Any time you see the words “internal memo” in a news report, you know it can't be good.
You'd think these guys in Washington would know better by now...
If you're going to do something shady, don't use email as your method of communication. Even drug dealers know better than to use email, land lines, or traceable mobile phones.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not comparing common drug dealers to politicians.
After all, drug dealers know how to support job creation in a real free market.
Laws? What Laws?
So a series of emails that were probably never meant to be shared with the public have shown that an assistant Treasury secretary told the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget that the Solyndra deal could violate federal law because it put investors' interests ahead of taxpayers' interests.
This isn't new.
You think all those ethanol subsidies didn't put investors' interests ahead of taxpayers' interests?
You think all those agricultural subsidies don't put investors' interests ahead of taxpayers' interests?
You think all those “clean coal” subsidies don't put investors' interests ahead of taxpayers' interests?
Hell, just last month the DOE awarded $14 million to six carbon capture projects — $14 million at a time when they're supposedly getting tough on spending.
Meanwhile, the $4 billion welfare check for the oil & gas industry every year is still getting cut...
Interestingly, while the Obama administration's Solyndra scandal is making the rounds on all the cable news shows, we haven't heard much about another scandal coming out of the White House. And this one is connected to a $13 billion project.
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A Very Cozy Relationship
The Keystone XL pipeline that will one day move millions of barrels of oil from Western Canada to the Gulf Coast is going to happen despite valid environmental concerns — some of which revolve around running the pipeline over a major aquifer that supplies drinking and irrigation water to large areas of several different states.
Regardless, the pipeline is pretty much a done deal. Because no matter how you slice it, our very dangerous reliance on foreign oil will always trump the wants and desires of environmentalists.
I don't say this to be antagonistic; it's just the reality that we've created.
That being said, just like every deal that's ever been done between Big Oil and Big Government, some bureaucrat is getting a piece of the action.
Turns out one of TransCanada's high-priced lobbyists was once a staffer on Hillary Clinton's presidential run. And guess who has the final word on whether or not to approve the Keystone XL pipeline?
That's right, Hillary Clinton and the State Department.
But wait, there's more...
Employees from an outside lobbying firm called McKenna Long & Aldridge, which worked for TransCanada, donated more than $41,000 to Clinton's 2008 campaign.
Then there's another lobbyist from the same firm — one that was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve as Chief of Staff to Gordon Giffin when he was the U.S. ambassador to Canada: Maryscott Greenwood officially lobbied on TransCanada's behalf until 2008 on U.S. pipeline permit policy.
And we can't ignore DLA Piper, whose employees and PACs contributed more than $480,000 to Hillary Clinton's 2008 run. This was the single largest source of funding for a corporate entity to Clinton.
And DLA Piper partner James Blanchard sits on the board of Enbridge, a major tar sands pipeline company. You may recall Enbridge, as this was the company that spilled about 20,000 barrels of tar sands oil into Michigan's Kalamazoo River last year (and as of today, still hasn't submitted cleanup plans for 2012)...
Look, I'm not bringing this up because I have a problem with tar sands operations and continuing our unsustainable reliance on oil.
(Though I do think the nation would be better served by developing cleaner sources of fuel and alternatives to the very outdated internal combustion engine.)
Nonetheless, the world's quest for oil will not be stopped. Those tar sands operations will be developed, and that oil will be moved one way or another.
And the growth in alternative forms of transportation fuels and power generation will also continue, and at a much faster rate than fossil fuels. The basic fundamentals of resource depletion will see to that.
Yet even with our oil reliance as strong as ever — and our development of alternatives an absolute necessity if we have any hope of maintaining our very fortunate way of life in a post-peak world — our lawmakers continue to create this illusion that it is their influence, and not an honest free market, that will dictate progress.
It is this very illusion that allows for some very lucrative relationships.
Scandals Breed Panic, Panic Breeds Profits
Well-publicized or not, cozy relationships between corporate interests and Washington are nothing new.
I don't care if it's GE or Halliburton, TransCanada or Solyndra — if a deal's getting done, it's getting done because palms were greased and favors were exchanged.
And no matter how many “internal memos” are exposed or how many investigations launched, the government will still make bad decisions with your money. The power brokers and gatekeepers will get their winks, nods, and a few wrist-slaps here and there, and the same cycle of backroom deals and bad decisions will continue.
Now was this Solyndra mess a Watergate-sized scandal? Probably not.
Has it helped facilitate a panic-stricken run from solar stocks? You better believe it.
And nothing puts me in a better mood than panic-stricken sellers dumping their insanely cheap shares in my lap...
The solar market is bearing gifts, my friends. They're called buying opportunities.
And while we may not be able to stop the Washington machine from spending our tax dollars like drunken rappers on a music video shoot, we can still grow and protect our wealth.
We have to. It's the only way we'll be able to survive a global economic meltdown in a post-Peak world.
To a new way of life, and a new generation of wealth...
Editor, Energy and Capital