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‘Green’ Lobbyist Who Shaped Energy Dept. Policy Hired by Bailed Out Bank. Hmmm.

At what point does this sort of admission warrant investigation by Congress?

by
Christopher Horner

Bio

February 9, 2011 - 12:15 am

Last week, E&E Publishing (subscription required) ran this item:

The president and co-founder of the American Council on Renewable Energy announced his resignation today so he can lead Citigroup’s environmental strategy desk.

Michael Eckhart, president of the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, helped mold ACORE — born in a 2001 brainstorming breakfast with three colleagues — into one of the alternative energy industry’s chief interest groups.

“Eckhart and the ACORE membership also helped design the Department of Energy grant programs” that partly offset the loss of tax equity financing arrangements. The tax equity financing schemes had been Wall Street’s main vehicle for bankrolling large wind and solar power plants, but they became moot when major losses …

At what point does this sort of admission warrant some investigation by Congress? I know it’s just a group representing 650 companies writing a federal program from which they would benefit. Lobbyists writing policies and all that. But, still.

And why did Goldman Sachs or Government Electric ever let this guy get away? One reason may be that bailout recipient Citi’s hire is, shall we say, a curious fellow — he has a history of threatening people in a manner that calls his disposition into question. (I detailed some of Eckhart’s bizarre behavior in my book Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud and Deception to Keep You Misinformed.)

His fanatical, written rants against two of my colleagues (Fred Smith, Ph.D. and Marlo Lewis, Ph.D.) presented an outstanding example of the liberal environmentalist pathology: he begins by dogmatically declaring a statement to be an unquestionable truth — along with a complete refusal to consider the merits of the arguments raised against it — then he proclaims the existence of a conspiracy among the evil polluting oil companies, refusing to accept any possibility of good faith fueling an opposing stance. Finally, he threatens investigation of people daring to express disagreement with you and your agenda by the Internal Revenue Service, an obscure scientific honors society, and … “the Harvard community.” Okaaaay.

This is the new public face of Citi. Way to go, guys!

While ACORE is a band of Music Man businesses and deep-pocketed backers if ever there was one, Citi’s substance people have long produced research articulating the economic and financial boondoggle promoted by Eckhart’s longtime patrons. For example, a 28-page research paper released by Citi in September — “The €1trn Euro Decade — Revisited Costs up, risks up, but governments are still in denial” — repeated the company’s warnings about the renewables mandates. It concluded:

Conclusion — the even if’s

Even if — the Utility companies had the appetite to spend €938bn they don’t have the organizational capacity to do so;

Even if — they had the organizational capacity to spend the money the supply chain couldn’t provide the equipment;

Even if — the supply chain could provide the equipment the Utility companies don’t have the balance sheet to finance the investment;

Even if — the Utility companies could raise the equity they wouldn’t be able to afford the cost; and

Even if — the Utilities could finance the investment, the consumer wouldn’t be able to afford their bills.

Huh.

This Associated Press headline from the weekend – “Green energy funds are testing investors’ patience” — provides some insight. Maybe Citi didn’t fully take its own advice, and is stuck with a bunch of these “clean energy economy” pooches. So, like Goldman and Deutsche Bank, they badly need to talk their own book to pump some phony, taxpayer-funded — and therefore temporary and wasteful — life into their picks.

Dunno. But there’s got to be some reason for hiring someone like this. A company so steeped in requirements of due diligence can’t have missed his record.

I just hope he ends up saying something as part of this new gig along the lines of “we’ll create all sorts of jobs if we underwrite these basket cases.” Because when not banging away loopy diatribes at his keyboard, he’s also been busy popping off with video cameras present, saying that that ain’t so. I think more such comments would lead to a healthy discussion.

Again, way to go, Citi. How did you ever find yourself in a position needing a bailout?

Christopher Horner is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and author of the recently-published The Liberal War on Transparency: Confessions of a Freedom of Information "Criminal".
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