Jan 082012

WASHINGTON D.C.—Upon reports Tuesday that a USDA-backed biofuels plant in Soperton, Georgia has lost taxpayers nearly $60 million,IER President Tom Pyleissued the following statement:

“Apparently U.S. taxpayers have yet to discover life after Solyndra. Today’s announcement that a USDA-backed biofuels plant has been sold for pennies on the dollar—at a loss of nearly $60 million to U.S. taxpayers—further underscores the point that the federal government should not be in the venture capital business.

The Bush administration secured the Range Fuels loan, and the Obama administration doubled down on the bad investment. At this rate, Uncle Sam may be outpacing Bernie Madoff when it comes to fraudulent investment schemes and zeroed-out portfolios.The Department of Agriculture, like the Department of Energy, should be held accountable for this abusive waste of taxpayer money.”

To read IER President Tom Pyle’s earlier op-ed on the Range Fuels loan, click here.

h/t CFP from Institute for Energy Research


Takeaway Lessons

The lesson that many will take away from this debacle is that the government should not be in the business of investing in risky new technologies. But I think that’s the wrong message to take away. I believe that our level of dependence on oil — especially oil imported from unstable parts of the globe — is a risk that we need to actively mitigate against. I believe there is a role for government to play in helping to mitigate this risk by encouraging alternative energy technologies. What I would say that this situation demonstrates is that they don’t necessarily have the correct model with which to do this. To me, this demonstrates that the government lacks the expertise to evaluate the level of risk in these technologies, and the process can be hijacked by those with political connections.

NOTE: Recently it was announced that Range Fuels has gone into foreclosure


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