Archive for July 22nd, 2009

California retirees lose big but invest in cap-and-trade?

July 22, 2009

CalPERS, California’s giant state retirement system, has invested $200 million with Vinod Khosla, a venture capitalist who focuses on so-called “cleantech.”

Since the financial success of “cleantech” seems to be heavily dependent on the dubious cap-and-trade bill now in the U.S. Senate, it seems that CalPERS is risking a lot of retiree money on a piece of legislation that may never pass and, if it does, may very well be an economic disaster — even for the rentseekers it is designed to enrich.

Calpers lost $56.2 billion during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009. So what’s another $200 million?

For more on state pension funds and global warming check out our report, Pensions in Peril: Are State Officials Risking Public Employee Retirement Benefits by Playing Global Warming Politics?

Obama’s National Caulking Program: 20+ years to break even?

July 22, 2009

President Obama’s stimulus plan to weatherize America may take more than a generation to break even — if it ever does.

States will spend an average of $6,500 to weatherize homes under the plan, according to a report in Greenwire. Eligible homes house families earning up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, about $44,000 per year for a family of four.

In Indiana, which just received the first tranche of the $132 million in caulking industry welfare coming its way, the average annual home heating cost is about $1,000.

As Obama’s caulking program hopes to reduce average home heating bills by 32 percent — or about $320 per year in Indiana — it could take more than 20 years for the program to break even.

[This space reserved for the photo-op of the Caulker-in-Chief in action!]

New White House Coffee Mug

New White House Coffee Mug

Biaswire: Dem pols don’t get money for climate?

July 22, 2009

In its article “Fossil-energy interests contribute heavily to GOP in climate fight” (July 22), Greenwire reports that,

Oil companies, electric utilities and the coal industry have poured more than $250,000 this year into the coffers of the National Republican Congressional Committee, the party’s House fundraising arm that has played a lead role in attacking Democrats who supported climate legislation.

Gee… I wonder how much Al Gore, his partners at Kleiner-Perkins and Generation Investment Management, Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms, General Electric and all the USCAP companies, the wind, solar and biofuels industries, and all the other climate/energy rentseekers have “poured” into the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — or is that not worth reporting, Greenwire?

Greens behind German technophobia

July 22, 2009

From Newsweek:

In the 1960s and 1970s, German companies and laboratories churned out futuristic technologies, from novel types of nuclear reactors to the world’s first magnetic-levitation train. In the early 1980s, Germany was one of the first countries to develop a national plan for genetics research, setting up labs in Munich, Cologne, and Heidelberg. Per capita, German scientists applied for more biotech patents than Americans did.

Yet only a few years later, German pharmaceutical companies like BASF and Bayer postponed production plans and moved much of their research abroad. Germany lost its spot at the cutting edge of biotech. One reason was the pull of a powerful new startup culture that had developed around American universities in the 1980s. But there was a more sinister reason as well: a powerful coalition of environmental activists, church leaders, politicians, and journalists mobilized fears against medical biotechnology as a dangerous meddling with nature, an attack on human dignity reminiscent of Nazi eugenics. With much of the public behind them, lawmakers tightened regulations, bureaucrats refused to grant permits, and even academic research facilities became targets of righteous protest. Today, most Germans once again accept medical biotech, but most of the industry’s leading companies are found in the U.S.

Welfare for mad scientists? AMS endorses federal funding of geoengineering

July 22, 2009

The American Meteorological Society this week endorsed federal funding of geoengineering — that is, the Society believes that taxpayers should support surplus, unemployable, over-educated madmen willing to research how best to blot out the sun and implement other bizarre schemes in hopes of  slowing climate change. Our only question is where the giant rubber-room research facility will be constructed.

California Screaming: Wind, solar lobbies to squeeze taxpayers amid budget crisis

July 22, 2009

Amid the worst budget crisis in its history, the state of California is set to make things worse at the behest of the wind and solar industries.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is set to increase the state’s so-called renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 33% by 2020, up from 20% — meaning that one-third of the electricity produced in the state must come from so-called renewable sources like wind and solar, according to a report in Restructuring Today.

To meet that standard, the utility industry will need to spend an estimated $115 billion over the next 10-plus years. Given that only about $23.5 billion in financing was available annually for renewable projects nationwide before the financial crisis, the new standard would require that California utilities obtain about 50% of available funding each year.

CARB chairman Mary Nichols, a Democrat appointed by Gov. Schwarzenegger and a former Clinton administration EPA appointee, admitted to Restructuring Today that,

It’s going to be a challenge to reach that goal without negatively impacting reliability or leading to huge cost boosts for consumers.

A California Senate consultant told Restructuring Today that since the state’s budget crisis has been “temporarily” resolved, the bill containing the new standard is likely to pass and be signed into law this September.

The new standard will essentially require that each man, woman and child in California borrow about $3,108 in principal alone to pay for it — that is, the privilege of paying higher electricity prices for no environmental gain.