The Department of Energy’s fuel efficient vehicle and green energy loan program is back in business. You remember that spectacularly successful initiative, right? It was the one responsible for propping up companies like Fisker, Solyndra and Abound Solar. And in the end it only cost the taxpayers something in the range of three quarter of a billion dollars during the last round of “progress.” But these guys aren’t ones to let a few setbacks stand in the way of a great idea. With that in mind, it seems we’re going to give it the good old college try yet again.
[A]fter a four-year hiatus, the Energy Department has announced a new fuel-efficient-vehicle loan—a $259 million conditional award to Alcoa. It’s a pretty sweet deal: The Energy Department touts on its website how this loan program “offers attractive financing for U.S. auto industry,” including no application fees, a closing fee of just 0.1 percent, and interest rates estimated at no more than 4 percent.
Of course, one might wonder why a company like Alcoa, which brought in $23.9 billion in revenue last year, needs government (read: taxpayer) help.
But it turns out Alcoa has major Obama administration ties. One of its top executives was a major Obama bundler; another was recruited by the administration as a counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner; and the CEO serves on one of the president’s committees and has also partnered with the Obama administration on a few manufacturing initiatives.
Daniel Cruise, an Alcoa VP, was a huge Obama bundler, raising somewhere between $50K and $100K for the President’s campaigns. Jake Siewert was the Alcoa executive who wound up with a nice job working for Timothy Geithner at Treasury. Oh, and Alcoa was also one of the first members of the National Lightweight and Modern Metals Innovation Institute in Detroit. Surprise, surprise… that’s an Obama initiated program raking in $140M of taxpayer money for green initiatives.
But this is probably all just a coincidence. At least they’re working on a good cause here. Lightweight aluminum bodies for energy efficient designs and other applications certainly sound like a good start on more efficient cars and burning less carbon, right? Sure… as long as you don’t count the “carbon cost” in digging the material up in the first place.
And never mind that purifying aluminum is extremely carbon-intensive, he notes; that part of the process takes place in Australia, where U.S. environmental regulations don’t apply. In the end, Carney rightly concludes, “Alcoa’s green agenda not only costs consumers more, but it also leads to more greenhouse-gas emissions and more coal being burned — and those who oppose this agenda are demonized for selling out the planet.”
And one more time, everything old is new again. When the administration gets their teeth into an idea – even a spectacularly bad and expensive one – they don’t just let go. And when you’re handing out taxpayer cash, why not give it to someone who was particularly helpful to you during your campaign? It’s a win win… unless you happen to be the taxpayer, of course.