All About Sol: The Tentacles of Obama's Green Cronyism Reach Beyond the Department of Energy

Much has already been revealed about the Obama administration’s cronyism when it comes to the Department of Energy. 80% of Department of Energy green loans are tied to President Obama’s most prolific donors including the now infamous Solyndra solar panel company and the Robert Kennedy Jr connected Brightsource which also deals in solar energy.

The tentacles of President’s green cronyism extend beyond the Department of Energy though. The Navy recently launched its largest biofuel test ship as part of an effort to reduce the Department of Defense’s dependence on fossil fuels (emphasis added):

The Navy is investing more than $500 million in the budding biofuel industry with the hope that it will be able to supply enough alternative fuel so the maritime branch can cut its dependence on fossil fuel by 50 percent over the next decade, said Cmdr. James Goudreau, director of the Navy Energy Coordination Office.

The biofuel that went into the destroyer was a 50-50 blend of petroleum and a hydro-processed algal oil produced by San Francisco-based Solazyme, which has been changing the genetic makeup of algae to construct a new generation of fuels.

The US Navy reports that this roughly half a billion dollar investment is the “single largest purchase of biofuel in government history”:

Responding to that challenge, in August 2011, the Secretaries of Agriculture, Energy and Navy announced an intention to invest up to $510 million during the next three years in partnership with the private sector to produce advanced drop-in biofuel to power military and commercial transportation. While that investment awaits Congressional action, today’s announcement uses the existing authority – leveraging Defense Department procurement – to support this energy security goal.

[…]

“This historic contract is a major step forward for America’s energy security and the advanced biofuel industry in our country. Solazyme has delivered more than 360,000 liters of 100 percent algal derived renewable diesel to the U.S. Navy for their fuel certification program to date. The United States leads the world in advanced biofuel technology, and the Departments of Agriculture, Energy and the Navy have been instrumental in coming together to spur commercialization and grow our lead,” said Jonathan Wolfson, CEO, Solazyme. “We are honored to be working with the U.S. Navy and DLA-Energy in driving forward the Navy’s effort under Secretary Ray Mabus to source 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. And we are proud to be teaming up with Dynamic Fuels on this contract.”

Solazyme is not just any biofuels company, and its continued partnership with the Navy is not without crony connections. Its strategic advisor is T.J. Glauthier, Obama donor and part of President Obama’s transition team, as Solazyme’s website states (emphasis added):

TJ Glauthier is an advisor and corporate board member in the energy and “clean tech” sector. He advises companies dealing with the complex competitive and regulatory challenges in the energy sector today. He also served on President Obama’s White House Transition Team, where he focused primarily on the energy portion of the economic stimulus bill.

Glauthier’s government roots extend to the Clinton administration where he served as the Department of Energy Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer following a stint as Associate Director for Natural Resources, Energy, and Science for the White House Office of Management and Budget. Prior to being Solazyme’s strategic advisor and after his time as part of Obama’s transition team, Glauthier was part of the advisory board of SunRun, a solar financing company. SunRun provides solar financing to companies in California, Massachusetts, Colorado, Arizona, and New Jersey to make solar panels affordable for homeowners.

As Solazyme touts, Glauthier “focused primarily on the energy portion of the economic stimulus bill”. As part of the stimulus package, the Obama administration set up the 1603 Program through Treasury Department which “offers renewable energy project developers cash payments in lieu of the investment tax credit”. In October of 2010, just a few short months after Glauthier joined SunRun’s advisory board, SunRun secured a $6.73 million grant from this Treasury Department stimulus program, making in the ninth largest recipient of such programs through the December of 2010. The very bill that he focused on as part of Obama’s transition team was the very source of funding for the company he later advised. Funny how that works?

Solar panels, of course, have been shown to require a very energy intensive process to produce nearly negating any benefits from solar energies supposed renewability. The algae blend biofuels that Solazyme produces has proven to be less efficient than originally anticipated as well. A study from the University of Virginia showed that algae biofuels require more petroleum based energy to produce than other biofuels and generate more greenhouse gases. The actions of the Obama administration and connections to his crony TJ Glauthier only further confirm his willingness to reward his cronies with taxpayer dollars for junk science. Glauthier’s associated grants and funding, to the tune of more than half a billion dollars, show that the tentacles of Obama administration’s green cronyism reach beyond the Department of Energy.

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