Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Son of Solyndra? Green Groups See Red Over DOE Boondoggle Energy Loan Guarantee Plan

No one yet is calling it the "Son of Solyndra." 

But green groups, both national and local, are furious about a proposed U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee program ostensibly designed to promote "green" energy projects. 

Last month, DOE re-launched the multi-billion dollar loan guarantee program which had been pretty quiet in recent years following earlier controversies. "We're back in business," as one DOE official told Reuters.  But the revived program, ostensibly designed to support projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gases, is facing flak -- not so much (yet) from predictable conservative groups, but from green groups who believe some of the potential projects could actually undermine the Obama Administration's goals. Green groups are particularly upset about federal money going to support garbage and biomass burning.

The public comment period on the program closed yesterday, and green groups have filed a series of blistering letters in opposition.

One letter -- from more than 130 national, international and regional groups including Sierra Club, Earthjustice,  Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace -- argues that the program could underwrite climate and community-damaging technologies... We urge that DOE set objective, science-based standards for what greenhouse gas reduction means, and in doing so, make it clear that so-called "waste-to-energy" projects and most, if not all, biofuels projects, are ineligible for Section 1703 loan guarantees.

Here is the whole letter:
for more on this, contact Mike Ewall of the Energy Justice Network, 215-436-9511 email )

A separate letter from New York-based organizations -- including NYPIRG, Environmental Advocates of New York, and NRDC -- notes prior controversies over garbage burning and biomass projects in New York State.  The letter expressed

strong opposition to including garbage incineration among the technologies eligible for federal loan guarantees...

garbage incineration does not avoid, reduce or sequester anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases, in fact it is more polluting than coal on a per megawatt basis. Industry claims that incinerators release less greenhouse gas emissions than landfills are based on a number of false assumptions...

There is absolutely no justification for including MSW waste-to-energy in a program designed to support clean and renewable energy technologies. Our groups support federal investments in energy projects that are truly clean. We should not be targeting our tax-payer backed federal loan guarantees to prop up polluting, dangerous, and inefficient technologies.

The full letter is at  For more: Laura Haight, email


A third and somewhat more technically detailed letter assails biomass burning and is informed by an earlier analysis by the Partnership for Policy Integrity of the so-called Taylor wood and garbage gasification facility.  There are some excellent and illustrative graphics in this letter.

When we reviewed Taylor’s application to DOE, we found significant errors, misstatements, and discrepancies. We discuss the Taylor facility in this letter because we think it is emblematic of the highly speculative and risky nature of technology that has been encouraged by DOE’s loan program, and which will continue to be encouraged, unless DOE defines the program to only promote technologies that reduce emissions in reality, as opposed to reducing them on paper... Increased biomass burning will increase emissions...Claimed benefits from expanded waste burning are not borne out in reality.

The full letter is at
For more on this :
Mary S. Booth, PhD 
Director, Partnership for Policy Integrity | landline: 413-253-3256 | mobile: 917-885-2573

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