In the Pipeline: 2/24/11

Since it would be too awkward for President Obama to give George Soros money directly, they’ve agreed George would start a clean energy company and Obama would launder the money through subsidies Wall Street Journal (2/23/11) reports: Two of the biggest names in the investing world are teaming up to wager on clean energy…George Soros’s Soros Fund Management LLC and private-equity firm Silver Lake are starting Silver Lake Kraftwerk, which will invest in growing companies in the energy and resource sectors. The fund will aim to profit by using technology innovations to improve energy efficiency and waste processing and to modernize global power grids and other areas…The amount the two will invest in the new company wasn’t disclosed…The fund will have dual headquarters in Silicon Valley, Calif., and China and be led by Adam Grosser, who spent a decade as general partner at venture-capital firm Foundation Capital. Mr. Grosser had been working in recent months to launch his own firm…For Silver Lake, which has specialized in technology-related investments, the effort represents a new focus on energy and resource sectors. “We will target growth-stage companies with proven technologies and business models,” said Greg Mondre, a Silver Lake managing director….”Developing alternative sources of energy and achieving greater energy efficiency is both a significant investment opportunity and environmental imperative,” Mr. Soros said. His hedge fund with invest in the venture.

The man who couldn’t figure out his taxes reassures taxpayers that they can afford higher gas prices Bloomberg (2/23/11) reports: The risk of higher fuel prices is that they may leave consumers less to spend on other goods, hurt corporate profits and force central banks to raise borrowing costs to curb price increases…U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said the economic recovery has put the world on a better footing to withstand the increase in oil prices caused by turmoil in the Middle East…“The economy is in a much stronger position to handle” rising oil prices, Geithner said today during a Bloomberg Breakfast in Washington. “Central banks have a lot of experience in managing these things.”…Political turmoil in Libya, holder of Africa’s largest oil reserves, will add “stagflationary winds” to the global economy, according to Mohamed El-Erian, chief executive officer at Pacific Investment Management Co. Protests in Libya pose more “systemic” risk to the global economy than the upheaval in Egypt and Tunisia, El-Erian said in a Bloomberg Television interview yesterday…Geithner also said the U.S. financial system is in better shape than before the recession and is able to provide the funding needed for the expansion…“The core of the American financial system is in a much stronger position than it was before the crisis,” he said. “We’re way ahead of any other major economy.”

Bitter-Sweet — No permits can be issued if the government shuts down over the budget debate New York Times (2/22/11) reports: As lawmakers struggle to pass a spending bill before current federal funding runs out next week, observers warn that a government shutdown could severely hamper land management agencies and the people and businesses they support… Failure to extend funding could mean furloughs for tens of thousands of agency employees and lead to the closure of national parks, the loss of regional tourism dollars and the cessation of permitting for oil and gas drilling, mining, recreation and other public land uses…The last time the federal government shut down in 2005 and 2006, for example, the National Park Service was forced to close 368 sites and turn away a reported 7 million visitors, according to a September 2010 report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS). Monuments and national museums also shut down, the report found.

Is it really a desert squirrel we are fighting over or is it that greenies don’t like any form energy? New York Times (2/23/11) reports: Just weeks after regulators approved the last of nine multibillion-dollar solar thermal power plants to be built in the Southern California desert, a storm of lawsuits and the resurgence of an older solar technology are clouding the future of the nascent industry…The litigation, which seeks to block construction of five of the solar thermal projects, underscores the growing risks of building large-scale renewable energy plants in environmentally delicate areas. On Jan. 25, for instance, Solar Millennium withdrew its 16-month-old license application for a 250-megawatt solar station called Ridgecrest, citing regulators’ concerns over the project’s impact on the Mohave ground squirrel…At peak output, the five licensed solar thermal projects being challenged would power more than two million homes, create thousands of construction jobs and help the state meet aggressive renewable energy mandates. The projects are backed by California’s biggest utilities, top state officials and the Obama administration.

Live Free or Die: NH votes to pull out of Northeast cap and tax scheme — hold the champagne, Dem. Gov. says he’ll veto Bloomberg (2/23/11) reports: A bill pulling New Hampshire out of the U.S. Northeast carbon cap-and-trade program advanced in the Republican-led state House…The House of Representatives voted 240-108 for a bill that would remove New Hampshire from the 10-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative at the end of this year, according to the legislature’s website…The bill passed the House Committee on Science Technology and Energy on Feb. 15. Today’s vote sent the bill to the House Finance Committee. It must be brought back for a House vote before being sent to the state Senate…Governor John Lynch, a Democrat, said Feb. 10 he’ll oppose the Republican effort to pull the state out of the regional program, which regulates carbon dioxide from power-plant smokestacks.

Green Sprawl: Obama Administration wants to cover CA desert with solar panels; sadly, that land is sacred to Native Americans Los Angeles Times (2/23/11) reports: The Native American group La Cuna de Aztlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle, which Figueroa founded, has joined with environmentalists in a federal lawsuit to block six mammoth solar projects approved by the Department of the Interior…The projects targeted include BrightSource Energy’s 3,600-acre solar facility in San Bernardino County’s Ivanpah Valley, where work began in October, and Solar Millennium’s proposed 5,900-acre solar thermal project eight miles west of Blythe, abutting the geoglyph-covered mesa…The lawsuit, filed in December, accuses the Bureau of Land Management of fast-tracking the solar projects without the required environmental review and without consulting with Native American tribes that oversee the preservation of sites with religious and cultural significance. The federal agency disregarded its formal agreement to consult with La Cuna to protect sacred sites that may be impacted by projects on bureau-controlled lands, Figueroa said…Cory Briggs, the lead attorney for the groups that filed that lawsuit, said the Obama administration raced to approve solar projects in California before the Dec. 31 deadline for economic-stimulus funding. The stimulus package offered generous subsidies for renewable energy projects approved before the deadline.


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