“It is almost impossible to know who is the government and who the lobbyists. They have merged into one single animal with different faces.” – Dr. Gabriel Calzada, Spanish economics professor and researcher
BACKGROUND: Last March, Spanish economics professor Gabriel Calzada published an academic analysis that showed for every green job created in Spain, 2.2 jobs were lost as an opportunity cost. This finding contradicted the Obama Administration’s claim that massive subsidies for wind and solar energy would create jobs. Calzada’s study gained national attention from the media and policymakers, making it difficult for the Administration to advance such failed policies. The Administration’s response? Huddle with big wind lobbyists and other special-interest groups to collaborate on a taxpayer-funded “rebuttal” to Calzada’s work. When the media and some in Congress inquired about the highly unusual step the Administration took in analyzing and responding to an analysis of the Spanish experience with renewable energy and green jobs, senior level government officials were not forthright or honest in their response.
Washington, DC – A day after being sworn into office, President Obama issued a memorandum to the heads of executive departments and agencies “reaffirming the commitment to accountability and transparency.” In the memo, the President states “All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in FOIA [Freedom of Information Act], and to usher in a new era of open Government.” The President has also promised on numerous occasions that lobbyists will have no influence over his Administration.
Despite calls for increased transparency and openness, recent U.S. Energy Department documents obtained through FOIA requests and reported by The Chicago Tribune show significant collusion among Energy Department officials and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), as well as other third party special-interest groups, including the left-of-center Center for American Progress.
Assistant secretary of energy Cathy Zoi, who has held top positions at Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection, is charged with crafting renewable energy policy for the Obama Administration. According to FOIA-obtained emails, Zoi and her team worked hand-in-hand with big wind’s lobby – AWEA – and other special-interest groups to rebut and discredit a groundbreaking study published by Dr. Gabriel Calzada, of Madrid’s King Juan Carlos University, that examined Span’s experience with renewable energy mandates and so-called “green jobs.”
Dr. Calzada’s original academic research squarely contradicts the Obama Administration’s position on taxpayer-funded green jobs. Calzada determined that for every “green job” the Spanish government created, 2.2 jobs were destroyed as an opportunity cost. They also found that 9 out of 10 government-created “green jobs” are temporary, highlighted the fact that Spain’s unemployment is at an all-time high, and noted that overall carbon emissions – which are said to decrease under “the greening of the economy” – actually increased.
This research on Spain’s failed attempted to create a government-mandated “green economy” served as a major setback for those who favor top-down federal energy mandates, subsidies and handouts – such as AWEA and the President himself. According to the FOIA-secured emails, high-level Energy Department officials worked with AWEA and other special-interest groups to collaborate on a taxpayer-funded rebuttal.
“This Administration may publicly pride itself on being open, transparent, and free from lobbyist influence, but these emails and internal documents demonstrate that actions speak much louder than words,” said Thomas J. Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research. “Dr. Calzada led and conducted a sound analysis of Spain’s failed experience with renewable energy mandates. For his work to be targeted by top U.S. government officials is disturbing. What’s worse, though, is how closely this Administration’s ties are with far-left special-interests lobbyists.”
According to a FOIA-obtained email, one Energy Department official stated, “This is the first time we’ve been asked to response so directly (right?).” His colleague responded, “That is probably true. But we can let DOE [Head Quarters] tell them why they wanted it, especially if this is the first time.”
Blog post: IER Response to DOE/NREL rebuttal
Note: The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) obtained this information through a FOIA request. Christopher Horner, a senior fellow at CEI, posted his thoughts HERE.