On Monday, Hillary Clinton, the presumed front-runner for the 2016 Democratic nomination for President and noted environmentalist, unveiled a “Climate Plan” that she claims would help foment the rise of solar power as a cheap and effective alternative to fossil fuels, thus combating “Climate Change.”
Her choice of solar power, though, as a leading fuel technology is mystifying to some, as solar has seen its share of recent instability. After a two-year skid, which saw some solar stocks decline by up to 20% because of rapidly decreasing crude oil prices, solar is just now evening out. And even then, that’s thanks to investors who picked up the stocks at bargain basement prices, on speculation that the industry, rife with government funding unconnected to evidence of success, would continue to flow. As of 2012, according to the CBO, alternative energy companies received $24 billion in federal support, including $20.5 billion in special tax rates, tax credits and grants, and $3.5 in spending, through the Department of Energy.
It turns out, of course, that Hillary Clinton is targeting solar for just that reason – some her most ardent supporters are primary investors in major solar energy companies and connected to major environmental policy shops – and her “Climate Plan” would heavily benefit “Big Green” and it’s policy affiliates.
Hillary Clinton’s plan to dramatically boost U.S. solar power production and installation could benefit a number of companies that have paid or donated to various arms of the former secretary of state’s expansive political network.
Leading solar panel manufactures and installers have donated to the Democratic presidential candidate’s family foundation, employed members of her inner circle, bankrolled a group providing policy advice to her campaign, and enlisted the services of lobbying and public relations firms run by her top supporters.
The solar industry will see a major boost if Clinton is elected and enacts her newly unveiled climate and energy policy plan. Released on Monday, the plan calls for a seven-fold increase in solar power capacity by 2020.
Much of the “boondoggle-to-be” can likely be traced back to Clinton ally Jon Podesta, a founding member of the Center for American Progress, recruited for the organization specifically for his connections to other Clinton allies. Podesta was instrumental in getting George Soros, among other anchor donors, to underwrite millions in startup costs for CAP, even as Democratic “big money” donors were moving away from the concept of financing think tanks. Podesta served as CAP’s President until 2013.
It seems to be no coincidence, then, that Clinton’s “green strategy” is the work of major environmental policymakers at the Center for American Progress. Clinton’s track record on environmentalism is shaky, earning, initially, support only from the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund (which, of course, features at least one CAP environmental policy group alumni, Senior VP Daniel Weiss, in its administration, and shares at least one board member with CAP).
And it also seems to be no coincidence that Clinton’s green strategy, were it to be enacted, would greatly benefit some of the Center for American Progress’s top donors.
Clinton’s climate strategy would likely benefit solar companies such as First Solar, whose donations to the Center for American Progress came under scrutiny after the policy group actively promoted the company’s positions on key legislative issues.
“First Solar gave money to CAP and CAP’s staff advocated for First Solar before Congress and in articles on CAP’s website without disclosing that pertinent piece of information,” wrote the Nation’s Ken Silverstein in a 2013 story about the group’s corporate supporters.
More recent corporate donors to the group include the Albright Stonebridge Group a political intelligence firm founded by Madeline Albright, the former secretary of state, that boasts of its ability to connect businesses to Washington power-brokers.
Albright Stonebridge represented First Solar in its efforts to secure a contract with the Chinese government to build a huge solar plant in Inner Mongolia. And the Free Beacon turned up evidence that Wendy Sherman, who worked at Albright Stonebridge, and is close with Hillary Clinton, has also worked closely with First Solar as a consultant.
And then, there’s the donations First Solar has made to the Clinton Foundation, between $25,000 and $50,000. NRG Energy, also a major solar energy company, gave to the Clinton Foundation, as well. Podesta also has ties to other solar energy companies, including Elon Musk’s SolarCity, which hired Podesta’s firm to lobby on its behalf.
Much is frequently made about “dark money” in political campaigns, often as a critique of major donors to Republican candidates, looking for corporate handouts in return for their financial fecundity, but Big Green is very closely aligned with the political process as well, giving, as demonstrated, thousands in carefully placed donations, in an effort to prime future administrations to keep government funds flowing, even to alternative energy sources that the market has clearly indicated are economically – if not environmentally – unsustainable.