Department of Energy Goes Chicago

Two articles today provide an interesting juxtaposition.

First, Chicago is deemed most corrupt city in America

A former Chicago alderman turned political science professor/corruption fighter has found that Chicago is the most corrupt city in the country.

He cites data from the U.S. Department of Justice to prove his case. And, he says, Illinois is third-most corrupt state in the country.

University of Illinois at Chicago professor Dick Simpson, who served as alderman of the 44th Ward in Lakeview from 1971 to 1979, estimates the cost of corruption at $500 million.

Second, the Washington Post has a story on venture capital insiders at DOE funding projects in which their VC firms had investments.

During the next three years, the department provided $2.4 billion in public funding to clean-energy companies in which Wagle’s former firm, Vantage Point Venture Partners, had invested, a Washington Post analysis found. Overall, the Post found that $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 is as though Obama took the Chicago business plan and went national with it.

We need to put a price on rent seeking

In case anybody forgot that the Lieberman-Warner, Waxman-Markey, and Boxer-Kerry cap-and-trade bills were special-interest feeding frenzies masquerading as climate policy, we get this refreshing reminder from Mayo Shattuck:

Mayo Shattuck, president and CEO of Baltimore-based Constellation Energy, says more needs to be done spur investors to back nuclear energy expansion, such as setting a price for carbon or mandating a renewable energy standard.

“A clean energy standard is something that we’d very much like to see explored,”

Here we have another selfless business executive willing to put the environment above profits.

Ha, ha, ha.  Hey, everybody likes a good joke.

Shattuck oversees a largely merchant-generation company that is tilted heavily toward natural gas, nuclear and renewable power, with just 23 percent of its generation from coal.

In other words, a clean energy standard, carbon tax, and cap-and-trade will raise Constellation’s generating costs less than they would for the average power company.

Unlike a regulated utility, a merchant-generating company has to compete on price.  Lowering your own costs can be hard, so why not raise the cost of your competitors with a carbon-pricing scam?

I guess you can’t blame them for trying.


Germany goes coaler

Unable, as is everyone, to turn up the output from their solar cells, Germany falls back on good ol’ reliable coal when things get cold.

Germany has been forced to call upon its reserves for producing electricity for the second time this winter as Europe is gripped by a severe cold snap, officials said on Thursday.

The country’s four main power operators requested the reserve generator at a coal-powered plant in southern Germany and two plants in Austria be activated, the regional environment ministry in the southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg said.

They may also want to rethink shuttering their nuclear plants.

Darn it!

Don’t sell your overcoat.  Here is yet another piece of evidence that we will have to wait even longer to get the warming Al Gore, Jim Hansen, et al. promised–the glaciers are melting more slowly than previously thought.

While vast quantities of ice melting into the ocean is not exactly good news, Wahr says, according to his team’s estimates, about 30 percent less ice is melting than previously thought.

And sea-levels are rising at a rate of 6 inches (not meters, not feet) per century, which is below the lowest projected rate of increase from the IPCC.

Ocean levels worldwide are rising about six hundredths of an inch per year, according to researcher John Wahr.


Fracking=Cheap Gas=Manufacturing Jobs

In his state of the union speech, President Obama took credit for an increase in manufacturing employment:

 American manufacturers are hiring again, creating jobs for the first time since the late 1990s.

A recent story in the Wall Street Journal credits instead the energy boom brought on by hydraulic fracturing technology.

An energy boom is revving up the U.S. economy. The use of new drilling techniques to tap oil and gas in shale rocks far underground helped add about 158,500 new oil and gas jobs over the past five years, and economists think it has created even more jobs in companies supplying the energy industry and in the broader service industry. U.S. oil production is rising for the first time in decades. Natural gas has become so plentiful that prices recently plunged to a 10-year low.


Manufacturing plants are returning to the U.S. to take advantage of cheap natural gas, spurring major investments in petrochemical and steel production in the Gulf Coast and Midwest.


In a bizarre twist on reality, Obama also gave government credit for developing this technology.  In any event his administration is anything but friendly towards hydraulic fracturing.

Hmm… market-driven energy production from private land is also driving manufacturing employment increases.  So, what’s an anti-market president to do?  Take undue credit for both the energy and manufacturing booms, and then try to kill them with more regulation.

Greenpeace opposed to scientific elite


“The stakes are very high and scientists are not the best people to deal with the social, ethical or political issues that geoengineering raises,” said Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace. “The idea that a self-selected group should have so much influence is bizarre.”

Thought he was talking about the IPCC or Jim Hansen or the University of East Anglia.  Maybe it only applies to scientists working on geoengineering and not to climate scientists.

Renewable energy depends on finite resource: Suckers

Smacked upside the head with reality, Spain, cut unafordable subsidies for renewable energy.

Spain halted subsidies for renewable energy projects to help curb its budget deficit and rein in power-system borrowings backed by the state that reached 24 billion euros ($31 billion) at the end of 2011.

“What is today an energy problem could become a financial problem,” Industry Minister Jose Manuel Soria said in Madrid. The government passed a decree today stopping subsidies for new wind, solar, co-generation or waste incineration plants.

For more see: 

The U.S. and Germany blow the cover on the green-stimulus fraud:

Two of the world’s largest clean energy markets, Germany and the US, were at the centre of concerns last week about the outlook for investment in renewable power.

In the US, the wind turbine industry sounded its loudest warnings yet that installation of new wind farms will collapse in 2013 if a key support measure, the Production Tax Credit, is allowed to expire as scheduled at the end of this year.

In Germany, the government shook the solar industry by saying that it would make more rapid adjustments to tariffs for PV – revising them every month – and phase out subsidy support for that technology altogether by 2017.

For more see: 

So, when they run out of suckers to pay the subsidies, the renewable-energy industry hits its own limits to growth.