It was bound to end badly

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One of the most costly government actions is the administration’s war on coal. It is the fuel for about half of the country’s electricity and one of the cheapest sources of energy.

Kelley Williams, chair, Bigger Pie Forum,  February 4, 2015 |

IT WASN’T TRUE LOVE when the green energy philanderer hooked up with the green energy pushover. You knew it wouldn’t last. It was destined to end badly. It has. The estranged parties have called in the lawyers. One set of lawyers is trying to make the pushover look like a violated innocent.  The other set is trying to make the philanderer look like he was led on. If they do their jobs, all parties will look bad. It may be embarrassing for the pushover, but probably not educational. The philanderer is beyond embarrassment. It will be expensive for taxpayers who pay for it.  And entertaining for bystanders. It’s tabloid time for KIOR.

KIOR is a green energy fantasy announced in 2010 to make diesel from pine trees.  It would use a secret fairy dust catalyst to do in a day what took Mother Nature a million years. It’s one of six wishful thinking green energy projects of the former governor.  It was facilitated by the Mississippi Development Authority with a now uncollectible $69 million interest free loan to a company with no financial substance for an unworkable plant with no collateral value. It filed for bankruptcy last year. It appears the MDA with its $2.4 billion budget exists to facilitate pet projects (whatever their merits) for the governor (whoever).  Is our state in the very best of hands, or what?

The pitch for KIOR and the other fantasies was they would create jobs – real jobs for Mississippi workers.  None have because real jobs depend on profits from a product or service that customers willingly buy in a free market.  Green energy jobs depend on government grants or subsidies or mandates or quotas or legal coercion or brain washing. Customers won’t willingly pay more for energy just because it’s green. So green energy jobs are government jobs paid for by taxpayers. But hey, they make for good press releases.

Green energy from wind, solar, and biomass (e.g., pine trees) projects is more expensive than energy from conventional coal, oil, and natural gas fossil fuels. It’s also less reliable. It’s not competitive. But still it’s good for green investors who make money even if their projects don’t. These investors tend to be big political contributors (to both parties) and therefore politically influential. KIOR reported substantial lobbying expenses during its unsuccessful startup efforts. It also reported major expenses for executive and director incentives.  One of its directors was Condoleezza Rice, the former Republican secretary of state.

Vinod Khosla is a well-known green investor from Silicon Valley.  He’s said to be a billionaire. His Khosla Ventures owns KIOR. KIOR is not his first rodeo.  So there appear to be no personal or corporate guarantees for its debt.  Guess MDA thought it impolite to ask. But not to worry, MDA has called in the attorney general who has brought in a plaintiffs law firm (just one?) to sue for fraud. Do the counts include alienation of affection?  Too bad KIOR has no recoverable assets.  Talk about closing the barn door after the fact.

Predictably, Khosla Ventures has countersued. If the lawyers do their jobs, it will drag on and on. Expect more he saids, she saids.  Maybe some revelations that might even lead to some reforms. It’s unlikely. But we can hope.

Taxpayers should also sue MDA for failing to do due diligence and for incompetence.  They should also seek to have MDA committed for insanity: repeating the same mistakes over and over and expecting different outcomes.  But that’s what you get when the agency’s metric of success is construction jobs to build unworkable plants. Why not just build pyramids? And when wishful thinking passes for the investigation and analysis that a prudent competent investor would do if spending his own money. Of course that’s the rub. It’s not their own money.  And they are not competent investors.  Neither is the governor, whoever he is.

THE ROOT CAUSE of green energy abuses is the mantra that carbon dioxide from fossil fuels causes global warming. Or climate change. Or extreme weather events. Or bad hair. Or the malady du jour, whatever it is, that justifies some government action. The mantra is false. Some say a hoax. But the government actions it justifies are so lucrative for the green lobby and green industry cronies that it doesn’t matter.

One of the most costly government actions is the administration’s war on coal. It is the fuel for about half of the country’s electricity and one of the cheapest sources of energy.  The Department of Energy’s mandated “clean coal technology” is supposed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It is experimental. It’s not guaranteed to work.  It is guaranteed to increase the cost of electricity, however.  It will further impoverish the poor and kill jobs. It already has in Mississippi Power’s service area. Its unbuildable Kemper County Lignite Plant is the poster child for this expensive experimental technology.  You would have to be brainwashed to think that the war on coal is a good idea.  You would also have to be rich.

Apparently the U.S. Senate (many rich members) has been brainwashed.  All except for one, that is.  It recently voted 99 – 1 that: “Climate change is real and is not a hoax.”  The lone no vote was our Roger Wicker.  He called it a political show vote and said further: “I agree with the more than 31,000 American scientists who do not believe the science on this matter is settled. Scientific research is advanced by asking questions and allowing for multiple viewpoints. With so much at stake –- our economy, our livelihoods, and our environment –- we should be tolerant of differences of opinion.”

Thanks, senator. For your vote. And for calling out the hypocrisy of obsessive lip service for diversity vs. the reality of efforts to prevent debate and inquiry on this issue.  Lay on.

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