five chapters on Solar Reserve, BrightSource Energy, Nevada Geothermal, Ormat Nevada (the two Nevada companies were featured in one report), and First Solar; revealed a convoluted and tangled trail of political ties in each of these green-energy crony-corruption cases.

This chapter looks at the Spanish company Abengoa that received more than $2.8 billion in loans and grants—making them the second largest recipient of the $16 billion doled out through the DOE 1705 loan guarantee program.

From the introduction of this serialized book, the thumbnail says: Abengoa has two solar projects: Solana and Mojave Solar.

Solana’s Fitch rating is BB+. Just before Christmas, 2010, the company received $1.45 billion from the DOE for a solar thermal plant, to use parabolic trough technology in Gila Bend, AZ. Mojave Solar’s rating was BB. Yet the company received $1.2 billion in September 2011 for its solar assembly collection project in San Bernardino County, CA. Abengoa has connections to California’s Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein.

In addition to the two solar projects listed above, Abengoa also has a biofuel project located in Kansas, which Fitch rated CCC, that got a $132.4 million loan in August 2010.

As a report on Abengoa from the Institute for Energy Research says: “It’s true, a loan guarantee is not the same thing as an explicit subsidy. So long as Abengoa Solar doesn’t default on its loans, the US taxpayer hasn’t kicked in anything.

Nonetheless, the whole reason Abengoa Solar had to get the guarantee from the government is that no private lender thought the risk was worth it. It is not ‘costless’ for the US taxpayer to be on the hook in this fashion.”

So how did such a poorly rated, non-American company get billions in US taxpayer loan guarantees? Can you say “crony corruption?” In short, Abengoa has a cadre of cronies in high places which includes Al Gore, former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and, of course, President Obama—plus, many others whose names you’ve probably never heard of.

Friends in high places

In 2007, Gore’s UK-based Generation Investment Management (GIM) bought a stake in Abengoa. He has extolled Abengoa for years, visiting “the largest solar platform in Europe” (operated by Abengoa) in October 2008 and delivering a high-powered speech at the company’s Spanish headquarters in October 2010.

GIM Advisory Board Member Mario Molino also serves on Abengoa’s Advisory Committee. GIM was started in 2004 by Al Gore and several Goldman Sachs’ big wigs, including David Blood, Mark Ferguson, and Peter Harris. (Note: Goldman Sachs was a top Obama donor in 2008.)

Bill Richardson is who got me chasing this whole green-energy crony-corruption scandal in the first place as my column addressing his crony capitalism is how I got connected with Christine Lakatos—who’s been researching this for years.

Here in the middle of the Abengoa story is my former governor! Richardson has long been a supporter of solar energy, giving now-defunct Schott Solar $16 million in New Mexican state funds—so it is appropriate that he be involved here, too.

Under President Clinton, Richardson served as the Secretary of Energy—leading the DOE—for three years. President Obama tapped Richardson to be his Secretary of Commerce but personal scandals kept him from passing the vetting—he withdrew his nomination. (Remember, John Bryson—former CEO of BrightSource—did become Secretary of Commerce.)

With this vast résumé, Abengoa CEO Manuel Sanchez Ortega, felt that Abengoa was “extremely fortunate” to have Richardson’s “extensive knowledge of the renewable energy sector and his background in public policy” join Abengoa’s Advisory Board in March of 2011—which is reportedly a paid position. Richardson’s policies while Governor benefitted Abengoa. One of Abengoa’s DOE loans came through after Richardson joined the Advisory Board.

My introduction teased California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s involvement in Abengoa. Admittedly, direct connections are minor: she wrote a letter to the DOI on behalf of Abengoa asking the DOI to speed up the permitting process for accessing private land for DOE loan guarantees.

One of the projects is in California, so advocating for it would seem reasonable. However, her husband, Richard Blum, is Chairman and President of Blum Capital, an equity investment management firm with investments in bio-fuel companies and Abengoa has a bio-fuel company—though, so far, no Blum investments in Abengoa Bioenergy Biomass of Kansas, LLC have been found.

Feinstein has been accused of arranging to have the US Navy buy bio fuels from her husband, so a connection to Abengoa would not be unexpected.

Feinstein is no stranger to conflict of interest and PG & E may be the bigger player in this story, as they are one of her largest campaign donors (2010 & 2012), and they have a contract to buy California’s required renewable energy from Abengoa—along with five other projects that got DOE loans.

One last Feinstein/Abengoa link: Fred Morse—Senior Advisor of US Operations for Abengoa. Dr. Morse, who interestingly was a member of the New Mexico CSP Task Force, donated $1000 to Feinstein.

Lobbyists

Fred Morse provides a perfect transition to the lobbyists and their connections, as Morse is a lobbyist for Abengoa with DOE roots.

Morse was Executive Director of the White House Assessment of Solar Energy as a National Resource, serving in the Nixon, Carter, and Regan administrations and is thought of as Abengoa’s most credentialed conduit to policymakers. He currently sits on the board of various solar industry groups.

While Morse may be the “most credentialed conduit,” he is not the most interesting story. The “most-interesting” moniker would have to go to either Mark Rokala or Santiago Seage—you decide.

Before joining Abengoa, Seage was a partner with McKinsey & Company (another 2008 Obama donor)—where Jonathan Silver, the former executive director of the Energy Department’s loan guarantee program, started his career and Matt Rogers, a former senior adviser on the Recovery Act, was an executive.

When Rogers left the DOE in September 2010, he returned to McKinsey & Company at their San Francisco office.  A handful of McKinsey & Company executives sit on Obama’s Jobs Council. Making the connections more provocative, we find that Silver held parties for Gore.

Abengoa’s lobbying efforts are headed up by Mark Rokala, a founding member of Cornerstone Government Affairs—which has received $870,000 from Abengoa in lobbying fees. Rokala came to Cornerstone from the PMA Group, which was shuttered in 2008 following a pay-to-play scandal—in which late Democratic Rep. John Murtha directed $137 million in government contracts to PMA clients, which in turn donated $2.37 million to Murtha and other Democratic congressmen who sat on the appropriations committee.

PMA’s president, Paul Magliocchetto, is serving a 27-month federal sentence for illegal campaign contributions. Rokala has been a lobbyist for more than 20 years, the last seven in energy policy, and has served as legislative assistant for a Democrat senator.

Abengoa spent $540,000 on lobbying efforts for just 2011, with $160,000 going to Cornerstone Government Affairs.

Jobs

More than $80 billion was earmarked for green energy in the 2009 stimulus package—which was sold to the American people as a means to stimulate the economy and create jobs. So, what kind of bang for our buck did we get from the $2.8 billion we gave to Abengoa?

The Institute for Energy Research reports “the DOE’s own fact sheet claims that the Solana project has created 1,700 temporary construction jobs, while yielding a permanent 60 jobs ‘created or saved.’ Simple division shows that the $1.45 billion guarantee therefore works out to $824,000 per job (when we include the temporary construction ones), and a whopping $24.2 million per permanent job ‘created or saved.’

The numbers are similar for the more recent Mojave Solar project. For a guarantee of $1.2 billion, the DOE estimates it will create 830 temporary construction jobs, and will ‘create or save’ 70 permanent jobs. This works out to $1.33 million per job (including temporary ones), and $17.1 million per permanent job.”

The report from the March 20, 2012, hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee looking into the green-energy, crony-corruption debacle says this about the loans to Abengoa: “A single Spanish firm, Abengoa…reveals excessive risk. … making this concentration of investment in one  company  speculative and highly questionable.”

What is truly questionable is why did the DOE take “excessive risk” in giving $2.8 billion to a Spanish firm? The answer is friends in high places. Abengoa got a good return for its investment. They spent hundreds of thousands in lobbying fees, hired some big guns like former Governor Bill Richardson, and made friends with the likes of Al Gore—and what do they get in return? $2.8 billion in American taxpayer dollars.

What have your friends done for you lately?

Author’s note: Thanks to Christine Lakatos, the Green Corruption blogger, for research assistance.

This article was submitted by the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon, who serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.

Send your problems on vacation

Posted on 05. Aug, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Social/Cultural

America is bleeding from serious economic wounds. Millions have no jobs and no prospects for finding one.

Many homes are under water and credit is maxed out. Families are cutting back and consumer spending is flat or headed south while our most productive companies are sitting on the sidelines and hoarding their cash, waiting to see what happens in the presidential election.

But worst of all, we’ve lost confidence in ourselves and have come to believe that goodness is as extinct as the Dodo Bird.

The good news news stories seem nowhere to be found, so it’s no surprise that there’s a heavy cloud of negativism hanging above us all, so heavy that it’s nearly impossible to see the tiniest sliver of a silver lining.

Last week, I had to pick up a passenger at the airport. Before taking the escalator up to the arrivals area, I passed a diorama with some locally-produced art, and since I was there early I decided to check it out.

Some of the pieces were whimsical and made me smile and also made me realize that there are still people out there who do something other than rail against politics and politicians!

Alone in my thoughts, I rode the escalator to the arrivals hall where hundreds of disembarked passengers were scurrying past me on their way to collect their luggage at the baggage claim below.

A few more steps past the restaurant and gift shops and my gaze narrowed as I searched the faces of the travelers moving at different speeds all around me.

Amid the clatter of luggage wheels I heard the gleeful laughter of children and saw people of all ages and backgrounds: men dressed in ranchers’ garb, teenagers in fashionably torn blue jeans and everything in between.

This was not the concentrated mass of humanity that characterizes mega-airports like Hartsfield, Kennedy or O’Hare. This was my airport where the tempo is slower and more personal and where the scenes of everyday life are played out at a pace that would make a New Yorker think he was living in a slow motion movie.

Then it hit me. I was thoroughly caught up in watching people connect with their loved ones as they ran, skipped or walked into each other’s embrace, planting wet kisses on cheeks and lips and even on bald heads!

Something wonderful happens when people let their guard down and this goes double for those times when they welcome a loved one home. All of us have seen the tearful reunions of servicemen and women as they burst through the arrival doors and explode with emotion as they catch a glimpse of their families after a long dangerous tour overseas.

I confess to lingering at the sidelines watching these human dramas play out. It took my mind off the mindless political advertising that was showing on TV monitors, creating what was easily the most bizarre contradiction of my week.

For those of us who are at our breaking point from all the ridiculousness of the political campaigns and are just about ready to take what Eskimos call, the long walk (a one-way trip on the ice floes), stop.

Instead, pack a lunch. Fire up the jalopy and drive to the airport and head up to the arrivals hall. Send your cares and woes on an extended vacation by watching real humanity in action. Then go home and hug your spouse or children or even your dog or cat like they’ve been away for a year. If that doesn’t change your outlook, nothing will.

- Editor

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