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  • Can the Department of Energy Really Spend All That Money?

    Or should the question be how much will they waste?

    Economist Arnold Kling has a list of risks associated with a large stimulus. Number one on the list is: It is harder to spend larger amounts quickly and cost-effectively. One of Obama’s chief economists, Larry Summers, emphasized that stimulus spending must be quick and temporary. That doesn’t seem to be the case with the energy projects in the bill.

    From the WSJ:

    Minnesota’s Sage Electrochromics Inc. has been ready for months to move on just the sort of project the Obama administration hopes will bolster the U.S. economy: a $65 million factory that would make energy-saving windows and generate 250 new jobs.

    So what’s holding it up? The Energy Department, whose fledgling loan-guarantee office has yet to approve a single project, including the proposed Sage glass factory, since the loan program launched in early 2007.

    President Barack Obama plans to rely heavily on agencies like the Energy Department to approve contracts and issue loan guarantees and grants at a record clip in the $789 billion stimulus plan.

    The spending demands could prove particularly taxing at the DOE. The Energy Department has had limited experience pulling off big, transformative energy projects. Most of the department’s $25 billion budget goes toward maintaining the nation’s nuclear stockpile, cleaning up former weapons plants, and doing basic scientific research.”

    The article goes on to discuss the history of delays associated with the DOE. The question now becomes: What’s worse? The wasted spending that will result from the stimulus bill or the chance that the Obama administration and Congress will take credit for the economy successfully recovering. Number five on Kling’s list against the big stimulus reads: There is a risk that much of the spending will kick in after a recovery is underway.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to Can the Department of Energy Really Spend All That Money?

    1. C Meier, Pleasanton, says:

      What big projects, other than nuclear stockpile stewardship, does the DOE have? For years they have been unable to sustain big energy and science projects for lack of congressional support and funding. Result: we have stopped long term research on magnetic confinement fusion and intertial confinement fusion that can deliver our energy needs in the next century. We have also abandonded our big science projects such as the Superconducting Super Collider which could have made historic stides in high energy physics, crucial in harnessing new energy technologies. Today, the DOE is not prepared to handle large scale projects as there is vitrually nothing they do, outside of the weapons program, that is large scale nor do they have nothing in the pipeline. There are some DOE sites and federal locations that could rather quickly, with the help of industry, install large wind farms with little envirnomental impact. Two of these locations are the Nevada Test Site and Site 300 near their laboratory in Livermore, CA. These are small potatoes projects when there are billions to spend, but at least they are unlikely to waste a lot of taxpayer dollars. Perhaps they could also fund co-generation plants for several of the government sites as again, with the help of industry, these can be done quickly and efficiently. Who knows, maybe someone from the DOE will read this and get some ideas. Hope springs eternal.

    2. Thomas Gray South Ca says:

      To, C Meier,

      No thanks.

    3. Michael W Scrimsher, says:

      The DOE is one of the most wastefull and inefficient federal agencies the Fed has. For over 30 years, the DOE has spent hundreds of million per year "cleaning up" the Hanford site. More $$ has been spent and longer has been taken to clean it up than was spent to build it and make the plutonium it produced to end WWII and thru the Cold War years. For too many of those who currently work there, the goal is to make it a project that will last forever. There is no "end date" for that project.

    4. Hozro1, Oregon says:

      Can they spend it? Of course they can, providing Congress and the President wants them to! I haven't seen any change yet, just a quicker pace.

      I did come across an article titled (appropriately), This will curdle your blood and break your heart, written by a Professor Joseph Olson of Hemline University School of Law in Minnesota.

      These are facts from the 2008 Presidential election:

      Number of States won by Democrats:19, Republicans: 29.

      Square miles of land won by; Democrats: 580,000, Republicans: 2,427,000.

      Population of counties won by Democrats: 127 million, Republicans: 143 million.

      Now we get to the GOOD STUFF!

      Murder rate per 100,00 residents in counties won by Democrats: 13.2, Republicans: 2.1

      The map of the territory Republicans was owned by tax paying citizens of this country.

      Democrat territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in government-owned tenements and off various forms of government welfare.

      Professor Olson believes we are somewhere between the 'complacency and apathy' phase"Tyler's" definition of Democracy, ( of which we are not-we are a Republic) with forty % of the population having already reached the "Governmental Dependency" phase.

      If Congress grants amnesty and citizenship to twenty million criminal invaders called illegals and they vote, then we can just say good bye to the USA in less than five years.

      Remember that we are a Republic, a nation where government is limited by Law! We have to stop this idea of this so called Democracy. It didn't work for the Greeks and it will not work for the United States of America.

      Hozro

    5. Mike, Hickory, North says:

      The facts in the above article are in fact absolutely right and true.

      Of course, if you're a Leftist government elitist politician or bureaucrat, you will nevertheless simultaneously take credit for such as any economic recovery which happens despite the repeatedly proven detrimental and failing effects of Leftist government elitist attitudes and policies, and continue to demagogue and pander against the repeatedly proven incomparable success and benefits to all of Conservative Constitutional principles.

      Plus, of course, if you're a willfully or lazily blind and misled dependant upon and/or otherwise an ally of Leftist government elitists politicians and bureaucrats, you not only depend upon and/or vote for and advocate them, but you will also have a tendency to either proclaim or complain about how they may or may not perpetrate enough of their Leftist government elitism through their seizing and spending enough power and money fast enough to please you and/or others of your ilk.

      On the other hand, not only are most of us Americans far from surprised at how much of our money Leftist government elitist politicians and bureaucrats can spend and how fast they can spend it, but most of us know how, and many of us at least suspect how, they're taking away our Constitutional power, freedoms, rights, prosperity, and security, both as individuals and as the United States of America, like street-thugs in the night, no matter how they may claim and insist to the contrary.

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