Are Your Solar Panels Breeding Bolsheviks? Tea Party Congress Targets National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL)

Peter Sinclair pens this guest post, his “Climate Denial Crock of the Week.”

UPDATE:   I have added a featured comment from Prof. Timothy Hughbanks of Texas A&M University in the text below.

The Tea Party congress hates new energy, hates the idea that the nation could be weaned off its oil dependence, or fossil fuels. They hate renewable energy because their primary sponsors in the fossil fuel industry want above all to slow progress on that front, and drag the nation back into the 19th century [see the CP post, “Video proof David Koch, the polluting billionaire, pulls the strings of the Tea Party extremists”].

We’ve seen a number of examples of this over recent months, now the anti-science crusade continues. Lead by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), 9 members of congress have now asked for the closure of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO.

The Denver Post reported this amazing story Saturday:

The lawmakers ask that funding in the 2012 budget be eliminated for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy programs because they “have failed to live up to their supposed potential.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, who represents the district in which the national lab is located, has said the facility generates 5,500 jobs.

“NREL is a crown jewel in the world of renewable energy,” said Les lie Oliver, a spokeswoman for Perlmutter. “It’s providing a lot of jobs; those are things we need to be fostering.”

According to an analysis by the University of Colorado, the lab provides a $714 million annual boost to the state’s economy.

The letter, written by California U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock IR-CA), says: “We should not follow the president’s poor planning in increasing the funding for these anti-energy boondoggles.”

By “boondoggle”, apparently he means wind energy, which has made up more than a third of new US capacity over the last several years, and is currently coming in competitive with, or cheaper than, coal in most areas of the country, or solar energy, which is now the fastest growing industry in the US.

Here American Wind Energy Association President Denise Bode kicks ass and takes names as Fox News “personalities” try to spread more disinformation about renewable energy:

Rep. Lanborn is following a script similar to Rep. Darrell Issa, the Republican Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, who recently wrote that support for “so-called clean energy” is “not good for the United States.”

Peter Sinclair.  This was first posted at his Climate Denial Crock of the Week.

[Joe Romm adds:   I was acting assistant secretary of energy  for energy efficiency and renewable energy in 1997,  overseeing NREL.  It is one of our great scientific and technological institutions, responsible for what leadership in clean energy technologies the United States still maintains.  Shutting it down would truly be cutting off our nose to spite our face.  Clean energy will be one of the biggest job creating industries of the next several decades as we simultaneously fight peak oil and human-cause global warming.  We need NREL now more than ever.]

FEATURED COMMENT from Timothy Hughbanks, Professor at Texas A&M University:

A proper reply to Charles Paine’s “extrapulation” concerning the Arizona solar project: 

“Mr. Paine, not only do you not know how to pronounce ‘extrapolate’, you apparently don’t what the word means. What your silly numbers demonstrate is your ability to stupidly perform ‘multiplication’, not ‘extrapolation’. A sensible ‘extrapolation’ would account for the cost trends over time, not roll the research and development costs into the current power generation yield to conclude that solar energy generation will always be expensive.”

Too bad the wind-power representative, Denise Bode, couldn’t have said that, before saying “…but I’m talking about wind power today.”


Below are the earlier comments from the Facebook commenting system:

Kathleen Kasper

Jeez, the level of propaganda in this country rivals anything that ever came out of Germany, Russia or China. Only difference is, they didn’t have corporate funded tools.

June 6 at 8:39am


In theory the Tea Party is supposed to stand for is less government and less “control” of peoples lives. In reality they stand for controlling the fate of every human being on the planet by representing the business as usual fossil fuel special interests.

June 6 at 9:24am

Wit’s End

It’s just about time to stop arguing with idiots when even the HuffPo reports a story with this headline:

Natural Disasters Displaced 42 Million In 2010; Climate Change Could Be Factor, Experts Say.


Climate change catastrophes aren’t in the future, they are happening NOW.

I was told just yesterday by an intelligent recent college graduate that climate change isn’t a big deal, and anyway, volcanos produce more CO2 than humans burning fuel. Our educational institutions are criminally negligent when the younger generation isn’t being the least prepared for the terrible future of extreme and dangerous weather they are inheriting.

June 6 at 9:34am


Well said, and ta for the link.

June 6 at 9:59am


Do you have to pass a stupidity test to get into the GOP / Tea party?

Do David and Charles shine a light in in the left ear of all prospective GOP candidates and only give membership when the wall on the right hand side of the candidates head is illuminated?

One can only presumably that a flood lit wall would indicate presidential material.

How stupid are there people and just how long are the NOT so stupid American public going to put up with this nonsense?

June 6 at 9:48am

Peter Sinclair

For a look at one of the GOPs more illuminated luminaries, see​ch?v=02EpAMm8rfo

· June 6 at 1:09pm

Matthew Peter Donoghue

In theory, the Teaparty stands for nothing except the right of bilious billionaires to hoard wealth. It is a triumph of marketing pulled off by the Koch Brothers, also conveniently a safe-haven for racists, Second Amendment extremists, Right Wing anti-government anarchists, and “Libertarian faux-cons” (to borrow former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s brilliantly abt turn of phrase).

· June 6 at 9:55am

Peter Sinclair

see this post about tea party trolls being trained to disrupt the internet​011/01/28/climate-denying-​trolls-trained-to-disrupt-​internet/

· June 6 at 1:08pm

Leif Erik Knutsen

You say Bolsheviks, I say Green Awakening Economy. “First we take Manhattan” and “Democracy is Coming to the USA” by Leonard Cohan are two songs sure to inspire. In your Face Fossil Greed Mongers! My PV will be bleeding you soon.
Here is a question? Now that the Supreme Court Jesters have given “life” to Corporations does my power production become “bodily injury”? Should we actually rest control or bring them down; confinement or murder? Am I an accessory to the fact? Does it work the other way around?

June 6 at 10:12am

Peter Sinclair

great 80s version of that here. I relate to the lyrics, except I think Berlin has fallen first.​ch?v=cnCR8kSSmqw

June 6 at 1:24pm

Leif Erik Knutsen

We are behind the curve here, no doubt, Peter. Order is not important, it does show that “Fall” they can and non-violently to boot. We do need a functioning economy to dig our way out of the mess, Just not one that has no respect for the commons.

June 6 at 1:53pm

Timothy Hughbanks

A proper reply to Charles Paine’s “extrapulation” concerning the Arizona solar project:

“Mr. Paine, not only do you not know how to pronounce “extrapolate”, you apparently don’t what the word means. What your silly numbers demonstrate is your ability to stupidly perform “multiplication”, not “extrapolation”. An sensible “extrapolation” would account for the cost trends over time, not roll the research and development costs into the current power generation yield to conclude that solar energy generation will always be expensive.

Too bad the wind-power representative, Denise Bode, couldn’t have said that, before saying “…but I’m talking about wind power today.”

June 6 at 10:14am

Joseph Romm

This is now a featured post in the body of the text.

June 6 at 11:41am

John McCormick

We know what has to be done for nations to scale back CO2 to 350 ppm. It will require the manufacture of millions of non-fossil fuel energy sources and very high efficiency mobile fleet, etc.. US is only a part of that massive objective but the US showed Germany in 1941 just how powerful our capabilities.

Whatever you think of war machines, put that aside and watch this fascinating video of how Henry Ford answered the challenge the US put to him.

Now, who out there can match that scale of production of wind towers, solar panels, EVs, hybrid vehicles? The money is in the hands of pension funds and hedge funds. We have to put it to use to save our civilization from extinction.

Henry Ford was determined that he could mass produce bombers just as he had done with cars. He built the Willow Run assembly plant and proved it.. It was the world’s largest building under one roof, even then FORD HAD A BETTER IDEA!
This film will absolutely blow you away – one B-24 every 55 minutes. ADOLF HITLER HAD NO IDEA THE U.S. WAS CAPABLE OF THIS KIND OF THING. There is no way he could have even guessed.
For those who live outside of Michigan , Willow Run is near Bellville, Canton and Ypsilanti , MI.
It’s amazing that one B-24 came off the assembly line every 55 minutes.
Take a few minutes to watch this snapshot of history.​ps/15654030/1604819366/nam​e/bomber_plant.wmv.

John McCormick

June 6 at 10:17am


The most expensive source of energy is crude oil. Crude oil refined to gasoline and consumed in autos is terribly inefficient, which makes this energy source even more expensive.

So what is America’s biggest source of energy? Yep, you guessed it. Crude oil, with over 60% imported.

The current annual cost of subsidizing renewable energy development per American is a few pennies, but an average driver spends over $2000 annually on gasoline. Yet the Fox news personalities on their “business show” are more concerned about pennies than thousands of $$$. Their arguments are idiotic.

I guess they never heard of PHEVs charging using wind power.

June 6 at 10:35am


Oops. Messed up the calculations. The cost of subsidizing renewable energy development is likely in the range of $20 to $30 per person. Still, the average household spends about 7% of their income on energy, so the current cost is relatively small, less than 1%.

· June 6 at 10:45am

Peter Sinclair

Nissan has a clever new ad: “What if everything ran on gas!”​011/06/06/new-nissan-ad-wh​at-if-everything-ran-on-ga​s/

June 6 at 1:14pm

Chris Paradise

It’s somewhat tangental to this post, but one argument I’ve heard a few times in various forms is that it’s “arrogant to assume that humans can affect the earth’s climate”. To me, it’s arrogant to assume that humans cannot affect the earth’s climate, as we are the single biggest influence on how the earth looks that there is.

June 6 at 11:01am

John McCormick

C hris, I agree. And, to make your point, say: CFC’s created an ozone hole in the Southern Hemisphere that threatens the health of people and animals. Now, that’s climate change!

June 6 at 12:09pm

Donald A. Burgess

And it is also contributing to global warming effects in complicated ways.

June 8 at 9:01pm

Leif Erik Knutsen

The FOX talking head asked Denise Bode how many people were employed in the US on wind energy and pointed out that it was ~80,000. If memory serves me correct I recall reading that those employed in America Fossil oil is about 85,000 and that is after eighty? years of subsidies and healthy profits. Employment graphs and trends would be helpful to counter Gas Bags..

June 6 at 11:03am

Cal Morton

Leif, the figure for Exxon alone is 83,700. I was literally screaming at my monitor, I can’t watch Fox ‘news’ without having my blood pressure spike… I know they cant be that f$&@ing stupid, why do they take these positions… report the news!!

June 12 at 1:52pm

Leif Erik Knutsen

Thanks for the correction Cal. It is important to get the facts correct. It must be noted that even with a carbon price these folks are not going to go out of business. They might be forced to pay a few taxes but hay, they use the roads as well.

June 12 at 1:58pm

Anne B. Butterfield

Cal, even Chris Matthews on Hardball barks out, “are batteries ready yet to absorb that wind energy?” and Ann Thompson said, NO… while in reality the grid itself is the battery for now, until we get to higher levels of penetration. So the positioning and poor info is not just on FOX. We have our work cut out for us.

June 12 at 3:39pm

Cal Morton

I’ve just watched the clip again… one his ‘bozo points’ was that we’ve had 30 yrs of wind subsidies but the energy still doesn’t amount to much. I’m sure if Denise had had a moment, she would have pointed out that 35% of ALL new generating capacity since 2007 has come from wind. In my personal opinion, the wind and solar bodies need to start shifting more emphasis to the numbers – both sources are getting very close to grid-parity – oh and by the way, the fuel is clean, free, here and ever-lasting, is said sort of tongue-in-cheek. That’s how I have to sell it here in Texas…and its starting work.

June 12 at 4:47pm

Leif Erik Knutsen

Out here in the west the Columbia is so full of water and the Dams are producing so much power the wind farms are being forced to shut down because of lack of grid capacity. A few years ago, before wind farms, drought conditions were forcing us to import power from out of state dirty sources. Another side effect is that all the cold water run off and subsequent Dam spillage and mixing with normally warmer Columbia water is shocking the new Salmon fingerlings and killing many. River and highway traffic is slowed because the River is so high that bridges that are normally high enough for most barge traffic now must open.

June 12 at 4:50pm

Charles Scott

This was a perfect example of interviewers who didn’t want to hear anything that might upset their preconceived ideological standpoints. It’s a nice tactic: invite the person on only as an opportunity to highlight your own points and try to make her look bad. And while you’re at it, don’t give her enough time to comment in depth and keep cutting her off. I only wish Denise could have had an opportunity to address each of the initial bullet points put forth by the interviewer.

June 6 at 3:59pm

Thomas C. Gibbons

I think this is the same lab that was known as the Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI) during the Reagan years. If so, I was there for a summer as the Reagan budget cuts hit. Nothing ever seems to change. Early in the summer, I couldn’t find office space. Toward the end I had my pick of offices. But it apparently survived that, and it will survive again. Strange that members of congress would try to harm the economy of their own state.

June 7 at 6:00am

Crystal Hope Kendrick

The Repubs are only pro-business if it’s a certain kind of business.

June 7 at 10:09am

Thomas C. Gibbons

By the way, I see my institution came up as Eastern Illinois University. I haven’t been there since 1964 and am now retired. I’ll change that if I can figure out how.

June 7 at 6:02am

Donald A. Burgess

After the Republican takeover of the House in the 1994 “Revolution,” one of Gingrich’s first moves was the elimination of the Office of Technology Assessment, which provided scientific advice on the whole spectrum of legislation with scientific consequences. But since the Republicans “knew what the outcome should be, there was NO REASON to worry about it not coming to pass.

June 8 at 9:20pm

Steve Potts

My God the stupidity of these people is just breathtaking. I wish there was some film of the auto naysayers when the future of horse travel was threatened. It’s the same dimwitted strain.

June 9 at 9:20pm

Anne B. Butterfield

This was the topic of my column this week.. in which I explore the dumbcluck politics of Doug Lamborn who’s sitting on a military dominated district is his chief funding source — and the military is going balls-out for clean energy! Hey Mr Lamborn, who’s the new military contractor in town? Solar companies! see​/opinion-columnists/ci_182​48291.

June 12 at 3:31pm

Anne B. Butterfield

I should add that this is my back yard and front yard… as my husband worked 24 years at NREL and Lamborn is just down the road in C-Springs.

June 12 at 3:32pm

Comments are closed.