Tag Archives: George Kaiser

Obama to hand out millions of taxpayer dollars in green energy firm bailouts

From The Hill.

Excerpt:

The Energy Department said Thursday it expects to begin tentatively approving new taxpayer-backed loans for renewable energy projects in the coming months.

The announcement comes about seven months after Solyndra, the California solar firm that received a $535 million loan guarantee from the administration in 2009, went bankrupt, setting off a firestorm in Washington.

[…][Frantz] defended the loan program from GOP critics, who have alleged that the administration is wasting taxpayer money by supporting risky renewable energy projects.

“By any measure, the Energy Department’s loan programs have helped the United States keep pace in the fierce global race for clean energy technologies,” Frantz wrote.

This direction is consistent with Obama’s own words:

Despite some green energy failures, such as the bankrupt Solyndra solar panel company and weak-selling Chevy Volt, President Barack Obama said that he wanted to “double down” on green energy spending, and would do what he could even without Congress to subsidize these companies.

Obama’s assertions, at the University of Miami on Thursday, come after numerous reports of green energy firms that received large sums of federal loans and grants but which have either declared bankruptcy or hit financial problems. In his remarks, Obama sought to draw a contrast between subsidies to green energy firms and $4 billion in tax breaks for oil and gas companies.

“A century of subsidies to the oil companies is long enough,” Obama said. “It’s time to end taxpayer giveaways to an industry that’s never been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that’s never been more promising.”

He wants to “double down” on handing out subsidies and bailouts to certain companies. What is the goal of this government spending? Is it a good deal for taxpayers? Who benefits?

What does giving money to green energy firms really accomplish?

Let’s see an example. BrightSource, a company owned by the Kennedys, got 1.4 billion of taxpayer dollars:

President John F. Kennedy’s nephew, Robert Kennedy, Jr., netted a $1.4 billion bailout for his company, BrightSource, through a loan guarantee issued by a former employee-turned Department of Energy official.

[…]The details of how BrightSource managed to land its ten-figure taxpayer bailout have yet to emerge fully. However, one clue might be found in the person of Sanjay Wagle.

Wagle was one of the principals in Kennedy’s firm who raised money for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. When Obama won the White House, Wagle was installed at the Department of Energy (DOE), advising on energy grants.

From an objective vantage point, investing taxpayer monies in BrightSource was a risky proposition at the time. In 2010, BrightSource, whose largest shareholder is Kennedy’s VantagePoint Partners, was up to its eyes in $1.8 billion of debt obligations and had lost $71.6 million on its paltry $13.5 million of revenue.

[…]BrightSource touted the Ivanpah project as a green jobs creator. Yet as its own website reveals, the thermal solar plant will only create 1,400 jobs at its peak construction and 650 jobs annually thereafter. Even using the peak estimate of 1,400 jobs, that works out to a cost to taxpayers of $1 million per job created.

Here’s another example of giving money to green energy firms: Solyndra, which got $535 million taxpayer dollars.

Excerpt:

George Kaiser, the billionaire investor and fundraiser for President Barack Obama, discussed Solyndra LLC with administration officials, renewing debate about political influence in U.S. support for the company.

A March 5, 2010, communication from Kaiser to representatives of his family foundation, the biggest private investor in Solyndra, and its venture-capital arm said the solar-panel maker came up in a meeting with “administration folks” a few weeks earlier.

“Every one of them responded simultaneously about their thorough knowledge of the Solyndra story, suggesting it was one of their prime poster children,” Kaiser, whose family foundation invested in Solyndra, wrote in the e-mail released today by Republican lawmakers.

Kaiser’s role has been among the subjects of a congressional inquiry into Solyndra since theCalifornia company that received a $535 million U.S. loan guarantee filed for bankruptcy in September.

The e-mail and others released today contradict White House statements that “no political influence was brought to bear” and Kaiser “never discussed Solyndra during any of his 17 visits to the White House,” Representatives Fred Upton of Michigan and Cliff Stearns of Florida, who are leading a House Energy and Commerce Committee probe, said in a letter to White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler.

This is an election year, and Obama’s fundraisers would need to be paid off with taxpayer money first, if they are going to be able to turn around and donate some of it back to his election campaign.

To me, Obama’s only plan for a recovery is to keep spending and spending and spending. And what is he spending? He is spending away the future  prosperity of the next generation of Americans in order to buy votes from the current generation of Americans. What other President would be so incompetent as to blow through trillions and trillions of dollars in “stimulus” spending and get a lower number of working Americans on the other side? We elected a wastrel and he is doing what wastrels do – wasting money. It’s not even his own money – it’s your children’s money. And the worse part is that he gets annoyed when people don’t worship him for his failure – as if we should praise his high-minded rhetoric even when he fails to produce results.

Is Obama telling the truth about U.S. oil reserves?

The Department of Energy's own figures

The Department of Energy’s own figures

Investors Business Daily explains. (H/T Master Resource)

Excerpt:

When he was running for the Oval Office four years ago amid $4-a-gallon gasoline prices, then-Sen. Barack Obama dismissed the idea of expanded oil production as a way to relieve the pain at the pump.

“Even if you opened up every square inch of our land and our coasts to drilling,” he said. “America still has only 3% of the world’s oil reserves.” Which meant, he said, that the U.S. couldn’t affect global oil prices.

It’s the same rhetoric President Obama is using now, as gas prices hit $4 again, except now he puts the figure at 2%.

“With only 2% of the world’s oil reserves, we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices,” he said. “Not when we consume 20% of the world’s oil.”

The claim makes it appear as though the U.S. is an oil-barren nation, perpetually dependent on foreign oil and high prices unless we can cut our own use and develop alternative energy sources like algae.

But the figure Obama uses — proved oil reserves — vastly undercounts how much oil the U.S. actually contains. In fact, far from being oil-poor, the country is awash in vast quantities — enough to meet all the country’s oil needs for hundreds of years.

The U.S. has 22.3 billion barrels of proved reserves, a little less than 2% of the entire world’s proved reserves, according to the Energy Information Administration. But as the EIA explains, proved reserves “are a small subset of recoverable resources,” because they only count oil that companies are currently drilling for in existing fields.

When you look at the whole picture, it turns out that there are vast supplies of oil in the U.S., according to various government reports. Among them:

At least 86 billion barrels of oil in the Outer Continental Shelf yet to be discovered, according to the government’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

About 24 billion barrels in shale deposits in the lower 48 states, according to EIA.

Up to 2 billion barrels of oil in shale deposits in Alaska’s North Slope, says the U.S. Geological Survey.

Up to 12 billion barrels in ANWR, according to the USGS.

As much as 19 billion barrels in the Utah tar sands, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

Then, there’s the massive Green River Formation in Wyoming, which according to the USGS contains a stunning 1.4 trillion barrels of oil shale — a type of oil released from sedimentary rock after it’s heated.

[…]All told, the U.S. has access to 400 billion barrels of crude that could be recovered using existing drilling technologies, according to a 2006 Energy Department report.

When you include oil shale, the U.S. has 1.4 trillion barrels of technically recoverable oil, according to the Institute for Energy Research, enough to meet all U.S. oil needs for about the next 200 years, without any imports.

Please share this article, because it is unlikely that Obama’s Solyndra-supporting buddies in the mainstream media will report the facts on domestic energy production.

Production of oil, gas and coal on federal lands sinks to 9-year low

Obama claims that production of oil, gas and coal is up since he took office. It’s true that areas under state control are producing more, but what about energy production on federal lands? That’s the part of the country that Obama is responsible for.

Let’s see what two recent studies from the Energy Information Administration and the Institute for Energy Research found.

Excerpt:

The updated EIA report revealed a 12 percent decline in production for coal, oil, and natural gas on federal and Indian lands from fiscal 2003 through fiscal 2011.

During this same period, production on state and private lands has increased, boosting overall production numbers for the United States. That’s a point even President Obama will acknowledge: “Under my Administration, domestic oil and natural gas production is up,” he said upon announcing his rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Obama is correct. He just can’t rightfully claim the credit, since the vast majority of America’s new oil and gas production is happening on private lands in states like North Dakota, Alaska and Texas.

The administration, meanwhile, has also taken several steps to limit production…

  • Withdrew areas offered for 77 oil and gas leases in Utah that could cost American taxpayers millions in lost lease bids, production royalties, new jobs and the energy needed to offset rising imports of oil and natural gas.
  • Cancelled lease sales in the Western Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic coast and delayed exploration off the coast of Alaska and kept other resource-rich areas off-limits.
  • Finalized rules, first announced by Secretary Salazar on January 6, 2010, to establish more government hurdles to onshore oil and natural gas production on federal lands.
  • Withdrew 61 oil and natural gas leases in Montana as part of a lawsuit settlement over climate change.

“The big picture is clear that government policies undertaken by the Obama administration have produced a significant decline in offshore oil production on federal lands in fiscal year 2011,” the Institute for Energy Research said in response to last week’s updated EIA analysis. “That is certainly not a way to increase domestic production of oil and keep oil and thus gasoline prices in check.”

While it was waiting for EIA to update its numbers, the Institute for Energy Research conducted its own analysis of Department of Interior data in February. It came to the same conclusion: “Production on federal lands is down, while production on state and private lands is up.”

That’s the real story behind Obama’s claims about higher energy production. He’s doing his best to block energy production in the areas under his control. His energy plan is Solyndra, Solyndra, Solyndra – paying off his rich Democrat buddies with taxpayer money.

Solyndra CEO and CFO will refuse to answer questions in Congressional hearing

Does Obama give taxpayer money millionaires and billionaires?
Obama gave $535 million taxpayer dollars to Solyndra, a company backed by a billionaire Obama-supporter

The Washington Examiner has the story. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

Two members leading the Congressional investigation into bankrupt solar energy firm Solyndra said the company’s executives broke their promise to testify openly during a hearing scheduled for this Friday, instead electing to exercise their Fifth amendment rights not to answer questions.

In a statement released moments ago, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., and oversight subcommittee chairman Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., said:

“Our investigation has gotten this far without much cooperation from Solyndra, and it will continue with or without their voluntary testimony. It’s disappointing that the officials who canvassed the halls of Congress in mid-July and misled our members about the financial state of their company are now unwilling to answer direct questions, but any effort to cover up the truth will ultimately not succeed. We will not allow stonewalling by DOE, OMB, Committee Democrats, Solyndra, or anyone else to stop this investigation into what happened to half a billion dollars of the taxpayers’ money.

“Both Mr. Stover and Mr. Harrison will be sworn in under oath this Friday. We have many questions for Solyndra’s executives on their dealings with the Obama administration, their efforts to secure federal support for a project that appeared doomed from the outset, and why they made certain representations to Congress regarding their dire financial situation just two months ago. We would encourage Mr. Harrison and Mr. Stover to reconsider this effort to dodge questions under oath and hide the truth from those American taxpayers who are now on the hook for their $500 million bust.”

I wonder why the beneficiaries of a $535 million dollar stimulus grant would refuse to answer questions from Congress, now that they’ve declared bankruptcy. I wonder if it’s because of Solyndra’s links to Obama fundraisers?

Excerpt:

A key unanswered question in the Solyndra loan investigation concerns the role George Kaiser, the Oklahoma billionaire and major Obama fundraiser whose Family Foundation owned a large stake in the failed solar-panel company. Kaiser made multiple visits to the White House in the week before the Department of Energy approved a $535 million guaranteed loan to Solyndra on March 20, 2009, and helped arrange 16 separate meetings between top White House officials and Solyndra executives around that time. Yet Kaiser maintains that he “did not participate in any discussions with the U.S. government regarding the loan.”

But as the following video clip reveals, when it comes to steering government funds his way, Kaiser knew exactly what he was doing. Indeed, here he is July 2009 openly boasting about his ability to get his hands on stimulus funding. “There’s never been more money shoved out of the government’s door in world history, and probably never will be again, than in the last few months and in the next 18 months,” he says. “And our selfish parochial goal is to get as much as it for Tulsa and Oklahoma as we possibly can.”

Kaiser cites his “multiple trips to Washington” and his ability to secure meetings with “all the key players in the West Wing of the White House.” He also touts his “almost unique advantage,” through his foundation, of being able to match public dollars with private funding. That way, Kaiser says, the Obama administration will know “we’ll watch over it because we don’t want to be embarrassed with the way our money is spent and so we won’t make you be embarrassed with the way your money is spent either.” Sure, what could possibly go wrong?

Here’s the video:

And more from that National Review article:

While Solyndra’s failure is an embarrassment for both parties, Kaiser’s foundation still stands to recoup a large chunk of its investment in the company, whereas taxpayers will recoup very little, if any, of the $535 million investment the White House made on our behalf. That’s because once Solyndra’s financial troubles became too obvious to ignore, the DOE negotiated a loan restructuring that gave priority status to private investors over taxpayers with respect to the first $75 million recovered in the event of Solyndra’s collapse. As Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations pointed out last week, this appears to be a blatant violation of federal law.

Obama may take issue with the fact that “millionaires and billionaires” like Kaiser make too much money, but he obviously has no qualms about showering them with taxpayer dollars.

Remember, it’s not just one Obama fundraiser who has been linked to Solyndra.

Obama administration reworked Solyndra loan to favor private donors

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Excerpt:

The Obama administration restructured a half-billion dollar federal loan to a troubled solar energy company in such a way that private investors — including a fundraiser for President Barack Obama — moved ahead of taxpayers for repayment in case of a default, government records show.

Administration officials defended the loan restructuring, saying that without an infusion of cash earlier this year, solar panel maker Solyndra Inc. would likely have faced immediate bankruptcy, putting more than 1,000 people out of work.

Even with the federal help, Solyndra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month and laid off its 1,100 employees.

The Fremont, Calif.-based company was the first renewable-energy company to receive a loan guarantee under a stimulus-law program to encourage green energy and was frequently touted by the Obama administration as a model. Obama visited the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters last year, and Vice President Joe Biden spoke by satellite at its groundbreaking.

Since then, the implosion of the company and revelations that the administration hurried Office of Management and Budget officials to finish their review of the loan in time for the September 2009 groundbreaking has become an embarrassment for Obama as he sells his new job-creation program around the country.

An Associated Press review of regulatory filings shows that Solyndra was hemorrhaging hundreds of millions of dollars for years before the Obama administration signed off on the original $535 million loan guarantee in September 2009. The company eventually got $528 million.

Given the company’s shaky financial condition, Republican lawmakers say the decision to restructure the loan raises questions about whether the administration protected political supporters at taxpayers’ expense.

“You should have protected the taxpayers and made some forceful actions here after this analysis,” Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., told a top Energy Department official this week. “Because you should have seen the problems. And you should have said, ‘Taxpayers need to be protected and this has got to stop.’ “

In other news, another Obama fundraiser has been linked to the loan to Solyndra.

Excerpt:

Steve Spinner, who helped monitor the Energy Department’s issuance of $25 billion in government loan guarantees to renewable energy projects, was one of Obama’s top fundraisers in 2008 and is raising money for the president’s 2012 reelection campaign.

Spinner did not have any role in the selection of applicants for the loan program and, in fact, was recused from the decision to grant a $535-million loan guarantee to Solyndra Inc. because his wife’s law firm represented the company, administration officials said Friday.

But Spinner’s role as a top official in the Energy Department program, which had not been previously revealed, is likely to spur new inquiries into whether political influence played a role in the handling of the “green” energy fund. Solyndra faces a congressional probe, a criminal investigation and separate internal inquiries at the Energy and Treasury departments.

“This will fuel more questions, and now you’ve got real people involved at the inspector-general level who will be turning over chairs and cabinets, asking questions,” said Stanley Brand, a criminal defense and ethics lawyer in Washington who has served as general counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives.

[…]Spinner, who raised at least $500,000 for Obama in 2008, is leading efforts to raise money from the technology industry for the president’s reelection campaign. He did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

Last week, he invited Obama fundraisers who were in Chicago for a national finance committee meeting to the launch of the Technology for Obama fundraising program. In July, the Obama campaign credited Spinner with raising between $200,000 and $500,000 so far this year.

Spinner was a Silicon Valley investor who founded a sports and wellness company before he joined the administration in April 2009 after serving on Obama’s transition team. He was named an advisor to Energy Secretary Steven Chu and was charged with helping oversee a loan guarantee program authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the economic stimulus program.

[…]During his tenure, the program approved 20 loan guarantees totaling $25 billion for energy storage, wind power and solar generation, according to Spinner’s resume on LinkedIn. Among them was final approval for Solyndra, which planned to manufacture thin solar modules for flat rooftops.

So who benefited from the loan restructuring? More Obama fundraisers:

The largest investments in Solyndra were funds operated on behalf of the family foundation of billionaire George Kaiser, another major fundraiser for Obama in 2008. Kaiser has denied personally investing in the solar energy company or talking to White House officials about the loan.

I can hardly wait for this story to unfold. Maybe the mainstream media will start covering the Gunwalker story soon, too. That scandal has been out there for months.