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Why Did 60 Minutes Focus on Cleantech, When There's Rampant Waste, Fraud and Abuse with "Clean Coal" Program?

1 min. read

As many have written about, there clearly were enormous, serious problems with 60 Minutes' cleantech hit piece the other day. Among the worst of those problems was the failure to mention the enormous amount of taxpayer-funded corporate welfare which has flowed to fosil fuel companies for decades. For instance, BloombergBusinessweek reports on an Energy Department program to help develop "technology to capture carbon-dioxide emissions" from coal-fired power plants; "an investment in the development of clean-coal technologies that was unprecedented in terms of cost and scope."  But wait, it gets worse:

Energy officials hadn’t “adequately documented the approval and rationale” in awarding $575 million to 15 recipients, the watchdog found. Three projects won $90 million even though a review process identified significant financial and technical issues with the companies that won the aid, according to the report.

The report found that the department reimbursed recipients about $18.3 million in questionable expenses. The department said in response that it was seeking to reclaim the money.

The agency spent $90 million on three projects the review suggested faced technical challenges or were unable to raise the required amount of private capital to win the government money...

...While federal officials were supposed to award contracts through competitive bidding, the report found that $575 million went to accelerate existing projects without always documenting its rationale for doing so.

Note that this article was published in March 2013, long before the 60 Minutes hit piece on cleantech was aired. Yet 60 Minutes completely ignored this example - and many other examples - of wasteful spending to subsidize highly profitable, environmentally disastrous fossil fuel interests. In this case, the DOE Solicitor General reported that the "clean coal" program was not just rife with waste, fraud, and abuse, but that there isn't even a single commercially viable power plant to show for it. Now if that doesn't seem like something 60 Minutes should be doing an expose on, we're not sure what would be. The question is, why did 60 Minutes decide to ignore the rampant abuse and waste in fossil fuels, but focus on the far smaller, far less significant problems in government support for cleantech?