President Obama’s declaration of dictatorial, Congress-be-damned war on “climate change” was particularly welcome to hedge-fund billionaire and megabucks Obama donor Tom Steyer. And why not? Steyer stands to make a bundle from his beloved President’s decision.
You see, President Obama seems intent on killing the Keystone XL pipeline. And what do you know? Steyer’s Farallon Capital just happens to have major holdings in a competing pipeline company called Kinder Morgan, whose TransMountain pipe is carrying tar sands oil from a different part of Canada to Asian customers. And they’re looking to expand this operation until it’s bigger than Keystone XL would be!
This bit of highly selective and convenient environmentalism has not gone unnoticed, as Fox News reports:
Louisiana Sen. David Vitter — a vocal proponent of Keystone — accuses Steyer of having financial interest in the death of a pipeline he opposes on environmental grounds.
“I think it’s hypocrisy, quite frankly,” Vitter told Fox News. “Who knows when he’s going to divest of these investments … maybe in a few months when his helping kill Keystone will boost them up to top value. … Who knows?”
Steyer stepped down as Farallon’s CEO late last year to focus on political and environmental activism. While he continues to have significant investments with Farallon, according to a spokesman, Steyer has directed the fund to “green” his portfolio and divest him of all positions in oil and coal — including Kinder Morgan.
It is unclear where he is in that process. According to Steyer spokesman Chris LeHane, “This divestment has been taking place consistent with the applicable legal requirements.”
Sounds great. Good luck with that timely divestment, Mr. Steyer! I assume all your friends, business associates, and fellow Obama donors are divesting, too…?
Along similar lines, Obama supporter Warren Buffett has publicly stated that he supports building the Keystone XL pipeline… but there’s no question that his railroad interests made a bundle because Obama thwarted construction. Words are wind, as the characters in “Game of Thrones” like to say. It’s always interesting when the big money quietly flutters in the opposite direction.
Crony corruption is nothing new in the green energy racket. Somehow the electorate was persuaded to forget about the Solyndra outrage in 2012, but a lot of Obama supporters walked away from the unbelievable serial disaster of his “green energy investments” with huge amounts of taxpayer green stuffed in their pockets. Every rational safeguard against pouring our money into absurd business models was bypassed or disabled. That public money was tossed around like confetti on the most insulting extravagances – Solyndra had “Taj Mahal” accommodations and robots that sang Disney tunes. And when the vultures of bankruptcy inevitably descended, there were deals to ensure some green crony investors got paid off ahead of taxpayers.
Obama plans to throw another few billion into these wasteful projects, and the rent-seekers are already lining up, as Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner notes the President’s new energy plan “bubbles over with corporate-government collusion”:
His climate plan rests primarily on a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that greenhouse gasses are “pollutants,” which the Environmental Protection Agency must regulate. Obama even called CO2 (the stuff you breathe out and plants breathe in) a “toxin,” in the energy plan he released Tuesday.
During the arguments in that 2007 case, energy giants Entergy and Calpine both filed amicus curiae briefs asking the court to force the EPA to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions. Calpine lobbyist Michael Brady was a special guest of Obama on Tuesday, according to National Journal, Obama’s constant anti-lobbyist rhetoric notwithstanding.
Back in 2007, Calpine’s brief rattled off a murderers row of special interests that sided with them in favor of regulation: General Electric, which spends more on lobbying than any other corporation; Exelon, so cozy with Obama that a company lobbyist once called it “The President’s utility;” Duke Energy, which underwrote Obama’s 2012 convention with $10 million in financing; and others.
Why would all these companies want EPA to regulate their emissions? Maybe they’re worried about melting polar ice caps. Or maybe they see profit in these policies. This latter possibility – which seems more likely – ought to raise doubts about how much policy will follow science, as opposed to lobbying.
For instance, a month after the Obama administration placed greenhouse-gas caps on all new power plants in 2011, the EPA’s Gina McCarthy (now in line to run the agency) announced the first plant to win an exemption – and that plant happened to be installing GE turbines. GE is not only the lobbying king, the company’s CEO is Obama’s jobs czar.
There’s more, including the next round of Solyndra-style loans for renewable energy – an industry whose most renewable attribute is the government subsidies necessary to keep it running – plus partnerships with politically savvy Big Business, and of course ethanol. It’s not really a crony-capitalist party until somebody starts pouring the ethanol.
Sometimes the naive anti-capitalist will wonder why Big Business would support policies that ostensibly hurt its interests. That’s a very easy question to answer: because it hurts their competitors more. For example, look at Carney’s account of Obama’s climate-change partners G.E. and Nike:
This is the conflation at the heart of Obamanomics: Obama points out that a few politically connected very large corporations would profit from his policies, as if that’s evidence the economy will benefit.
But GE’s windmill profits come at the expense of Americans who pay more for electricity when utilities have to buy wind power. And regulations or mandates that roll off Wal-Mart’s back can crush smaller competitors.
Obama even named Nike as one of his allies on U.S. climate policy. Does Obama realize that Nike’s manufacturing is almost all done in the Third World? Tax energy in the U.S. and you hurt Nike’s U.S.-based competitors like New Balance, while Nike hardly feels a pinprick.
Obama’s dead-parrot economy just took another hit, as first-quarter GDP growth was revised down from 2.4 percent to 1.8 percent. A big part of that drop came from decreased government spending – which is counted as part of our Gross Domestic Product, even though it has nothing to do with healthy private-sector “production.” That means big government spending was propping Obama’s numbers up long enough to get him re-elected, but the private sector is actually in even worse shape than we thought. The last thing such a weak economy needs is a boatload of increased energy costs due to madcap environmental extremism. But when political connections become the most valuable “resource” in the land, you get cronyism and corruption, not healthy economic growth and job creation.
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