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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 2, 2009 7:42 AM. The previous post in this blog was It's about time. The next post in this blog is God speed the plow. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Monday, November 2, 2009

The energy tax credit scandal

This story has got the right wing up in arms, and it ought to have the left wing pretty riled up, too. One of the reasons that the State of Oregon is broke is that its wonderful Energy Department deliberately low-balled -- and by a hilarious margin -- the cost of the state's reckless energy tax credit program when it was going through the legislature.

Everyone in Salem is denying that there was any willful fraud, except for one guy in the department who has owned up to the truth (a brave soul) and another one who quit the department a long time ago. One of those in the loudest denial is Governor Ted, who's shocked -- shocked! -- at the whole thing. This is the same guy who was stunned at the disgusting revelations about Neil Goldschmidt, to whom he owes his career and to whom he gave all sorts of official powers. There's always something terrible going on right under Ted's nose, and he never seems to notice until it's in the papers. Amazing.

The guv also vetoed a bill that would have fixed the problem. He won't be able to deny that.

A couple of decades ago, I saw a little bit of the state Energy Department from the inside. I was appointed by then-Gov. Barbara Roberts to a Hanford advisory committee. I concluded after a year or so that the whole thing was a charade. My name and time were being used to foster an image of public involvement that was far from the truth. The number 1 priority of the bureaucrats in Salem seemed to be keeping their own jobs, and number 2 was not making too many waves about Hanford, in case they might be looking for a job there themselves some day. There was a grand total of one guy in the place, a geologist, who was a straight shooter. The rest never looked you straight in the eye. I quit.

Salem's an odd burg, and Energy is one of the weirder corners. On this one, even Len Bergstein, another Goldschmidt pal, pops up -- flacking for one of the companies that's milking the taxpayers for all they're worth. This one ought to be a movie, with a scary soundtrack.

Comments (24)

This is the kind of news we need, and the kind that will be lost in the shuffle when our local papers finally go under.

Hey, this is govt, come up with an idea, jigger the numbers around to make it look like it just might work (even though they know it won't) to get it passed and then pray.

PGE Park, tram, OHSU expansion, etc. and, unfortunately, national health care.

Do you suppose the Guv ignored the problem because it stood in the way of his legacy building. I mean, this dude wants to be the Guv who started the Green Revolution in Oregon, isn't he?

First, will Kulongoski at last step out from behind his flacks and lawyers and answer tough questions from reporters in a public forum?

Second, did the companies that benefited from the tax credits contribute to Kulongoski's 2006 campaign fund, and/or the slush fund he established right after the election?

Third, what will Kroger do?

Pick a number, any number - oh wait, we don't like that number, screw with it, make it smaller. There ya go, that number will fly.

Yes, it has no connection with reality, but so, we do this all the time. Yes, that's the number we like, we'll go with that one.

The state is also not telling the truth about how much revenue will come from the higher personal and corporate taxes. They assume people will not change their actions when faced with higher rates. They called that being "conservative" when it is actually unrealistic.

Give the Oregonian credit on this one. We wouldn't be having this conversation if it weren't for some good reporting from Portland's daily.

Don't forget the most scandalous thing of all: BETC deductions can (and are) sold in an aftermarket, at a very steep discount.

So, say some ethanol or biodiesel scammer gets a big pile of BETC --- what good does it do them, they're losing money hand over fist. So they SELL the credits (at a big discount) to a more profitable business, which has made no improvements at all. Biofuels scammer pockets the cash (typically 1/3 of the credits nominal value) and big buyer deducts the whole value of the credits, thus sinking the state budget even further into the red.

Thus, we have the spectacle of energy tax credits given to industries that are WORSE for the environment than petroleum in the first place, with those credits then being essentially turned into securitized investments to help companies avoid taxes.

For the soundtrack:

Dirty Back Road
(Ricky Wilson & Robert Waldrop)

Wreckless drivin', like a sportscar
God I want you, like a fuel engine!
Energized line, like a road
You-oo-oo-oo--oo ride me-ee-ee-ee-ee
Like a road
You-oo-oo-oo--oo ride me-ee-ee-ee-ee

Foot on the peddle
Feet in the air
Sand in my hair
Oh, don't look back
Don't look behind you
Wreckless drivin' on
Dirty Back Road



"Party Out of Bounds"?

Seldes, your post solidifies why I am against the national Cap&Trade legislation now before congress. Oregon's BETC deal is the same as the national.

What also perplexes me, is the Oregonians inability to connect Sunday's article to earlier articles on solar credits that were recently given to 30 homeowners in one neighborhood here in Portland.

The O lauded the "sustainability", "green" of it all. They wrote that each homeowner was paying only $3000 to $4000 for their electrical generating solar panels. They didn't play up the fact that over 80% of the real cost ($35,000 to $40,000) was being subsidized by Fed, State, City and EcoTrust grants and tax subsidies.

Plus there's the BETC element to this neighborhood giveaway. All the rest of us are essentially paying for this neighborhood's "greenness".

Why can't the Oregonian really tell the whole story and connect the dots in all of their sustainable articles? Same goes for the Tribune and Willamette Week and Channel 2 and 8 that ran the same story and many other sustainable features.

aka Cap & Charade.

Lee, while I'm also opposed to the cap and trade concept, I don't think it's correct to say that it's the same as the BETC, which is theoretically unlimited (whereas the number of carbon credits that could theoretically be created is set by the total of emissions).

The straightforward alternative to the cap and trade foolishness is a green tax shift, reducing taxes on the things we want our economy to produce (jobs, investments, wages, earnings) and increasing taxes on the things we don't want (pollution, toxic wastes). Then there's no need for cap and trade jacking around and you don't have to create a market for funny business with selling phony offsets and all the other crap that makes the banksters salivate.

Matt Taibi in Rolling Stone called cap and trade the next great money making boondoggle for Goldman Sachs.

Maybe - just maybe - this article will wake some of the voters in Portland up when it comes to more BS from City Hall about any projects they deem to be "Green", "Sustainable", or "Eco-Friendly". All code for getting your pockets picked by a few well connected "friends" of the politicians. Isn't about time someone called out Randy Leonard on his bio-diesel and ethanol boondogles?

Goldman Sachs is a little late the party - Al Gore has been working with carbon emissions traders for several years now. Guess who benefits from the "global warming" I mean "climate change" debate there?

As for Kroger - this guy didn't have the political will to take on Samadumbs, but you really expect he will go after Klug during his lame duck year? And yes, he has been lame far more than just a year.

Nice to see the Governor at the Sanyo ceremony today, busting open that sake keg. Don't worry, your ceremonial robes will protect you from the splash.

Let's see, $40M of tax credits over five years, for an estimated 200 jobs. That's $200,000 per job, or more if they don't reach that goal.

Do you suppose that the state will see more than a small fraction of that come back before the venture fails, or they move on to the next sucker state?

What's more, photovoltaics aren't green to produce -- it takes a lot of energy, water, and harsh toxic substances to make those. That's why you need a factory to begin with. And there's waste.

Not so green after all.

That's what slays me about this whole green tech thing - making photovoltaics is a very un-green industrial process. Can you say "gallium-arsenide"?? Fits right in with Oregon's long-standing tradition of raping the environment for fun and profit.

Let's not get too technical and research too deep. Sam, Dan and Randy's staff, the Sustainable Planning Bureau staff, EcoTrust, and all the other generally young staff who may have graduated in Polysc, English Lit. or sociology and never held a job outside of government (or even a job) won't be able to follow your thinking on "sustainability".

It's a religion, just have Faith. Don't critique it.

I hate to defend these guys on anything, but this

What's more, photovoltaics aren't green to produce -- it takes a lot of energy, water, and harsh toxic substances to make those. That's why you need a factory to begin with. And there's waste.

Not so green after all.

Posted by eat them up yum | November 2, 2009 6:31 PM

That's what slays me about this whole green tech thing - making photovoltaics is a very un-green industrial process. Can you say "gallium-arsenide"?? Fits right in with Oregon's long-standing tradition of raping the environment for fun and profit.

is losing the forest for the trees. Good current PV designs are averaging 15% efficiency, with payback on the invested energy within two years -- it's a serious chunk of energy embedded in them yes, but if installed and maintained properly, PV panels will be producing power for 30 years, with 100% of the pollution generated and contained in an industrial facility where it can be addressed.

This is in a state where the plurality of our electricity comes from coal, the dirtiest form of power there is. Annually Boardman alone produces 5 million tons of CO2, on top of about a half ton of mercury, tons of NOx, SOx, a surprising amount of radionuclides (I lost the exact number), and particulates (haze) -- all pumped directly into the atmosphere.

The only problem with PV in Oregon is that the bozos in DOT are insisting on creating the "Solar Highway" on the rainy side of the state where the insolation is far less than on the east side.

Complaining about wastes from making PV in a state where coal is the biggest fuel source for electricity is like complaining that the fire department left mud all over your driveway when they put out your housefire.

There's an old New Yorker cartoon which shows a bunch of choppers and old paunchy white guys in leathers with fancy colors on the back that say, "Hell's Accountants". One of them says, "Let's run downtown and gang audit someone!" I'd like to nominate The Energy Trust of Oregon for this week's zero-notice gang audit.

Of course nothing will come of any of it. The good old boys will make sure nobody looks under those rocks. Just like all the creative uses of TIF, in Oregon, it's not a racket if the politicians meant it to fund things that don't bear scrutiny.

Auditors, frauditors:

Madoff's longtime auditor pleads guilty to fraud

Someone mentioned the ODOE thing over in the Vicki Walker thread, and I responded there, but it probably belongs here:

We have definitely set things up to fail in terms of expecting any legislative oversight. Nobody wants to think about the downside of the very part-time Legislature that we have, but this debacle should definitely count towards that tally.

When the Leg meets it's absolute bedlam, with hearings stacked upon hearings stacked upon hearings, with lobbyists being the only ones who've had any time to prepare. The schedule is so compressed that there's little or no attempt by the Leg to do any form of oversight, of to simply have any time to learn about how the last set of laws are working out.

Basically we run a very large, round-the-clock diversified business with a very part-time absentee board of directors made up of amateurs, none of whom got the seat on the board because of any particular competence in program evaluation.

George Seldes, you state that "the plurality of our electricity comes from coal". From this and your later paragraph I'm thinking that you are using "plurality" to mean the "majority". An obscure interpretation of the word.

If my take on your use of the word is correct, then coal doesn't provide over 50% of Oregon's electrical energy.

Coal provides 41% of Oregon's electricity (more than hydro) and 50% of the _region's_.


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
to be a member of:

In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
La Antigua Clásico, Rioja 2011
Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
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Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
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Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
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St. Francis, Sonoma Cabernet 2012

The Occasional Book

Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
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Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
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Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
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Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 113
At this date last year: 155
Total run in 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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