Obama’s algae racket
by Michelle Malkin
Pond scum stinks. And so do the Obama administration’s enormous, taxpayer-funded “investments” in politically connected biofuel companies. While the president embarks on a green rehabilitation tour this week to quell growing public outrage about big green boondoggles, the White House continues to cultivate a cozy algae racket.
Obama’s promotion of algae as a fuel source at a campaign speech in Miami last month caught the nation’s attention. But algae companies have been banking on administration support from Day One. In December 2008, when the White House announced the nomination of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the CEO of Florida-based biofuels startup Algenol, Paul Woods, exulted to Time magazine: “You see this smile on my face? It’s not going away. Everyone is really excited by this.”
Yet another algae-based biofuels developer, Sapphire Energy, has absorbed $105 million in stimulus funds and loan guarantees even as doubts about the practicality, efficiency and viability of pond-scum fuels multiply. Sapphire’s CEO, Jason Pyle, has donated exclusively to Democratic campaigns, candidates and committees — and his company’s website reads like a satellite White House communications office:
— “President Obama Announces $14 Million Funding Opportunity To Develop Transportation Fuels from Algae”;
— “President Obama’s Secure Energy Blueprint — Industry Reaction”;
— “Obama Defends Energy Policy, Hitting Back At Presidential Candidates.”
Another prominent DOE recipient in the world of blue-green sludge? San Francisco-based Solazyme. The manufacturer of algae-based renewable fuels has scooped up more than $21 million in federal stimulus grants and contracts. Solazyme’s ties to the White House and the Democratic establishment in Washington are myriad. As blogger J.E. Dyer at HotAir.com (which I founded in 2006 and sold in 2010) reported in December, Solazyme’s “strategic advisers” include TJ Glauthier — a member of the Obama presidential transition team who just happened to work “on the energy-sector portion of the 2009 stimulus bill.”
Andrew Stiles of the Washington Free Beacon writes that Glauthier:
“serves on the board of EnerNOC Inc., a company that provides demand-response services to electric utility firms. EnerNOC won a $10 million contract with the Department of Energy Resources in 2010 despite being underbid by competitors, the Boston Herald reported. Glauthier also served on the board of SunRun, a solar financing company that received a $6.7 million federal grant in 2010.”
And in total, Glauthier adds, “Solazyme officials including Glauthier have contributed at least $360,000 to Democrats since 2007.”
Wait, that’s not all. The head of Solazyme’s Washington lobbying office is Drew Littman, former chief of staff for Democratic Sen. Al Franken. Littman’s old pal, entrenched D.C. lobbyist and Obama appointee Michael Meehan, feted Littman earlier this year and bragged that “we couldn’t be more thrilled to be working on a daily basis with Drew and the Solazyme team.” [NOTE: Michael Meehan e-mailed this afternoon: “I am not and never have been a registered lobbyist…VennSquared Communications does do PR work for Solazyme, we just don’t lobby.”]
Thanks to one of President Obama’s executive orders, Solazyme secured a $12 million contract with the U.S. Navy to unload hundreds of thousands of gallons of biofuel — priced at an estimated four to seven times the normal cost of regular jet fuel.
This self-sustaining crony ecosystem, powered by administrative fiat and wealth redistribution, gives new meaning to the phrase “green crude.”