Obama Commerce pick awarded $1.37 billion in 'stimulus funds' for another risky solar plant
© 2011 WND
Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, President Obama and John Bryson at White House announcement of Bryson's nomination to succeed Locke (Screen shot from WhiteHouse.gov video)
President Obama's nominee for Commerce secretary served as chairman of the board of a solar energy company that recently received a $1.37 billion federal loan guarantee – the largest the Department of Energy has ever given for a solar power project.
Now that company, BrightSource Energy, is attempting to build the world's largest solar power plant amid concerns such ventures may be too risky an investment for the federal government.
In June, BrightSource Chairman John Bryson was nominated by Obama to head the Commerce Department.
WND reported in June that Bryson co-founded an environmental activist group that is a member and funder of the controversial Apollo Alliance.
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Apollo is run by a slew of socialists and radicals, including Jeff Jones, a founder of the Weather Underground domestic terrorist organization. Jones himself boasts of doing work for the environmental group founded by Bryson, the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Bryson served until June as co-chairman of the Pacific Council on International Policy, a globalist organization whose members can be found throughout the Obama administration.
The massive loan guarantee to BrightSource is meant to build an expensive California desert solar plant known as the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System.
The system will feature mirrors that reflect sun toward a massive central tower that is in turn heated to produce steam meant to spin turbines to produce electricity.
The size of the BrightSource plant is thought to produce enough power to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of Californians.
During a national address last October, Obama mentioned the possible benefits of BrightSource Energy's "revolutionary new type of solar power plant."
However, some have doubted that the massive solar plant will actually work.
The Bay Citizen quoted Michael Boyd, president of the nonprofit Californians for Renewable Energy, as saying there is "no evidence" BrightSource's project will succeed.
Boyd complained most of the equipment used at the plant would be manufactured in China and Germany.
"Stimulus money isn't going to jobs here in the U.S. It's going to jobs overseas," he said.
Boyd's group last year reportedly filed an administrative complaint seeking to block the U.S. loan guarantee, alleging in the complaint the solar project "could have the unintended consequences of killing innovation if these projects fail."
In a briefing last month, BrightSource CEO John Woolard was confident his plant would significantly lower the costs of energy.
"We were able to drop costs down significantly," he said. "Ivanpah is the culmination of two and a half decades of work and thinking around solar."
However, the entire solar energy enterprise is now being questioned as overseas manufacturers, particularly China and Taiwan, have produced similar products and services at much lower prices.
Already, the cost of generating power with panels plunged about 37 percent in the past year, Bloomberg reported yesterday, as Chinese factories cut prices. The price slashes pushed three U.S. makers, including Solyndra, into bankruptcy protection in the past quarter.
The news media and lawmaker focus on the Obama administration's use of funds for solar energy could draw focus to Bryson himself, since he chaired the company that received the largest amount of funds.
Globalist, CO2 activist
Besides his position at BrightSource, which he vacated when he was selected as Obama's Commerce pick, Bryson is the former chairman, chief executive officer and president of Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison.
He serves on the U.N. secretary-general's advisory group on energy and climate change and as co-chairman of the globalist PCIP, a partner of the Council on Foreign Relations.
In 1970, Bryson co-founded the Natural Resources Defense Council, or NRDC, with a $400,000 seed grant from the Ford Foundation.
The group is also funded by the Tides Foundation, to which philanthropist George Soros has donated more than $7 million over the years. Tides itself is a major funder of leftist causes, including ACORN, whose founder and former chief organizer, Wade Rathke, is a Tides board member.
The NRDC is a major proponent of fighting so-called global warming. It recently endorsed a document called the Earth Charter, which, Discover the Networks notes, blames capitalism for many of the world's environmental, social and economic problems.
The charter maintains that "the dominant patterns of production and consumption are causing environmental devastation, the depletion of resources, and a massive extinction of species. The benefits of development are not shared equitably and the gap between rich and poor is widening."
The NRDC is a member of the Apollo Alliance. NRDC's president, Frances Beinecke, is on Apollo's board. The NRDC is also listed by Apollo as a funder of the group, having donated between $1,200 to $2,999 to become an Apollo "clean energy benefactor."
The NRDC endorses many Apollo initiatives.
Apollo's New York office is run by Jeff Jones, who founded the Weather Underground with terrorists Bill Ayers and radical Mark Rudd when the three signed an infamous statement calling for a revolution against the American government inside and outside the country to fight and defeat what the group called U.S. imperialism.
Jones currently boasts on his personal website that he has done consulting work for the NRDC.
Apollo has been credited by the Obama administration with helping craft portions of the $787-billion "stimulus" bill signed into law.
The Apollo Alliance has boasted in promotional material that it was behind several of the Obama administration's "green" initiatives, in addition to crafting "green" sections of the stimulus bill.
Among Apollo's board members are a group of extremists including:
Jones, President Obama's controversial former "green jobs czar" who
resigned in September 2009 after it was exposed he founded a communist
revolutionary organization and signed a statement that accused the Bush
administration of possible involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Jones also
called for "resistance" against the U.S.
Jones himself described the Apollo Alliance's mission as "sort of a grand unified field theory for progressive left causes."
- Joel Rogers, a founder of the socialist New Party. WND reported evidence indicating Obama was a New Party member. In an interview with WND, New Party co-founder and Marxist activist Carl Davidson previously recounted Obama's participation with the New Party.
Meanwhile, Bryson is co-chairman of the PCIP, which was founded in 1995 in partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations.
The group says it is the "premier international affairs organization focused on policy issues of special resonance to the West Coast."
Its goals include "building our network of globally oriented business, civic, and government leaders." Also, the group aims to convene exchanges with global policy makers and opinion leaders while partnering with organizations around the world to "promote mutual understanding and coordinated action."
The PCIP is funded by the Ford Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Obama's ambassador to France, Charles Rivkin, is a member of the PCIP. Last October, he invited a 29-member delegation from the PCIP to a conference in France for the stated purpose of discussing Arab and Islamic relations in the country.
Rivkin was at the center of a scandal when WikiLeaks released a cable in which he proposed the U.S. Embassy in France initiate a multipronged effort to "engage" and help to "empower" France's Muslim minorities.
Rivkin called the effort a "Minority Engagement Strategy," which was largely directed at Muslims in France.
Other PCIP members abound through the Obama administration, WND has learned.
James B. Steinberg, deputy secretary of state, serves on the PICP board of directors. He also serves on the science and security board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, a journal that argued during the Cold War for the U.S. to hand its nuclear weapons to an international organization.
The Bulletin, as WND reported, was founded by scientists who were long accused of spying for the Soviets and passing along vital nuclear secrets.
Vilma S. Martinez, U.S. ambassador to Argentina, is the chairman of the PCIP's Mexico Study Group.
Former Utah Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr., a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, was appointed by Obama as ambassador to China in August 2009. He is a PCIP founding director.
Jeffrey L. Bleich, Obama's appointment for U.S. ambassador to Australia, is a PCIP member.
Diana Farrell, deputy director of the National Economic Council, is a member of the PCIP as well as the Council on Foreign Relations and the Bretton Woods Committee. She is a frequent speaker on U.S. global engagement.
Byron Auguste, a member of Obama's White House Council for Community Solutions, serves on the PCIP board. He is also on the board of trustees of the Center for American Progress, which is funded by Soros and led by John Podesta, who served as co-chairman of Obama's transition team.
Last year, PCIP member Steven Myers joined the State Department's advisory committee on international economic policy.
John B. Emerson, appointee for Obama's advisory committee for trade policy and negotiations, is a member of both the PCIP and CFR.
In April, Obama nominated PCIP member Janet Yellen to serve as vice chairman of the Federal Reserve.
PCIP member Alan D. Bersin was appointed commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Last March, Obama appointed PCIP member Michael Camuñez to the position of assistant secretary for market access and compliance in the Department of Commerce.
Ernest James Wilson, a member of the PCIP board, was elected chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in September 2009. He served as a policy advisor on Obama's presidential transition team on matters of communication technology and public diplomacy.
Also on Obama's transition team was Jonathan Greenblat, chairman of the PCIP's energy and environment committee.
The PCIP has some ties to billionaire activist George Soros. Among PCIP fellows is Ahmed Rashid , a Pakistani journalist and writer who is a member of the advisory board of Eurasia Net of the Soros Foundation. He is also a scholar of the Davos World Economic Forum and a consultant for Human Rights Watch.
At the invitation of the then-U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, he became the first journalist to address the U.N. General Assembly in New York in September 2002 and the first journalist to address NATO ambassadors in Brussels in September 2003.
With additional research by Brenda J. Elliott
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