Archives for February 2013

Morning News for Thursday, February 28, 2013

From the Courthouse News Service:

The 9th Circuit blocked the shutdown of a California oyster farm that is fighting a permit denial from the U.S. government.

When Kevin Lunny bought the 1.5-acre oyster farm from its previous owner in December 2004, the deed came with a 40-year reservation of use and occupancy set to expire on Nov. 30, 2012.

The deal gave the National Park Service the right to issue a special use permit at the end of the term, but it instead left the fate of Drakes Bay Oyster Co. in the hands of U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

Related content here: KALW

Washington Free Beacon:

The Justice Department plans to celebrate the government’s “significant improvements” in administering the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) even though a majority of federal agencies, including the Justice Department itself, have ignored the Obama administration’s transparency guidelines.

The Justice Department will mark the fourth anniversary of Attorney General Eric Holder’s 2009 memorandum to federal agencies instructing them to revise their FOIA regulations and adopt a presumption in favor of openness, according to a press release.

Denver Post:

Colorado health and environment officials have ordered Loveland-based Abound Solar, the bankrupt solar-panel maker, to clean up hazardous waste at four Front Range locations.

The Abound facilities are storing thousands of “unsellable” solar panels and thousands of gallons of toxic liquids, according to Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reports.

Buying an Energy Loan

The introduction of government influence into the market places an incentive for businesses to use the government’s power in order to garnish a larger share of the market. Perhaps better known as cronyism, this attempt to use politics in favor of private business is often characterized by campaign contributions for politicians who can then use political power to steer government funding and prowess to private firms.

Could the Department of Energy Loan Guarantee Program  be characterized as a breeding ground for cronyism in the distribution of loans through the 1703, 1705, and Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Guarantee Programs?

Cause of Action was able to determine, through publicly available data combined with a FOIA production[1], that for corporations[2] who have received a loan guarantee of any amount, the likelihood that it made campaign contributions increases significantly. Of the data available, 95% (.95) of DOE loan recipients with less than $1 billion in annual revenue documented political contributions by the organization or senior level staff. Comparatively, only 31% (.319489) of similarly sized organizations that did not receive loans made political contributions in one way or another.

To date, ATVM, 1703, and 1705 loans have awarded guarantees in the amount of $34.5 billion. [3]

The Department of Energy defines each of these programs as follows:

  • Section 1703 of Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorizes the U.S. Department of Energy to support innovative clean energy technologies that are typically unable to obtain conventional private financing due to high technology risks. [4]
  • Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loans support the development of advanced technology vehicles (ATV) and associated components in the United States. They also meet higher efficiency standards.[5]
  • The Section 1705 Loan Program authorizes loan guarantees for U.S.-based projects that commenced construction no later than September 30, 2011 and involve certain renewable energy systems, electric power transmission systems, and leading edge biofuels.[6]

With that amount of money at stake, it is easy to see why Loan Guarantee Programs (LGP) have attracted a large number of applicants during the course of the program. This could potentially lead private corporations, who stand to significantly benefit from receiving a DOE Loan Guarantee, to make attempts to better the chances of being a recipient through means of political persuasion.

The program itself, while touting its ability to create jobs, has proven riddled with pitfalls and failures and may in fact be taking away jobs from other areas of industry—ones that may prove more valuable to the citizens who fund DOE LGPs with their tax dollars[7].


[1] FOIA Production available here

[2] ‘Corporations’ refers to privately owned business who was given a loan guarantee through the DOE LGP that also had less than $1 billion in annual revenue. In the cases of subsidiaries, organizations whose parent corporations made political contributions were considered to have made political contributions by proxy.

[3] United States Department of Energy, accessed 27 February 2013,

[4] United States Department of Energy, accessed 27 February 2013,

[5] United States Department of Energy, accessed 27 February 2013,

[6] United States Department of Energy, accessed 27 February 2013,

[7] Mercatus Center, accessed 27 February 2013

Related Documents: Department of Energy Loan Guarantee Program

FOIA Request

FOIA Request (May 17, 2012)

FOIA Productions

Combined Data

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy 2

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy 3

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy 4

Nuclear Power

Nuclear Power 2

Financial Institution Partnership Program (FIPP)

Financial Institution Partnership Program (FIPP) 2

Energy Transmission


Fossil Fuels




E&E Daily: Court allows oyster farm on national seashore to stay open until at least May

INTERIOR: Court allows oyster farm on national seashore to stay open until at least May

Jessica Estepa, E&E reporter
Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A California oyster farm that was slated to close this week will remain open until at least May thanks to a decision yesterday from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In May, the court will hear Drakes Bay Oyster Co.’s appeal of a denied injunction that would keep the farm open while its lawsuit against Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is still pending. Drakes Bay was supposed to shutter operations Thursday, but the court has granted an emergency motion that keeps the farm in the Point Reyes National Seashore open until it has heard the injunction case.

The decision drew praise from the company’s backers and a key Republican but criticism from environmentalists.

In the order, the court said it did so “because there are serious legal questions and the balance of hardships tips sharply in the appellants’ favor.”

The order cited another case in which the Alliance for the Wild Rockies appealed to the 9th Circuit after its injunction was denied. In that case, the appeals court reversed the lower court’s decision.

“We are grateful that the Ninth Circuit has chosen to allow Drakes Bay Oyster Co. to continue operating and recognized the hardships that would have resulted from shutting down the farm before its case could be heard,” said Amber Abbasi, chief counsel for regulatory affairs at Cause of Action, a government watchdog group that is representing Drakes Bay in the case.

Oyster farm owner Kevin Lunny said he is “thrilled” that the company — which finds itself in the center of an ongoing environmental battle — will stay open while his lawsuit against Salazar continues.

“Our fight has always been about more than just our business,” he said in a statement. “Our fight is, and will continue to be, about the great service Drakes Bay Oyster Farm provides to the community as an innovative sustainable farm, an education resource and part of the economic fiber of Marin County.”

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, likewise praised the decision.

“Interior attempted to flat out kill this oyster farm and its jobs by using misleading science and ignoring economic impacts,” Vitter said in a statement. “I applaud the Ninth Circuit for taking this first step to recognizing that the Interior agency bureaucrats, including Ken Salazar, almost put people out of work for no good reason.”

But the environmentalists who have pushed for the farm’s closure point out that a decision from U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers still stands. Earlier this month, Gonzalez Rogers denied the injunction, saying that the court had no jurisdiction over Salazar’s decision to end Drakes Bay’s lease (Greenwire, Feb. 5).

“We are confident the district court got it right when it decided that the Interior secretary had full discretion to let the lease expire and that the oyster company was unlikely to win its lawsuit,” said Neal Desai, Pacific region associate director of the National Parks Conservation Association. “The 9th Circuit Court’s decision today unfortunately delays by two months the ability for Americans to enjoy their national park wilderness.”

Morning News for Tuesday, February 26, 2013

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

A federal appeals court granted a reprieve Monday to an oyster farm that challenged the federal government’s refusal to renew its lease at Point Reyes National Seashore, site of a proposed marine wilderness.

Drakes Bay Oyster Co. has raised “serious legal questions” about the Interior Department’s action, said the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The court also said the company and its employees would suffer hardships by having to shut down while the case was pending.

More from the Associated Press.

From Forbes:

Appeals of NLRB decisions pending before the nation’s various Circuit Courts of Appeals since the issuance of the D.C. Circuit’s widely publicized Noel Canning decision have challenged the validity of the Board’s recess appointees and its resulting lack of a quorum.


A federal judge in Washington on Friday dismissed most of the claims brought by a small Chinese firm against President Barack Obama for squashing its bid to build wind farms close to a naval training site… The court did say Ralls could move forward with its challenge to how the statute at issue was implemented in this case. Ralls has argued that the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution entitles it to hear the reasons for the president’s decision.

Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Applauds 9th Circuit Ruling for Drakes Bay Oyster Company

Vitter Applauds Court Decision Blocking Interior’s Attempt to Close an Oyster Farm

Learn More

Emergency Injunction Granted for Drakes Bay Oyster Company

Learn More