Al Gore, Mr. Green, is sure rolling in the green now. Selling his “Current TV” for $500 Million to Al Jazeera TV and its owners who are major players in the oil and natural gas industry (you know, the ones that are causing global warming!!!). Maybe now that he has that kind of dough, he will stop trying to sell carbon credits out of thin air. I’m not holding my breath.
- Oil Funded Al Jazeera Makes Al Gore Richer Than Mitt Romney (townhall.com)
When the paramilitaries of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) arrived in San Onofre in northern Colombia in the late 1990s, they came after dark, dragging people from their homes and disappearing into the night.
Soon, they did not need the cover of darkness. People were executed in public plazas in broad daylight. Women and young girls were openly raped and abused.
Since the demobilisation of the local AUC bloc in 2005, 42 mass graves have been discovered in the municipality. Locals say about 3000 people disappeared ands tens of thousands fled their homes and abandoned their land to escape what one survivor called a region of “concentration camps”.
Seven years on from the AUC demobilisation, San Onofre is now the site of thousands of hectares of teak trees belonging to one of Colombia’s five biggest companies, Argos S.A.
In February last year, Argos’ commercial monocrop plantation was approved for the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) carbon trading scheme. This means it can sell carbon credits to industrialised countries trying to meet Kyoto Protocol emission reduction targets.
The company says the plantation will capture 37,000 tones of CO2 a year for 25 years – worth about $12.5 million in the current carbon market. It also plans to use another teak plantation in the nearby municipalities of El Carmen and Ovejas for the CDM.
Argos claims the teak plantation is helping fight climate change and contributing to the sustainable development of a conflict scarred region, but the project has proved controversial.
Survivors from the paramilitary era and land restitution campaigners claim the plantation and its CDM status is not only an attempt to cash in on the lucrative carbon credits market, but also legitimise a mass land grab that followed paramilitary violence, and prevent land restitution to a displaced population.
The municipalities of San Onofre, El Carmen and Ovejas are in the Caribbean region Montes de Maria. A heavy guerilla presence in the area led to the creation of AUC bloc, the “Heroes of Montes de Maria” in 1997. The paramilitaries soon gained complete social and economic control of the region by murdering, torturing and displacing local farmers with the support of local state security forces.
Between 1995 and 2005, 54 massacres were reported in the three municipalities of San Onofre, Ovejas and El Carmen and, says government agency Accion Social, 117,097 people have been displaced there since the paramilitaries first arrived.
The AUC era ended with demobilisation in 2005. However, in 2008 El Espectacor reported a new invasion, of “strange personalities” in bulletproof Hummers.
A land grab ensued, in which desperate, indebted or frightened people were pressured into selling property. Abandoned land was snapped up by speculators.
Next came big business. What had previously been an area of smallholder and subsistence farming rapidly became dominated by large-scale agro-industrial enterprises ― dairy, timber, African palm and teak.
As the land became more concentrated in fewer hands, the landscape of Montes de Maria began to change. Most of Montes de Maria is now owned by just a handful of large businesses, among them Argos, which owns an estimated 12,500 hectares.
Argos claims it bought its land in San Onofre directly from the owners in 2005, after the paramilitaries had left. However, the CDM validation report indicates it first bought land in 2003 and continued to do so until 2008.
Camilo Abello, the vice-president of corporate affairs at Argos, claims the company entered “a completely peaceful zone. The Argos representative who made the purchases was able to go into the zone because there were no paramilitaries, there was no violence.”
“Juan Carlos”, a San Onofre local whose family sold their land to Argos, disagrees.
Juan Carlos’ family owned land close to the El Palmar ranch, headquarters of the infamous local AUC leader known as “Cadena” and site of a mass grave containing 72 tortured and mutilated bodies.
“We had to sell the land because we were in an unbearable situation,” he said, “Our lives were in danger.”
Juan Carlos said his family had to ask Cadena permission to sell to Argos. He said that although he knew of no formal contact between the AUC and Argos, paramilitaries visited the farm while the Argos representative was measuring the land.
Government statistics show that nearly 2000 people were forcibly displaced in San Onofre in 2005, more than in the previous two years. More than 1000 people were also displaced in 2006 and again in 2007.
Murder and displacement rates have dropped sharply since, but government risk reports on San Onofre show a renewed and growing paramilitary presence in the area.
In El Carmen de Bolivar and Ovejas, Argos bought land from the speculators who flooded the region in the wake of the paramilitaries.
One of the main sources was a group of powerful businesspeople and ranchers called the Amigos de Montes de Maria. Locals say they pressured campesinos into selling their land and evicted families from land bought for agro-industrial projects.
Testimonies collected for two NGO reports said that in at least one case Argos bought land acquired by Amigos de Montes de Maria from demobilised AUC members who had displaced its owners.
Residents also report how one alleged demobilised AUC member, Silvio Flores, went to work for the company after it bought the land he managed on behalf of a member of the group. Locals claim Flores then began pressuring other campesinos to sell; abusing and threatening them, killing their animals and burning down houses.
In the report, residents of Ovejas also describe being threatened by heavily armed camouflaged men who claimed to be the company’s security.
Argos denies any involvement in pressuring people to sell or buying from displaced people. “What we did was buy from people who wanted to sell,” said Camilo Abello, “without any coercion or pressure”.
Abello also denied any links to paramilitary groups and claimed the company does not use any type of security at the plantations. According to Abello, the company is helping the region by creating jobs.
“We don’t think that we are taking advantage, on the contrary we are supporting the reconstruction of the fabric of society, we are investing in a post-conflict zone,” he said.
The issue of land ownership in Montes de Maria has been complicated further by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos’ new flagship policy ― the Victims and Land Restitution Law.
The law is designed to address the desperate plight of the estimated 3-5 million Colombians forced from their lands into city slums and squatter camps by conflict and violence. Its main focus is the restitution of lands to the displaced.
Critics of Argos claim the company is using the teak plantations and their CDM status to ward off the danger of losing their lands because of the Victims Law. If Argos faces claims on its Montes de Maria land, it can retain the plantations by exploiting a loophole in the restitution process.
The Victims Law says land will not be taken from companies that are using it for agro-industrial enterprises if the company can prove it bought the land in good faith. Instead, the authorities will try to negotiate a financial agreement between company and claimant.
Colombian Congressperson Ivan Cepeda campaigns on land rights and has raised the issue of Montes de Maria land grabs to Congress.
“The operation [Argos] has done in Montes de Maria is a clear example of how the government’s proposed restitution with the Victims Laws is going to work,” he said. “All of this is a big, sophisticated operation to legalize the lands they have robbed from the campesinos.”
Cepeda is scathing of Argos’ claims to have acted in good faith when it bought the lands.
“[Paramilitary violence] did not happen in isolation,” he said. “It is a fact of public knowledge and frankly it is illogical and incomprehensible that these businesses did not know which land they were dealing with and who had lived on that land.”
He added: “[Argos’ project is] a business that it is presenting as clean when in reality it is a business drenched in blood ― the blood of campesinos that were the victims of massacres.”
The company itself says it welcomes the Victims Law and would cooperate fully with any claims on land owned by the company.
In October, Cepeda wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urging him to expel Argos from the CDM program and enforce the UN Global Compact, which commits associated companies to human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption principles.
Ban did not publicly respond, but the CDM board chair Martin Hession said responsibility for the matter lay with the Colombian government.
“Primarily, it is for (them) to resolve issues like this as they certified the sustainable development of the project,” he said in an interview with Point Carbon News.
A spokesperson for the Colombian Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development said, “Only the CDM Executive Board can take this decision [to remove Argos’ approval].”
Compared with the horrors of the turn of the century, life for the campesinos of Montes de Maria is quiet. But with growing tensions over landownership and the resurgence of paramilitarism, violence and conflict still lurk beneath the surface.
“We believe that it is not going to stay calm,” said “Andres”, a campesino from Ovejas.
“It is going to continue, we are going to see deaths here, we are going to see pressure, we are going to see evictions and displacement because they are going to try to reclaim the land like a debt and we are not going to let them.”
[The names of the campesinos interviewed for this article have been changed to protect their identities.]
- Colombia emerald tsar faces probe (bbc.co.uk)
- Colombian paramilitary surrenders (bbc.co.uk)
- Colombia’s former paramilitaries: Criminals with attitude (economist.com)
- Colombia chief prosecutor quits (bbc.co.uk)
- Former Colombia rebels lured into crime rings (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Colombia’s former paramilitaries: Criminals with attitude (economist.com)
Paul Joseph Watson
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Former fellow of George Soros’ Open Society and current Stanford University scholar Evgeny Morozov has called on Google and other search engines to become thought crime enforcers, by providing warnings about websites that contain “conspiracy theories” such as the belief, held by a majority of Americans, that global warming is not primarily man-made.
Morozov, whose biography confirms him as a well-connected insider, decries in a Slate piece how the Internet is a useful tool for “People who deny global warming” as well as “the anti-vaccination movement,” calling on Google to provide a “socially responsible curated treatment” that would marginalize such beliefs by amending search results.
His solution is to, “Nudge search engines to take more responsibility for their index and exercise a heavier curatorial control in presenting search results for issues like “global warming” or “vaccination.” Google already has a list of search queries that send most traffic to sites that trade in pseudoscience and conspiracy theories; why not treat them differently than normal queries? Thus, whenever users are presented with search results that are likely to send them to sites run by pseudoscientists or conspiracy theorists, Google may simply display a huge red banner asking users to exercise caution and check a previously generated list of authoritative resources before making up their minds.”
Morozov describes the potential that such a move will be judged as Google “shilling for Big Pharma or for Al Gore” as “a risk worth taking”.
This represents a similar argument to Cass Sunstein’s “cognitive infiltration,” an effort by Obama’s information czar to slap government warnings on controversial websites (including those claiming that exposure to sunlight is healthy). In a widely derided white paper, Sunstein called for political blogs to be forced to include pop ups that show “a quick argument for a competing view”. He also demanded that taxes be levied on dissenting opinions and even suggested that outright bans on certain thoughts should be enforced.
Giving companies like Google, which has grown to virtually become the gatekeeper of the entire Internet itself and is already engaging in SOPA-like acts of censorship, the power to denote which political and scientific positions are acceptable and which are fringe “conspiracy theories” is an insult to free thinking and smacks of Chinese-style thought control.
Morozov’s argument is also completely undermined by the fact that the two so-called fringe “conspiracy theories” he forwards as being in need of Google’s thought crime control, skepticism about global warming and the dangers of vaccines, are views held by millions of Americans and are not “fringe” at all.
In addition, polls show that a quarter of Americans, some 75 million of them, believe that vaccines are unsafe and can cause autism. To characterize this as a minority conspiracy belief is like labeling Catholicism as a doctrine of a tiny fringe.
At best, views about global warming and the safety of vaccines can be described as being split, but to claim that skepticism over man-made climate change and the dangers of inoculations are “kooky” fringe conspiracy beliefs, as Morozov does in his article, is brazenly inaccurate and exposes the agenda-driven bias of his rhetoric.
This is further illustrated by the reader comments, which almost universally deride Morozov and attack his argument as being a thinly veiled demand for Internet censorship.
“The day Google starts doing things like this is the day I find a new search engine,” writes one.
“So, you are a supporter of internet censorship? Only of information that you disagree with, of course. So I assume Slate and NAF did not support the recent action regarding SOPA?” adds another.
Morozov’s rhetoric is merely one aspect of the wider move to turn the Internet into an echo chamber of establishment propaganda, drowning out alternative voices to the benefit of large pharmaceutical companies who make billions from selling risky vaccines and scientific bodies whose very survival depends upon the global warming myth being upheld.
It represents another effort to win an information war the establishment is currently losing, as Hillary Clinton herself admitted, by not just creating a new Orwellian Internet Ministry of Truth, as Bill Clinton demanded, but by ascribing this role to the very gatekeeper of the Internet itself – Google.
- Prison Planet.com ” Soros Mouthpiece Calls On Google To Police “Conspiracy Theories” (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- | Regulatory Czar wants to use copyright protection mechanisms to shut down rumors and conspiracy theories! (truthaholics.wordpress.com)
- Regulatory Czar wants to use copyright protection mechanisms to shut down rumors and conspiracy theories (wattsupwiththat.com)
How will democrats explain this?
The Daily Mail reported:
More than 5,000 documents have been leaked online purporting to be the correspondence of climate scientists at the University of East Anglia who were previously accused of ‘massaging’ evidence of man-made climate change.
Following on from the original ‘climategate’ emails of 2009, the new package appears to show systematic suppression of evidence, and even publication of reports that scientists knew to to be based on flawed approaches.
And not only do the emails paint a picture of scientists manipulating data, government employees at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) are also implicated.
One message appeared to show a member of Defra staff telling colleagues working on climate science to give the government a ‘strong message’.
The emails paint a clear picture of scientists selectively using data, and colluding with politicians to misuse scientific information.
‘Humphrey’, said to work at Defra, writes: ‘I cannot overstate the HUGE amount of political interest in the project as a message that the government can give on climate change to help them tell their story.
‘They want their story to be a very strong one and don’t want to be made to look foolish.’
Read the whole thing.
- Climategate Scientists DID Collude with Government Officials to Hide Research That Didn’t Fit Their Apocalyptic Global Warming (tipggita32.wordpress.com)
- Science Colludes With Government To Mis-Represent Global Warming – It’s All About The Grant Money Train (tarpon.wordpress.com)
- Climategate II Emails Show US/British Govs Colluded W/Scientists to Suppress Anti-Warming (usapartisan.com)
- Climategate 2..new emails released..WSJ: The real peril comes from the economically catastrophic policies being pushed in its name (seeker401.wordpress.com)
- Latest Climategate Emails: BBC ‘In Cahoots With Climategate Scientists’ (papundits.wordpress.com)
Obama’s ideologically driven energy policy is in tatters, and the media can’t seem to help this time. It is time that he pursues a policy that will truly get America off of Middle Eastern oil, bolster the economy, and right the American ship of state.
By Roger Aronoff
One of the more important issues raised during the budget battle that nearly shut down the Federal government in April was over power given to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by President Barack Obama to regulate greenhouse gases that they claim can contribute to global warming. This has led to renewed discussion on the validity of concerns about global warming, and the related issue of America’s future energy sources.
We have addressed the issue of global warming many times over the years at Accuracy in Media (AIM). In the mid 1970s, the big concern among so-called environmentalists was that we were heading toward a new Ice Age. The essence of that point of view was carried in a Newsweek article in its April 28, 1975 edition headlined “The Cooling World.” Here was the money quote: “The central fact is that after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth’s climate seems to be cooling down. Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic.”
It wasn’t too long, 1988 to be specific, when that “almost unanimous” view shifted, and the problem had become catastrophic global warming. Larry Bell is a space architect and professor at the University of Houston, and author of the new book Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax. Bell has worked with NASA on all aspects of mission planning for lunar programs, Mars programs, and orbital programs, including the international space station. He says that “politics is responsible for the global warming hoax, and, in reality, of course the climate warms and cools all the time—Climate changes all the time.”
In an interview earlier this year with AIM, Bell said that “Change is what climate does. It’s measured, typically, in three-decade periods, although it didn’t take three decades from the time of the ’70s, when The New York Times and other organizations were reporting the next Ice Age coming, until Al Gore had his famous hearings in 1988, which declared not only that global warming was a crisis, but that we caused it.”
Bell argues that the ways the temperature is measured are hardly reliable, but that even if the earth is warming, that might not be so bad. “Do [I] believe in global warming? I say, ‘Yeah, sure I do. I think it’s great! I think it makes plants grow, and it’s good for the rainforest—lots of carbon dioxide they can breathe! The Earth isn’t frozen! We can grow plants! Trade flourishes! Pyramids get built!’ Sure, I believe in global warming.”
When asked if he accepts that there is a consensus among scientists that global warming exists and is caused by humans, he said that “everything affects everything, so to say that human activity doesn’t affect climate would be nonsensical. The question is, which activities, and how much? Can you even measure them? Can you separate them from other factors? I don’t think anybody can—I would maintain that nobody can.”
The media were complicit in pushing the global warming hoax, calling skeptics “deniers,” as in “Holocaust deniers.” Newsweek used some form of the term “denier” 20 times in one 2007 cover story on global warming about those who don’t buy into the theory. They argued that people who doubted the Al Gore apocalyptic view of a coming age of massive flooding, unbearable heat, the extinction of polar bears and the melting of ice caps and glaciers, all as a result of mankind’s overuse of carbon-based energy and the carbon dioxide it generates, were somehow the moral equivalents of people who believe that the Nazi genocide of millions of Jews in Europe was exaggerated or did not even occur.
A Scientific Consensus?
There was much more. The idea of the consensus of scientists was long since shattered. Thousands of advanced-degree scientists publicly refuted both the science and the fear mongering behind global warming, which has in recent years come to be known instead as climate change. It’s an easier concept to sell, and it doesn’t matter if the earth’s temperature is rising or cooling, it is still climate change, and who can disagree with that?
Marc Morano and the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (cfact.org) have put together ClimateDepot.com, a repository for everything related to the global warming movement, including documentation of those who were one time believers, and had become skeptics, non-believers, and yes, in many cases, deniers. Patrick Moore, one of the founders of the environmental group GreenPeace, said earlier this year, as quoted in the Glenn Beck blog, The Blaze, that global warming is a “natural phenomenon,” that there’s no proof of man-made global warming, and that “alarmism” is leading to bad environmental policies. He told Stuart Varney on the The Fox Business Network that “We do not have any scientific proof that we are the cause of the global warming that has occurred in the last 200 years…The alarmism is driving us through scare tactics to adopt energy policies that are going to create a huge amount of energy poverty among the poor people. It’s not good for people and it’s not good for the environment…In a warmer world we can produce more food.”
When asked who is promoting man-made climate fears and what are their motives, he said that it is “a powerful convergent of interests. Scientists seeking grant money, media seeking headlines, universities seeking huge grants from major institutions, foundations, environmental groups, politicians wanting to make it look like they are saving future generations. And all of these people have converged on this issue.” He said: “There are many thousands of scientists’ who reject man-made global warming fears…It’s all based on computer models and predictions. We do not actually have a crystal ball, it is a mythical object.”
What about the accusations that the skeptics were being financed by oil and industrial companies? When we wrote about this in 2007, those skeptical of the man-made global warming theory were estimated to have received tens of millions of dollars in funding, including some $19 million from ExxonMobil, but the other side, the side promoting global warming as an apocalyptic nightmare, had received some $50 billion, much of it from American taxpayers and channeled through federal and global agencies. This figure, of course, doesn’t include the dollar value of all of the media coverage in support of the theory. NBC and some affiliated networks turned over nearly 75 hours of air time to Al Gore’s Live Earth concerts. How’s that for an endorsement?
There are some excellent websites to help sort through the politics, the propaganda and the science of global warming. I recommend ClimateDepot.com, sepp.org, JunkScience.com, and Larry Bell’s book, Climate of Corruption.
The Obama energy policy has been upended by a series of events, and missteps: The ClimateGate scandal exposed the dishonesty and manipulation of data by key scientists who are among the leading proponents of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW); the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill halted, or severely slowed down, offshore drilling; the Japanese earthquake and tsunami have caused us to re-visit the expansion of nuclear power; and the House changed hands, after the Pelosi-led 111th Congress passed Cap & Trade, a costly energy tax that died in the Senate.
As The New York Times put it in a March 31st special section on Energy, Obama’s energy plan was a “complex structure [that] depended on an expansion of offshore oil drilling and nuclear power generation, creation of a trillion-dollar market in carbon pollution credits, billions of dollars of new government spending on breakthrough technologies and a tolerance for higher energy prices by consumers and businesses, all in the service of a healthier atmosphere and a more stable climate in future decades.”
The Times noted that “one after another the pillars of the plan came crashing down. The financial crisis undercut public faith in markets. The Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill set back plans for offshore drilling by several years. The Japanese earthquake and tsunami, which led to a major release of radioactivity at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor complex, raised fears about nuclear power.”
The Times continued, “Huge Republican gains in the midterm elections also dashed hopes for big new spending programs for energy technology. The upheaval in the Middle East has led to higher fuel prices and opposition to costly new regulations for the oil industry. And continuing high unemployment and sluggish economic growth have made raising energy costs for any reason a political nonstarter. “
In fact, the day Obama took office in 2009, oil was at just over $38 a barrel, and on April 7 of this year, it was at $108.
Failing to get his Cap & Trade legislation through the Senate, Obama turned to the EPA to implement the policy through the back door. He had shown his hand early in his administration when he chose as his “Green Energy Czar,” Van Jones, a self-described communist, who hinted at his plans for America: “the green economy will start off as a small subset. And we are going to push it and push it and push it… until it becomes the engine for transforming the whole society.” Only when it was revealed that he had also signed a petition indicating his support for the so-called “9/11 Truth movement,” was he booted out of the administration.
And remember what Obama said while campaigning for president in 2008: “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK.” He added: “That’s not leadership. That’s not going to happen.”
Congress and the EPA
Last year, for the first time since the passage of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, Congress, under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), failed to pass a budget for the upcoming Fiscal Year. As a result, the new Republican-led House had to take the lead in passing a budget for the remainder of 2011, after a series of Continuing Resolutions had kept the government operating. They attempted to add “riders” (amendments not specifically related to the primary bill) to the budget, including one that would have limited the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases to address climate change.
The rider didn’t survive the final negotiations, but a bill did pass the House by a vote of 255-172, including 19 Democrats, that would have taken that power from the EPA. It then failed in the Senate, going down 50-50 (60 votes were required—remember when Democrats wanted to change the filibuster rule?). According to Science and Environmental Policy Project (Sepp.org), the organization founded by Fred Singer, a former director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service, “Many advocates of the orthodoxy, including legislative commentators in the press, stated opposition to the bill by falsely claiming it would severely limit the EPA to regulate harmful emissions under the Clean Air Act. Actually, the bill clearly addressed regulation of greenhouse gases (naming them) for climate change only. If the gases are poisonous, they can be regulated under the Clean Air Act. EPA has not established that carbon dioxide is poisonous.”
Four Democratic senators voted with the Republicans to strip the EPA of its power, fearing that such power exercised by the EPA would be harmful to the economy, and to their re-election chances.
“So what is left,” asked the Times, “of the Obama administration’s energy ambitions?”
“Cap and trade has morphed into a ‘clean energy standard,’ under which 80 percent of electricity in the United States would be generated from clean sources by 2035. Mr. Obama laid out the goal in this year’s State of the Union address and has promoted it at several events since.”
According to Mario Loyola, writing on The Weekly Standard blog, based on “EPA’s own estimates, the number of businesses subject to onerous new requirements would increase from 12,000 to 6.1 million, including millions of restaurants and apartment buildings, most of which would simply have to shut down. EPA estimated the cost to governments and business at more than $100 billion just in the first few years.”
Another setback to Obama occurred when his administration finally decided in early April that it was giving up on helping to build an international structure, or treaty, like Kyoto, Copenhagen, or Cancun, to combat global warming, and instead would work to just accomplish his goals in the U.S.
According to a Bloomberg News report, “The U.S. government’s lead envoy on climate change said the United Nations talks aimed at negotiating a binding treaty to curb global warming are based on ‘unrealistic’ expectations that are ‘not doable.’”
It said that “Todd Stern, the State Department official who heads the U.S. delegation at the 192-nation discussions, said that a meeting this week in Bangkok was ‘marked by struggles over the agenda’ similar to ‘bickering over the shape of the negotiating table.’”
“The comments were the strongest criticism yet from the U.S. of the process aimed at capping greenhouse gases.”
The other issue is drilling for oil and gas. One of Obama’s stated goals, as has been every president’s, is ending our dependency on Middle East oil. But at the same time, he has severely restricted new drilling in this country, using the BP oil spill in April 2010 as the justification. At the same time the Obama team started up the 2012 re-election campaign in April, they claimed to be offering up new licenses for the rights to drill for oil by certain companies. But what they were really getting for the most part was the right to apply for licenses, and in some cases to resume drilling at old projects.
In March, Obama said that “Oil production from federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico reached an all-time high.” But the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that production in the Gulf is in decline, forecasting a decline of 250,000 barrels a day from Gulf production.
There was also confusion and outrage expressed when President Obama, during his trip to Brazil in March, announced that he wanted the U.S. to assist the Brazilian government “with technology and support” to help develop its oil reserves, and that “we want to be one of your best customers.” This at a time when we are limiting our own drilling and pledging to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
In the meantime, natural gas could become a big part of the solution. A recent report by the EIA says that “The development of shale gas has become a ‘game changer’ for the U.S. natural gas market.” It says that the U.S. has “technically recoverable” shale gas resources estimated at 862 trillion cubic feet. Already, many trucks and buses in this country operate on natural gas, but the infrastructure to use them in cars is not there. A shift to natural gas could end our dependence on Middle East oil, which would stop our funding of terrorists around the world. Plus, it burns clean, thus having the added advantage of comforting the global warming alarmists.
In addition, there is an estimated 800 billion barrels of oil locked up in shale in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado. These shale reserves are triple the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia, showing Obama’s press-conference claim that the U.S. has only 2% of the world’s oil to be blatantly false.
Obama’s ideologically driven energy policy is in tatters, and the media can’t seem to help this time. It is time that he pursues a policy that will truly get America off of Middle Eastern oil, bolster the economy, and right the American ship of state.•
By Ed Lasky
Barack Obama will give yet another major “jobs” speech this week. Ho-hum. For all the ballyhoo, he has been giving these for years. Most of America will tune out and instead look forward to his speech being over so they can celebrate something consequential: the start of NFL Football.
Obama has become tiresome. He is over-exposed. He has overstayed his welcome. We can hear the clichés that will be laced through his speech even before he speaks — the opposite of an echo. The promises will be there — what else can he sell? Certainly not his record on the economy.
He has always been a snake oil salesman; such people always tempt the needy with promises of great things to come. So we will once more hear him tout his policies as creating legions of new “green jobs” while making America the world leader in green energy. We have heard it before. He must either think we are stuck on stupid or he is the one stuck on stupid. This policy has clearly been one giant Green Jobs Con Job.
Those green jobs we have been promised have been a mirage. They are often temporary in nature and come at an extraordinary high price. Loan guarantees, mandates, feed-in tariffs, outright gifts of taxpayer money and other assorted goodies from the government have gone to bolster the prospects of profiteers and not the paychecks of workers. Often the money eventually flows to China to buy products (solar panels, wind turbines, rare earth minerals). The billions for green energy buried in the stimulus bill and the budget of the Department of Energy have been a stimulus all right: to China. But not only have the Chinese benefitted.
Obama’s spending has also enriched various venture capitalist supporters in Silicon Valley and other enclaves where Barack Obama is still popular. The billions that have flowed out of Washington (that is, from us) have brightened the prospects for such Green Entrepreneurs as Al Gore, the political prospects of the Biden family in Delaware (the electric car company Fisker Automotive got hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars from Uncles Barack and Joe Biden to open a factory in Delaware of all places — despite the fact that most new car factories now are located in right-to-work states; but the Biden political dynasty needs all the help it can get back home).
The billions tucked away here and there in Obama’s trillion dollar budgets serve as a slush fund to enrich people under the Democrats’ “friends and family program” (such as the Carnahan political dynasty in Missouri, enriched by stimulus money poured into a wind farm owned by a prominent member of that family; and the Kanjorksi clan in Pennsylvania — the nephew of then Congressman Paul Kanjorski worked for companies, including a Spanish solar company, that received hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks and grants for green energy ventures). These billions have also been a way to pay back donors and Bundlers for Barack.
The latest scandal to come to light is the immorality tale of Solynda — a solar company that had failure stamped all over it according to private and government analysts, but that nevertheless was granted a 500 million dollar plus loan guarantee by Obama’s Department of Energy through a process that ignored government rules meant to protect taxpayers. It was a process that seemingly was greased by active intervention by the White House and perhaps frequent visits to the White House by George Kaiser, whose foundation is the single largest private investor in Solyndra.
Kaiser is a major Democratic donor and bundler for Barack Obama. The Energy Information Administration says that 14.7 billion dollars in taxpayers’ money was handed directly to renewable energy companies last year. Recall that it was President Obama himself who defined politics as a way to “reward friends.”
The jobs being protected by this outpouring of money are those of Obama and Biden and their friends in the federal government and Democratic Party.
But, I digress . Obama doesn’t mention his donors that benefit from his spending; he instead touts the jobs being generated — if not the electricity (because these ventures seldom generate any). As the Weekly Standard aptly puts it “green jobs have become a euphemism for crony capitalism” .
In 2009, Obama dedicated $7.2 billion dollars of stimulus to build ‘clean tech” jobs.
How has he done so far on that job front?
There is a litany of failed efforts to create jobs. Three hundred million dollars went to Johnson Controls to make electric batteries. According to the White House, which errs on the side of optimism if not delusion, that led to the creation of …drum roll please…150 jobs. That comes out to a cost of $2 million per job. Investor’s Business Daily has listed more examples of the “Wasted Stimulus” but the examples abound are far too numerous to list in a single column. Green jobs are a myth-like unicorns, writes Walter Russell Mead.
The headlines say it all. Even the non-partisan but left-leaning Politico recently published a column regarding how “Green Jobs success eludes Obama.” But the ultimate shock to the body politic was when no less than the New York Times ran a column headlined “Number of Green Jobs Fails to Live Up to Promises.” Aaron Glantz wrote in this piece:
Federal and state efforts to stimulate creation of green jobs have largely failed, government records show. Two years after it was awarded $186 million in federal stimulus money to weatherize drafty homes, California has spent only a little over half that sum and has so far created the equivalent of just 538 full-time jobs in the last quarter, according to the State Department of Community Services and Development.
The weatherization program was initially delayed for seven months while the federal Department of Labor determined prevailing wage standards for the industry. Even after that issue was resolved, the program never really caught on.
Ironically, job growth has been stalled because of the unions’ insistence that the Davis-Bacon Act be followed and not waived by President Obama. This union-favored act requires workers on federally-funded projects be paid the prevailing wage standards for the type of work in that area. Those “prevailing” wages usually are determined to be high union wages. Abiding by the Davis-Bacon Act (which can be waived by the President, as George Bush did after Katrina to speed job growth and reconstruction) is a way to make unions — if not taxpayers who foot the bill — happy.
Glantz reminds readers that Obama pledged to create 5 million green jobs over 10 years but that the results so far suggest such numbers are a “pipe dream”.
It is a useful exercise to compare and contrast the job growth in the oil and gas industry versus that of the green economy. In other words, compare reality versus fantasy. Stephen Moore writes in the Wall Street Journal:
President Obama is expected to seek another $250 billion or so in new stimulus funds next week, with plenty of money for clean energy and the creation of so-called green jobs.
Never mind that no one can seem to find many Americans who got green jobs as a result of the original stimulus spending.
Moore does note that energy jobs are being created at a rapid clip, but in the one sector that Obama considers a mortal political enemy and villain; the oil and gas industry.
According to data from the Federal Reserve Board’s Industrial Production Indexes, the oil and gas industry, which the Obama Energy Department loathes, has had more growth in output than any other manufacturing industry in the U.S. from 2005 through 2011. As a reward, the administration is proposing $35 billion in new taxes on the industry to slow it down. Even if we accept the dubious White House claim that all the oil and gas tax write-offs are unwarranted loopholes, a 2011 Congressional Research Service study finds that per unit of electricity produced, for every two cents of tax subsidy to Big Oil, Big Green (wind and solar) get closer to $1 in handouts.
A huge source of this job growth that has revitalized communities and enriched government coffers with lease payments and taxes has been the shale gas industry — that Obama and fellow Democrats seem determined to stop (see “Cheap natural gas and its Democratic Enemies“).
But we get the spin about green energy and green jobs.
But how did such a dream-such a green scheme-get started and how will it run its course?
Spain: A Precursor of Our Future Under Obama
I recently had a chance to interview Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor from Spain, whose pioneering work on the interplay between green energy subsides and job creation has been widely cited. His conclusion, backed up by data and facts not blind hope, is that 2.2 jobs are lost for each one “created” by government promotion of green energy jobs. Money is taken from productive parts of the economy and channeled for political purposes into wasteful green energy projects. The damage is compounded by the very high energy prices that come from the “free” energy of the sun and wind. His work is especially relevant because Obama has praised Spain no fewer than eight times as a role model for a green economy.
So how sunny are the prospects for Spain?
Gianluca Baratti of Bloomberg News writes in “Job Losses from Obama Green Stimulus Foreseen in Spanish Study”:
Subsidizing renewable energy in the U.S. may destroy two jobs for every one created if Spain’s experience with windmills and solar farms is any guide.
For every new position that depends on energy price supports, at least 2.2 jobs in other industries will disappear, according to a study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid…
The premiums paid for solar, biomass, wave and wind power – – which are charged to consumers in their bills — translated into a $774,000 cost for each Spanish “green job” created since 2000, said Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at the university and author of the report.
“The loss of jobs could be greater if you account for the amount of lost industry that moves out of the country due to higher energy prices,” he said in an interview.
When I asked Professor Calzada about the genesis of Spain’s green energy program he answered that it was the desire of Spanish political elites to be “world leaders” that drove the program — and the Spanish economy off the cliff. Ironically, it was the Conservative Party in Spain that created the legislation that led to this disaster (it allowed so called feed-in tariffs to boost prices paid for renewable energy; California is among the states in America that have similar programs). But it was the socialists who used this law to create a vast renewable power industry fueled by government taxing, borrowing, and spending.
It was the desire of political elites to be perceived to be world leaders that led to this disaster. That certainly has echoes here in America when such terminology is repeatedly used by Barack Obama to justify his Green Schemes. It would not be the first time that personal ego played a role in damaging a nation. Indeed, Barack Obama seems to have a bit of an Edifice Complex –the problem arises when we have to pay for monuments that gratify his ego.
Professor Calzada explained that jobs were not the initial impetus behind the launch of vast programs to set up wind and solar farms. That only came later when promoters grasped onto then as a way to rationalize continued wasteful spending. Then banks and other financial institutions joined the party, lending vast sums to the promoters of the ventures. A vicious circle developed; banks were so heavily invested in these boondoggles that pulling the plug on government spending would bankrupt many of the Green Energy companies they had extended loans to. So then banks, to protect their own future, started promoting green energy programs and the prospects of politicians who would stand with them. Jobs would be lost, loans would go bad, companies would go bankrupt — so the spending spree continued. But, as Margaret Thatcher noted, the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.
Spain is now teetering on the brink of economic ruin. All the solar and wind farms on the sun-drenched plains of Spain will not restore the nation to health. They are saddled with sky-high energy bills (the price of electricity has soared over 100% since the Socialist took power in 2004) and weighed down by vast amounts of debt spent to boost the egos of politicians and line the pockets of profiteers who depend on them.
The victims of course were the Spanish people — those who lost their jobs, those who faced a bleak economy, and those in years to come who will be responsible for paying back the vast amounts borrowed to fuel these pipedreams. There is some hope though: the Socialists have recently been trounced in the polls. The Spanish people are rebelling.
They are also trying to warn us. There has been a tsunami of solar bankruptcies in Spain as subsides have been cut. One Spanish newspaper had a headline, “Spain admits that the green economy sold to Obama is a ruin .” That is the same snake oil he is trying to peddle to Americans.
I had the opportunity to ask Professor Calzada if he had been in contact with the Obama administration. He said that he had twice tried to contact Energy Secretary Chu to inform him that he was coming to America and would be more than happy to meet with administration officials to discuss his work on green energy programs and job creation. Chu was too busy to meet with Calzada. Nor would he even send an underling to discuss Calzada’s findings. Wasn’t this the team that prided itself on respecting science and facts and listening to the views of others?
Calzada also volunteered that the Center for America Progress (CAP) has roundly criticized his work. This is the Obama-allied think tank funded to a large extent by George Soros. The opposition from the CAP is no surprise. Soros has proclaimed that he will invest at least a billion dollars in “green energy.” Soros has also been a major supporter of Barack Obama, whose policies look to benefit his political patron. Soros himself spilled the beans when he said in a New Yorker profile that there are “symbiotic moments between political and business interests”. We are living in such a moment now.
Obama never seems to learn while in office. He will again double down on the failed policies that have already caused a great deal of damage and will be even more harmful in years to come as we follow the Spanish model.
Calzada ended our conversation with a poignant question: why are we trying to harm ourselves?
A better question for Americans might be: why is Obama trying to harm us and how do we stop him?
Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.
President Obama’s green energy push is rapidly proving to be a crooked racket. It works like this: Revolving-door political hires rev up subsidy programs that enrich their former employers. Then they cash out themselves, pocketing taxpayer loot while turning out energy products that range from inefficient technologies to total failures. Faster than the turbine on a subsidized wind mill, the “clean-tech” revolving door spins out green bandits who get rich off the subsidies they helped craft.
Cathy Zoi, an Al Gore acolyte, has left her job as assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy to go to work for a new fund that invests in green energy. It was started by Democratic donor George Soros.
Her former “special assistant,” Peter Roehrig, joined DOE’s renewable energy office from the lobbying firm ISG. Roehrig’s bosses at the firm then launched a company, US-REG, seemingly in effort to pocket taxpayer dollars by acting as cutouts for Chinese windmill barons trying to get their hands on stimulus money.
There are plenty of revolving-door green bandits, but the paths of Zoi and Roehrig – both of whom passed through the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy office, which was responsible for $16 billion in stimulus money – exemplify how Obama’s stimulus and green-energy initiatives open the door for corruption and patronage.
Zoi’s tenure at EERE was rife with conflicts of interest. Her husband, Robin Roy, is an executive at Serious Materials, a small window manufacturer that boomed when Obama came to office. First, Serious Materials benefited from free advertising by the White House: President Obama praised a new Serious factory in March – before he officially nominated Zoi – and then Vice President Biden made a public visit to a different Serious plant in April, just after her nomination but before her confirmation. Finally, Serious was also the first window company to pocket a stimulus tax credit – worth $584,000 – for investing in new equipment.
Zoi testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in favor of a HOMESTAR program, also known as cash for caulkers, which became another subsidy for Serious.
At the time of her nomination, the couple owned between them 120,000 stock options in Serious Materials, according to her April 2009 personal financial disclosure. She also owned at least $265,000 of stock in a Swiss company called Landis+Gyr that makes “smart meters,” high-tech thermostats that the administration has promoted for saving energy. Pro-free-market writer and lawyer Chris Horner described the conflicts of interest: “Clearly, DoE funding to encourage the adoption of ‘smart meters’ would very likely lead to much increased sales by Landis+Gyr — and a potential windfall for Zoi.”
Now Zoi has left Energy’s EERE, where she advanced and implemented subsidies for renewable energy, and is going to work for a Soros-backed green-tech fund: Silver Lake Kraftwerk, a partnership between Soros Fund Management and Silicon Valley private equity giant Silver Lake.
Zoi’s boss will be veteran tech investor Adam Grosser, who gave more than $50,000 to Democratic candidates last election. Soros said the fund, for which he is employing the former head of the federal Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy office, will focus on “developing alternative sources of energy and achieving greater energy efficiency.”
The Soros-Zoi hire not only undermines Obama’s talk about stopping the revolving door, it also undermines the constant liberal refrain that Soros – unlike conservative political donors – is simply funding political causes he believes in, not causes that profit him. The Soros-created Center for American Progress is a leading advocate of green subsidies.
The pedigree of Zoi’s former “special assistant” focused on giving out stimulus money, Peter Roehrig, also deserves scrutiny.
Roehrig, according to an online biography, “helped start US Renewable Energy Group, [US-REG] which has recently made the largest ever U.S.-China joint investment in American renewable energy to date.” After this column first ran, Roehrig told me the biography was incorrect, and that he instead worked as a researcher at K Street lobbying firm Integrated Solutions Group before ISG lobbyists formed US-REG.
A little-noticed report by Russ Choma at MSNBC.com last December showed that US-REG epitomizes the way in which Obama’s green agenda has become a feeding frenzy for the politically connected.
US-REG was founded by K Street lobbyists John O’Hanlon and Moses Boyd and Democratic fundraiser Ed Cunningham, apparently for the sole purpose of winning federal subsidies. The company started a joint-venture with a Chinese wind-power developer, took a 51 percent stake, and applied for stimulus money – while their former researcher, Roehrig, was on the inside, working for Cathy Zoi in DOE.
In any other industry, these conflicts of interest and naked subsidy-suckling would draw a firestorm of media attention about cronyism and corporate welfare. But green bandits like Zoi, Soros, Roehrig, and O’Hanlon, instead are praised as entrepreneurs who are also trying to save the planet. It just shows what you can get away with in this town if you cloak yourself in green.
UPDATE, TUESDAY, MARCH 1: After this column ran, Roehrig responded to my requests for comment. He told me the online bio I had quoted was wrong, and that he was a researcher on energy issues at ISG for a few months before joining DOE. He said US-REG wasn’t founded until after he left ISG. I have updated the above text to reflect this.