Picking losers

From National Review:

SunEdison, which billed itself as the “largest global renewable energy development company,” is on the verge of bankruptcy after sucking up $650 million in federal grants and tax credits and $846 million in federal loans, loan guarantees, tax-exempt federal bonds, and federal insurance.

Also in April, Spanish energy company Abengoa SA filed for bankruptcy in Delaware, having disappeared $2.6 billion in federal loans and loan guarantees, as well as $986 million in federal grants and tax credits.

That adds up to about $5 billion taxpayer dollars, 70% of it to a foreign company.

Maybe MIT Technology Review should revisit its story on the limits of “clean coal” for balance.


Since I posted Headline at MIT Technology Review: (April 15, just below), it has been nagging at the back of my mind that “clean coal” projects probably were not exempt from the crony capitalist excesses of the eco-industrial complex. So there was likely more to the Peabody Energy bankruptcy story than simply deploring all the failed wind/solar/battery #Greenfail projects we’ve funded. I had some time this morning to check.

Turns out, the Feds spent $2.5 billion between 1978 and 2008 on “clean coal.”

In 2002, the Bush administration picked up the baton and allocated almost $2 billion (of which $200 million was actually spent) over 10 years to the idea. They killed it in 2008.

It was revived in the Obama administration’s 2009 stimulus package before being killed again in 2015.

So, “clean coal,” even though industry had to pay 50% of project costs, is another example of the government promoting failed environmental projects. In this case, deciding to go the additional mile to make sure the entire coal industry disappears.

All that money could have resulted in quite a bit of carbon-emissionless nuclear power, and it would have been financed entirely by industry – if they’d been allowed to.

Headline at MIT Technology Review:

Peabody Energy’s Bankruptcy Shows the Limits of “Clean Coal”

I’m not sure what MIT’s point is here. Peabody’s bankruptcy is the result of unlimited political manipulation. It was the intended result of Federal planning:

So if somebody wants to build a coal power plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.
– Barack Obama, January 2008

The real issue is eco-corporatism, not “clean coal,” so it’s worth looking at other energy company bankruptcies that didn’t follow the Fed’s political script.

Solyndra’s bankruptcy was not the government approved plan.

Barack Obama visited Solyndra’s facility on May 25, 2010. Solyndra filed for bankruptcy in September 2011.

On whether he he regretted holding up Solyndra as a model for jobs and clean energy: “No, I don’t, because if you look at the overall portfolio of loan guarantees that have been provided, overall it’s doing well.

And what we always understood was that not every single business is going to succeed in clean energy, but if we want to compete with China, which is pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into this space, if we want to compete with other countries that are heavily subsidizing the industries of the future, we’ve got to make sure that our guys here in the United States of America at least have a shot…

For A123, if the plan was to compete with China, the result was exactly the opposite:

What we want to do is to have energy independence in America, and have control over our own ability to be free of Middle Eastern oil. That means that we want to manufacture the cells and do the assembly, and do the R&D all here in Michigan.
– Jennifer Granholm, January 2009

(While Governor Granholm was fertilizing A123’s bankruptcy seeds, the frackers were actually doing something about our dependence on foreign oil. In spite of government interference.)

This is about the birth of an entire new industry in America — an industry that’s going to be central to the next generation of cars…
– Barack Obama, September 2010, during an event celebrating the opening of the A123 plant in Livonia

A123 was sold to the Chinese at bankruptcy prices. So we heavily subsidized the R&D on behalf of the Chinese.

In sum:

  • Peabody Energy was bankrupted by an administratively engineered avalanche of absurd and unconstitutional Federal regulations.
  • A123 went bankrupt despite $100 million in Michigan tax credits and $255 million in Federal grants.
  • Solyndra failed despite a $536 million Federal loan guarantee and a $25.1 million California tax break.

Yes, MIT, there are limits. So, consider these headlines for a future story:

A123’s Bankruptcy Shows the Limits of Advanced Battery Manufacturing

Solyndra’s Bankruptcy Shows the Limits of Thin Film Solar Cells

Or maybe: Green Bankruptcies Show the Limits of Winner Picking Corporatism

Every breath you take

Gov wants bars to stay open till 4 a.m.

Well, there’s a catch…

The plan involves liquor stores and restaurants selling spirits on Sunday mornings and bar owners buying permits for their establishments to stay open until 4 a.m. The expanded hours for liquor sales would generate an estimated $13.7 million for the state’s general fund, the pot over which the governor and lawmakers have spending discretion. Additional revenue would come from the sale of the special permits priced at $1,500 each.

Emphasis mine. Apparently, we are all going to drink more if just given enough time and opportunity. This is not unlike funding children’s health care from tobacco taxes. The $14 million tax increase calculation probably doesn’t even include the increased fine collection for DUI, and I know I’m going to get up at 7AM on many Sundays just to exercise my freedom to purchase that bottle of Jack Daniel’s I didn’t realize I’d need for breakfast by 4AM the previous Saturday same day.

Our Governor wants to rescind blue laws in order to increase State revenue. This is how we get more “choice.” Put more directly, she’s saying, “I will rescind a law preventing grocery store liquor sales on Sunday mornings and we’ll let bars stay open 2 more hours. We’ll only charge the operators $1,500 annually for our forbearance.” The Governor owes thanks to our puritanical forebears for this opportunity. They deserve an apology from her for every explicit and implicit criticism she’s uttered.

This idea of charging people to exempt them from 19th Century liquor laws is a principle the Dems can vastly expand. Imagine this LSJ headline:

Cherry: Plans to license fornication on odd numbered days making progress.

Lansing Jan. 25, 2010
Special to the State Journal

Legislators’ differences over proposals for flat annual fees vs. per use charges (to be assessed via a toll-free number and/or website at the soon to be created Department of Non-judgmental Public Morals Enforcement and Condom Distribution) are the main remaining stumbling block in passage of the “Odd-Day Pay-to-Play” bill. Progress was made when the Democrats agreed to abandon surcharges based on number of orgasms. Republicans, in turn, gave up their insistence that fines for unauthorized fornication under the age of consent attract doubled fines.

Sliding rates (to be based on mutual degree of satisfaction), an earlier source of much legislative rancor when a dozen votes split along strict gender lines, have been put aside for later consideration when orgasmometer technology has been made sufficiently portable and implantable.

Back to our present reality: Governor Granholm has also been busy usurping legislative power in order to promote her most recent pet environmental boondoggle reduce CO2 emissions. Her recent executive order threatens, for one example, a $2.3 billion private investment in the same state-of-the-art clean coal technology Joe Biden and Barack Obama want to sell to China. Along with the investment go 1,800 local construction jobs. Call them “unsourced.”

Governor Quixote currently tilts into windmills, having recently choked on surplus slaked her thirst for ethanol. Windmills on every free square foot of the state are just the thing to employ tens of thousands at subsistence wages, if unsubsidized. We’ll also need huge warehouses for the batteries needed to store electricity for times when the wind doesn’t blow.

Cox: Granholm went too far with coal plants order

Gov. Jennifer Granholm exceeded her authority by creating new legal requirements for building coal-fired power plants, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said Friday. Granholm’s office said Cox had “misread both state and federal law.”

“Governors can sign bills into law, but they cannot write them,” he said in a statement. “That is the Legislature’s job.”

“The governor disagrees with the opinion,” Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd said. “As a former attorney general, the governor believes (Cox) has misread both state and federal law. The state will be asking for a clarification from the federal Environmental Protection Agency.”

Gov. Q is likely to get an opinion supporting her efforts to cripple electricity production and kill private investment: Obama appointee Carol Browner is about to have carbon dioxide declared a pollutant. Hold your breath. Really.

EPA to Issue Carbon Dioxide Rule, Obama Climate Czar Says

Officially recognizing that carbon dioxide is a danger to the public sets would trigger regulation of the greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants, refineries, chemical plants, cement firms, vehicles and any other emitting sectors across the economy.

Finally, to bring this all together, don’t forget you breathe harder when you are making love. So, in Michigan, federal CO2 taxes will be on top of the taxes from the Odd Numbered Fornication Days Regularization and Prevented Children Health Act of 2010.

Tax credits for trees in your yard will be added to the tax code based on number, age and species of tree divided by the reciprocal of your personal carbon footprint as calculated under the federal Paperwork Reduction, Simplification, Normalization, Streamlining, De-obfuscation and Green Accountancy Relief Act of 2011. A 10% additional deduction will be available for those who really “hug” their trees. Yardless community organizers will be eligible for “virtual tree” credits through AlGore’s carbon indulgences agencies and the UN IPCC.