That sound you hear from Maine is Sen. Angus King (I-ME) breaking wind – for gas.
King has spent his career making money off championing the use of wind for energy, and used to decry the use of natural gas, but somehow this year King has jumped to a new position exhorting the public about the wonders of natural gas. Why? Could this be another of King’s policy positions designed to enrich him?
Our story begins with the time when King first dabbled in green energy, a time when he worked for Swift River, an alternative energy company, and spearheaded a project to rehab a dam in Bangor. The project was sacked by regulators in order to protect Atlantic salmon. King claimed that people told him he should look into wind instead: “I was told in that period to ‘quit ruining our rivers, why don’t you do windmills?'”
King paid attention. After being laid off by Swift River, he founded Northeast Energy Management in 1989. He brokered government contracts where, in his own words, half the advice he gave involved changing light fixtures. He faced criticism for the business model and its bilking of ratepayers through cushy government contracts:
Energy consultant Gordon Weil: “Under the way it was structured, he was probably the principal beneficiary. He didn’t do anything wrong, but I think he got too much money out of this compared to what the customers got.”
King sold the company in January 1994 to a Massachusetts-based competitor and personally netted $8 million after taxes, giving him the money to run for governor. Hydro power was waning in popularity, so King, who had championed hydro power in the 1980’s, signed a bill to require that 30 percent of energy in Maine come from “renewable resources.” Working with the extremist environmental group Natural Resources Council of Maine, he removed the Edwards Dam, paving the way for wind. As Kay Mann, publisher of Greenenergymaine.com asserted, “We did not have a lot of wind power infrastructure built in Maine before that law.”
When King’s successor, Gov. Baldacci excluded large hydro dams from the King law’s definition of “renewable energy”, King boasted, “Maine can be the Saudi Arabia of wind.” Meanwhile King was destroying Maine’s mountaintops and leveraging his political clout to secure $102 million in federal loans through Obama’s stimulus program–under the same section as the notorious Solyndra.
But now King has switched to natural gas:
“Natural gas is America’s second chance. It gives us an opportunity…I don’t think it’s possible to overestimate the potential natural gas has, particularly for manufacturing.”
“Natural gas is America’s second chance. The price of natural gas today…gives us an unparalleled opportunity to get off of oil, get off of coal, and to lower the price of everything in our society…” (Sen. Angus King (I-ME), E2 Tech Council Debate, 9/13/12)
But only a year ago he was wrote an op-ed on the evils of natural gas! Why, Angus, why?
According to King’s Personal Financial Disclosure (attached) he filed with the U.S. Senate, he is being paid at least $25,000 by natural gas engineering firm Woodard & Curran to sit on their Board of Directors. King has also taken over $1,000 in campaign contributions from half of the other Board members of the company.
Despite his aw-shucks demeanor, King is one slick operator. Will the people of Maine elect a Senator who sells them out for his own self-aggrandizement?