LA Times

Post image for Senator Dianne Feinstein Passionately Defends a Program She Voted Against

I’ve been a vehement critic of the Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program (see here and here). In a nutshell, I argue that the DOE has no business starting a bank from scratch. Even if it could cobble together the necessary expertise and infrastructure, the U.S. government has a long history of picking losers in the energy market (see: breeder reactors, synfuels).

My case against the DOE’s green bank has been made persuasively by the Government Accountability Office, the top federal watchdog. In 2007, 2008, and 2010, the GAO released reports concluding that the program is being not being run well.

My case was further made by the pending collapse of the first recipient of a loan guarantee. In September 2009, the DOE issued a $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra, a company that you may recall from reports of it being a total financial disaster. It canceled an IPO after a PriceWaterhouse Cooper audit found that the company’s shaky finances “raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern.” Evidently, Solyndra already has lost $557 million. In November, the company announced that it would shutter a plant and lay off 170 employees.

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I’ve blogged before on the LA Times’s one sided coverage of AB 32, California’s first-in-the-nation climate change mitigation law. In a nutshell, the LA Times is a big cheerleader for the legislation, with a record of publishing favorable stories and ignoring negative ones.

Case in point: Today, the Times ran an opinion piece, “A Green Jobs Generator,” by two economists who claim that their economic analysis of AB 32 is being distorted by opponents of the legislation. The LA Times allowed them the space to set the record straight, and thus its editorial page again reassured readers that “doing something” about climate change will be easy because it will reduce energy costs and create “green jobs.”  Of course, this is baloney-in fact, “doing something” about climate change will make energy more expensive and thereby kill jobs-but the LA Times has an agenda to push, so why sweat the details.

Also today, E&E ClimateWire broke the news that Larry Goulder, the lead author of a recent AB 32 economic analysis commissioned by the state, is on the board of directors of a non-profit that has given money to a political campaign to defeat a ballot initiative that would suspend AB 32. So it’s not surprising that he concluded that AB 32 would create jobs. Naturally, the LA Times covered Goulder’s favorable economic analysis when it was released a few weeks ago. But it has yet to report on his association with a pro-AB 32 political organization. Perhaps it will tomorrow, but I doubt it.

Goulder told ClimateWire that nothing is amiss, but it sure seems like a conflict of interest to me. If an Exxon staffer punched up an economic report suggesting that AB 32 would harm California’s economy, environmentalists would throw a hissy-fit. And the LA Times, no doubt, would try to discredit the report as “industry funded.”