Nov 01

Harry Esteve of The Oregonian reports:

State officials deliberately underestimated the cost of Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s plan to lure green energy companies to Oregon with big taxpayer subsidies, resulting in a program that cost 40 times more than unsuspecting lawmakers were told, an investigation by The Oregonian shows.

Records also show that the program, a favorite of Kulongoski’s known as the Business Energy Tax Credit, has given millions of dollars to failed companies while voters are being asked to raise income taxes because the state budget doesn’t have enough to pay for schools and other programs.

The incentives are now under intense scrutiny at the Oregon Department of Energy, which is scrambling to curb their skyrocketing costs.

What’s the Business Energy Tax Credit?

A renewable energy company can receive a credit on its Oregon taxes worth half the cost of building a new facility, up to a limit of $10 million, or $20 million for solar manufacturers.

The credits are better than tax deductions — $1 of tax credit means $1 less paid in taxes. If a company has little or no tax liability, the credits can be sold at a discount to another Oregon taxpayer.

Energy officials were worried about the impact on the state budget in 2006, when Kulongoski and his staff proposed a dramatic boost in tax breaks to woo wind and solar companies to Oregon — upping the subsidies from a high of $3.5 million per project to as much as $20 million.

According to documents obtained under Oregon’s public records law, agency officials estimated in a Nov. 16, 2006, spreadsheet that expanding the tax credits would cost taxpayers an additional $13 million in 2007-09. But after a series of scratch-outs and scribbled notes, a new spreadsheet pared the cost to $1.8 million. And when energy officials handed their final estimate to the Legislature in February 2007, they pegged the added cost at just $1.2 million for the first two years and $4.1 million for 2009-11.

The higher estimates were never shown to lawmakers. Current and former energy staffers acknowledged a clear attempt to minimize the cost of the subsidies.

“I remember that discussion. Everyone was saying, yes, this is going to be a huge (budget) hit,” recalled Charles Stephens, a former analyst for the Energy Department who left in 2006. “The governor’s office was saying, ‘No, we need a smaller number.’”

Dave Barker, an analyst who is still with the agency, told The Oregonian that the initial cost estimates started high but got lower after he was told by his superiors to plug in smaller figures.

“What I would hear pretty consistently was, ‘We want to keep it conservative,’” Barker said.

The official estimates turned out to be absurdly low. In 2007-09, the business tax credit cost the state $68 million, of which about $40 million can be attributed to the bigger subsidies. The latest estimate for 2009-11 puts the tab for subsidies at $167 million in lost revenue, which is projected to grow to $243 million for 2011-13 — about what Oregon spends now from its general fund on the entire state police budget.

Is this about a sincere and urgent need to “save the planet”? Or to lower the earth’s temperature a fraction of a degree? Heck no, it’s just part of Gov. Kulongoski’s selfish and opportunistic effort to build his green legacy:

The program has become the centerpiece of Kulongoski’s legacy-making effort to turn Oregon into a center for environmentally friendly industry.

Read it all at The Oregonian.

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May 27

Earlier today on The Glenn Beck Program’s Spotlight on Science:

GLENN: We’re going to do a control case, here, just a little control case. Just hypothetically speaking here on a control case. Hypothetically speaking, a Republican, a Republican chairperson, Republican chairperson of, let’s say an energy and commerce chair decides to present a bill and for fun let’s say it’s a global warming bill, and in this Republican global warming bill let’s say that it was close to 1,000 pages long and it is of, quote, the utmost importance, even quote, especially if we, you know, hate mongers actually care about the planet. Remember, hypothetically you care about the planet, and this is the utmost we’ve got to pass this bill. Let’s just say that that Republican chairperson was confronted with a detail from the bill that he wrote. He was the author. Remember, he was the author. So now let’s say that this author of a global warming bill that is of the utmost importance to save the Earth forgot some of the information in it. Would this oversight by a Republican chairperson on a bill which he authored be considered acceptable by the Democrats or the Republicans? I’m going to go with big fat no on that one. But for fun let’s say this whole situation hypothetically was a Democratic chairperson of the energy and commerce committee who wrote the bill, wasn’t aware of its contents, instead blindly followed the scientists from the United Nations. Yeah, but that would never happen, right?

VOICE: Before I ask the question to counsel, did you know that was in this bill?

VOICE: Are you asking me?

VOICE: Yes, sir.

VOICE: Well, I certainly don’t claim to know everything that’s in this bill. I know that we left it to we relied very heavily on the scientists, on the IPCC and others and the consensus that they have that there is a problem of global warming, it’s having an impact and that we need to try to reduce it by the amounts that they think we need to achieve in order to avoid some of the consequences. That’s what I know, but I don’t know the details.

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May 27

Politiken reports:

The global climate challenge may have been on the daytime agenda during the recent World Business Summit climate conference in Copenhagen, but in the evenings many businessmen, politicians and civil servants are reported to have availed themselves of the capital’s prostitutes.

“We’ve been extremely busy. Politicians also need to relax after a long day,” says ‘Miss Dina’, herself a prostitute.

Good for the economy

Nyhedsbrevet 3F called various escort agencies and prostitutes to hear whether they had been busier than normal during the climate conference – and all agreed; summits in Copenhagen are good for the economy.

Dorit Otzen, who leads Reden International says that major events in Copenhagen attract more sex workers.

“A lot of men in one place means more work for prostitutes.

Hat tip: Drudge

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