Age of Transparency Update, DOE Edition

It’s a familiar-sounding story.

Sometime in the past, the Executive Branch surreptitiously met with Energy Industry interests to craft policy on energy issues. Specifically, officials of the Department of Energy met with energy lobbyists and friendly think-tankers to rebut a university study that cast the industry in a bad light. When the ranking member of the congressional committee charged with oversight in this area asked legitimate questions regarding the propriety of the arrangement, DOE gave him the Heisman treatment, trying to duck and dodge the congressman’s inquiry altogether.

According to the congressman, “…[I]t seems that Department of Energy officials are more concerned about how to spin my questions than how to answer them, … I’m not surprised that DOE is uncomfortable with these questions, since it appears the agency relied on special interest assistance to write this federally-funded report.” (Emphasis added.)

That would be Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) and the era of BushCheneyHalliburton circa 2002?

Wrong. Try August, 2009. And this time, it’s the wind energy industry. The congressman asking questions is Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), ranking member of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

The university study is the one conducted by Gabriel Calzada Álvarez at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Spain. That’s the one that concluded that Spain’s commitment to wind energy did result in new “green” jobs — at an opportunity cost to the Spanish economy of 2.2 conventional jobs per green job created. The result has been persistent unemployment in the high teens. Clearly, the Obama Administration would dearly love to spike the study.

A recent Freedom of Information Act request has uncovered internal e-mails that show the agency worked hand-in-hand with industry and advocacy groups to draft a white paper on green jobs and then sought to dodge questions about the report, said Sensenbrenner, who yesterday again asked the DOE to provide information. …

The e-mails show the report was created as a direct response to a study from Spain’s King Juan Carlos University that raised questions about the employment created from renewable energy subsidies and showed that green jobs are often temporary and highly dependent on massive government subsidies. The Union of Concerned Scientists, American Wind Energy Association and the Center for American Progress were included in DOE correspondence about the white paper, which was drafted to directly counter the media exposure and Congressional interest over the Spanish study, e-mail records show.

Rep. Sensenbrenner raises another interesting question: Since when is it DOE policy to spend money for the specific goal of refuting an economic study of a foreign university?

Further reading:

Rep. Sensenbrenner’s letter to DOE (March 3, 2010)

Bombshell: Obama Admin. Caught Red-Handed Working with Big Wind Energy Lobbyists, Misleading American People, from the Institute for Energy Research.

Cross-posted at

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