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Indy Star Columnist Dan Carpenter: “Spinning our own Solyndra in Indiana” December 1, 2011

Posted by Laura Arnold in Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Uncategorized.
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Original article: http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2011111270324

4:13 PM, Nov. 25, 2011

Written by Dan Carpenter

The distinguished columnist George Will, a gushing admirer of our own Gov. Mitch Daniels, recently joined the conservative chorus denouncing the Obama administration’s financial backing of the ill-fated Solyndra green-energy project.

“Crony capitalism,” he called it, noting that it involved a former Obama campaign operative ensconced in the Department of Energy, whose wife is with Solyndra’s law firm.

Progressives like this sort of government meddling in the market, Will sniffed, when in fact it “is not just susceptible to corruption, it is corruption. It is political favoritism with a clean (even green) conscience.”

Indeed. Those lascivious liberals, lavishing taxpayer money on high-risk gambles from which their friends can richly gain and cannot lose.

If the man Will wishes had run for president were not responsible for it, he might have included among his exhibits Indiana Gasification LLC.

I’m not the first to dub this venture Daniels’ Solyndra, and I’m certainly not smart enough to predict disaster for it. But examine the markings.

At Daniels’ behest, and with the blessing of the credibility-challenged Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, the state has promised to shell out $7 billion over 30 years to buy the output of a yet-to-be-built $2.65 billion plant that would make synthetic gas out of coal. The hope is that coal prices fall in the future and natural gas prices rise, making this greenish fuel a bargain. Meanwhile, “hundreds” of jobs — not thousands, for all those billions — will result, Daniels proclaims.

The state is wagering on this little-tested technology because private money — utilities and banks — ran the other way.

The New York company the state is bankrolling has, as its chief Indiana executive, Mark Lubbers, the governor’s former chief of staff and longtime political teammate.

Whether these men have been scrupulous stewards of the public purse will not be known for sure in my lifetime; but I can guarantee they’re not libertarians.

Billions to Lubbers’ Leucadia Corp., billions to the horrendously destructive make-work extension of I-69, billions that would have been foisted on Duke Energy ratepayers if consumer activists and the news media had not exposed that company’s orgy of crony capitalism with the IURC — talk about your big government bedfellowship.

Before he wrote a book condemning President Barack Obama’s Washington for sending our grandchildren down a red river to socialism, Daniels was busy writing the book on grand gestures with the people’s money. To be sure, he has a lot of co-authors, in both political parties; not the least of them the Obama folks, whose stimulus funds have enabled Indiana to skate through the post-meltdown years with its fiscal responsibility image intact and George Will-praiseworthy.

Like Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Daniels will defend the state’s friends as honorable experts and the state’s gambles as necessities of the market. Unlike some pundits, I won’t play favorites with the label “crony capitalism.” Since I’m not going to be at the table, I just hope they get some lucky rolls with my chips.

Carpenter is Star op-ed columnist. Contact him at (317) 444-6172 or at dan.carpenter@indystar.com.



1. Chris Striebeck - December 1, 2011

Regardless of party allegiance, the hypocrisy of these pundits and politicians is beyond the pale!

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