Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan of Missouri is a rank-and-file Democrat. According to OpenCongress.org, he has voted with the Democratic Party 99 percent of the time since he assumed office in 2005, and was among those who consistently espoused the merits of the 2009 stimulus package.
He has, in other words, been a good reliable Democrat for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Obama. And it seems the obedience has not gone unnoticed.
Earlier this month, the White House released a report entitled, “100 Recovery Act Projects that are Changing America.” Number 18 on the list is Lost Creek Wind Farm in DeKalb County, Missouri, which received a $107 million grant from the Department of Energy. And it just so happens that Lost Creek was founded by Tom Carnahan – Russ’ brother.
But Tom’s history associated with the war against fossil fuels and the world of renewable energy is a short one, beginning in 2005 — the same year his brother entered Congress — when he quit his law practice to start Wind Capital Group LLC to develop wind energy in Missouri. At first, business wasn’t so great, and the Lost Creek project was put on hold. That is, until the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed, and along with it, the establishment of the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program.
That loan guarantee program, it turns out, has since buttered Tom Carnahan’s bread very nicely.
He even admitted as much in a 2009 interview when he said, “We never really liked to say it out loud…A few months ago, the banks were closed…The stimulus changed everything.”
Ed Martin, a Republican who is challenging Carnahan in November to represent Missouri’s third district, told the The Daily Caller that, “The stimulus has shown to be a payout to special interests and family members; it’s not focused on jobs,” adding that the Carnahans are a prime example.
“Americans know things like solar and wind power is a piece to a comprehensive energy plan, but the idea of spending millions on a wind farm is mind boggling,” said Martin. “It’s the worst of Washington in terms of insiders dealing with each other.”
But if the Carnahans have their way, the stimulus package won’t be the only government bailout Lost Creek will get. Both brothers are on record advocating a first-ever national Renewable Energy Standards (RES) bill that, until Wednesday, was working its way through the Senate.
The bill — introduced by Sens. Sam Brownback of Kansas, a Republican, and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, a Democrat — mandates that at least 15 percent of electricity generated by utility companies has to come from renewable energy sources by 2021. It is the latest offensive move by those fighting the war against fossil fuels, which suffered a defeat over the summer when it became clear cap and trade legislation was dead in the Senate.
But before Congress went home, there was a rush to pass a standalone RES bill before the midterm elections when, presumably, the Republicans will gain much more influence and put all climate change legislation in the bottom drawer.
As a result, RES is being pushed by all kinds of environmental groups, trade groups, and businesses that make up the RES Alliance for Jobs – a coalition organized specifically to lobby for RES. One of its members is Wind Capital Group – Tom Carnahan’s company that is building Lost Creek.
Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute told TheDC that a national renewable electricity standard has been tried before. And, what’s more, it doesn’t work. Instead of resulting in environmentally-friendly states, he said, electricity standards drive manufacturing out because of increased electricity costs.
NEXT: Myron Ebell explains the impact of a national renewable electricity standard