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« More evidence that green jobs are illusory | Main | A Fracking Time - Josh 235 »
Thursday
Aug222013

A feature, not a bug

Eyebrows have been raised over Chris Huhne's landing a job with a US bioenergy business, reportedly worth £100,000 for two days a week, shortly after being released from prison for perverting the course of justice. Priyanka Shrestha, writing at Energy Live News, wonders if maybe crime does pay.

She's right of course. We at Bishop Hill have noticed that there is a curious tendency among those involved with energy policy to move on to extraordinarily lucrative jobs in the energy industry. And it's not just the politicians, it's the civil servants too. PJ O'Rourke has observed that when politicians decide what gets bought and sold, the first thing bought and sold is the politicians. Deals for the purchase of civil servants are not far behind though.

So make no mistake. Corruption is a feature of "government energy policy", not a bug.

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Reader Comments (60)

Are you surprised, I'm not . However, should not the ministerial code be invoked, is it two (?) years since he left (?) his job. He did resign ( to prove his innocence) a year before going to prison and he served less than half his sentence. It really says more about the company that is employing him that they think his insider contacts are worth more than their reputation.

Aug 22, 2013 at 9:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterTrefjon

It's not just energy policy that has a revolving door corruption policy. Look at the number of politicians (failed and otherwise) and civil servants who go into lucrative posts in say the EU or the UN or NGOs.

Aug 22, 2013 at 9:15 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

It just proves that the green energy industry doesn't care what sort of crook it employs to get business.

Aug 22, 2013 at 9:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Those who are proven to be corrupt should be charged with the crime.

Aug 22, 2013 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

However much one might wish to criticise the administration of which he was part the much fairer and freer energy market brought in by Nigel Lawson under Margaret Thatcher meant that there was far less opportunity for politicians and civil servants to be bought and sold in the sordid manner Andrew describes. And of course at that time the poor of the UK enjoyed some of the cheapest electricity on the planet. Today we have crooks like Huhne adding to their riches as the poor go to the wall in greater numbers every winter.

And they call this progressive.

[I originally wrote Hulme, not Huhne. Sorry Mike!]

Aug 22, 2013 at 9:23 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuwFO5dbnVw


This how it's done.

Aug 22, 2013 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered Commenterjones

Trefjon
Companies like that care eff all for "reputation" since the only people they are dealing with are other similar companies with similar lack of interest in anything except the bottom line.
If you want "reputation" you need to look at organisations that are competing for the goodwill of the general public. We still have this old-fashioned idea that we would rather deal with honest men than with crooks.

Aug 22, 2013 at 9:29 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

On 30th May When Tim Yeo was chair of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee he was appointed chairman to Albion Community Power PLC (a renewable energy company).

I am positive that his appointment as chairman of Albion had nothing whatsoever to do with any influence he might have as chair of the select committee. The fact that his chairmanship of Albion only lasted a few days after resigning from the select committee is just a coincidence. Overall, his chairmanship lasted 13 days.

Aug 22, 2013 at 9:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Ref youtube link above, for the really good relevant bit with Sir Arnold and Sir Humphrey go to 4.41.

All good though.

Aug 22, 2013 at 9:35 AM | Unregistered Commenterjones

Perhaps they hired him for his warm, friendly manner and sparkling personality?

Aug 22, 2013 at 9:43 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

At least we can be confident that he won't be taking any carbon-spewing trips on any private jets.

Can we not?

Aug 22, 2013 at 9:46 AM | Unregistered Commenterjones

There were moves at the fag end of the last Labour administration to try and stop civil servants from the MOD leaving and then popping up in a senior position in an arms manufacturer. Ministers at the time called this "corruption" and made a big song and dance about it eventually bringing in a 6 month delay in any appointments.

Of course that only applied to civil servants, politicians including ex-ministers were allowed at the trough more or less the minute they stepped down or were removed as ministers. Patricia Hewitt is one of the best known examples, but there are quite a few others :

http://www.lobbyingtransparency.org/15-blog/general/62-revolving-door-is-unhealthy

Aug 22, 2013 at 9:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

It really says more about the company that is employing him that they think his insider contacts are worth more than their reputation.

Aug 22, 2013 at 9:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterTrefjon

Nice one, Trefjon. You refer, of course, to his insider contacts at HM Leyhill...

Aug 22, 2013 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

I believe, as one commenter above said, this is as much a reflection of the morals of the company employing Huhne that they feel it appropriate to employ a convicted criminal straight out of prison in a top job.

I would sincerely hope that EVERY contact this company has in future with government officials and contracts is scrutinised in the minutest detail and if there is even the hint of impropriety then the law should be called in. Huhne is just the sort of person who is arrogant enough to think he can get away with anything.

Aug 22, 2013 at 9:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

Probably the most absurd “green” technology yet proposed by DECC to “tackle” climate change are biofuels. Biofuels are either ethanol based derived from sugar cane and corn or biodiesel derived from palm oils and rape seed oils. The first can be added to petrol and the second to diesel. The UK government is subsidizing these biofuels through the “Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation” which “requires” the UK to use 5% of biofuel. This is supposedly to reduce carbon emissions. However a proper scientific analysis demonstrates this is total nonsense. This absurd policy directly increases world food prices thereby starving the poor to reward the rich. In reality the conversion of fossil fuel energy into food has saved humanity from global famine because fertilizers are 100% based on petroleum products.

To quote from the report:
"Without the addition of artificial fertilizer energy, plants are limited to getting their energy from the sun. The devastating limiting factor for all biofuels is that photosynthesis captures solar energy with surprisingly poor speed and efficiency—only about 0.1 percent of sunlight is trans-lated into biomass by the typical terrestrial plant, and this translates into an anemic power density of only 0.3 watts per square meter (W/m2). "

The Energy Return On Investment (EROI) for biofuel is 1.25. i.e. You need to burn 1 barrel of oil in order to get back 1.25 barrels worth of biofuel. Feeding horses for transport is far more efficient !

Current biofuel policy pays subsidies to the rich at the expense of the world’s poor. It encourages the destruction of rain forests across Borneo to Brazil and increases net energy costs to no avail whatsoever. This crazy policy violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics by purporting to be some sort of “green” perpetual motion machine.

Wasn't Chris Hume partly responsible for defining this policy ?

Aug 22, 2013 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterClive Best

...just the sort of person who is arrogant enough to think he can get away with anything.

You know what? I bet he does get away with it, too. They all do; it is such a tight closet of fudge... back-scratchers, from the top "civil" [NOT!] servant to the lowliest "political" journo. Make a mistake, and the MSM will help you cover it up, provided you've given them what they want.

Aug 22, 2013 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Here is the biography of their new recruit on the Zilkha Biomass website. As pointed out on the Energy Live blog, one significant detail seems to be missing.

Aug 22, 2013 at 10:17 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Well, I never liked the bloke - but at least now I know why.

Aug 22, 2013 at 10:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

Clive Best said
"The Energy Return On Investment (EROI) for biofuel is 1.25. i.e. You need to burn 1 barrel of oil in order to get back 1.25 barrels worth of biofuel. Feeding horses for transport is far more efficient !"

You are forgetting the Green Talliban want to take us back to a medieval utopia where the main soruce of power was water, wind and horses/mules.

We need to do this to save the planet. After all who needs medicine, hygene, good nutrition, wealth, safe sewage disposal, etc.

Aug 22, 2013 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

ConfusedPhoton said
"You are forgetting the Green Talliban want to take us back to a medieval utopia where the main soruce of power was water, wind and horses/mules."

Perhaps so - but l expect the Green Mullah will still be driving down the M11 at 90 mph on biofuel !
Presumably by then the rest of us will just have to be culled because the UK before 1750 could only support < 5 million people.

Aug 22, 2013 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterClive Best

I thinks morals have declined since public life no longer includes people with combat experience from WW1 or WW2. I have heard one ex Tory councillor say to me who resigned when planning permission was granted on very dubious grounds" I did not fight the war for this". The councillor had been a pilot from the beginning of WW2, survived the forced marches at the end and became a test pilot .

It appears that those who survived combat tended to have a belief that they owed those who died a duty to lead an honourable life.

In " The Lion and Unicorn " Orwell critcises the left wing intellectuals who mocked physical courage before WW2 as undermining the nation. The success of much left wing thought has been because left wing middle class intellectuals lack the physical courage to be straightforward in their dealings and therefore they are devious and deceitful. Labour people such as Attlee, Bevin, Roy Mason, Don Concannon, Jo Gormly, Chapman , Edmonds had the physical courage to be straight forward with their dealings with people.

The honest and straightforward dealings which was hall mark of Britain from about 1850 to mid 1980s was based on personal morality. The saying " I may be poor but I am honest " was a commonly heard phrase. The success of the Jarrow Marchers was because it comprise poor but honest men,many who had fought in WW1 and only wanted an honest days pay for an honest days work.

Comparing the honesty of the Jarrow Marchers and Huhne, just shows how many people in positions of influence have become corrupt.

Aug 22, 2013 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

Re: Paul Mathews

> one significant detail seems to be missing.one significant detail seems to be missing.

Unfortunately Zilkha Biomass is a private company. If it was listed on any of the major stock exchanges then they would have an obligation to reveal all relevant information. I would argue that the European chairman being convicted of perverting the course justice is a relevant detail.

Aug 22, 2013 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Many many years ago I heard an interviewer talkng to the father of a youg boy who had stolen some pencils from the local department store.

Interviewer. Were you surprised that your son had stolen these pencils?

Father. " I was shocked, I never thought that a child of mine would do such a thing. All he had to do was ask me and I would have got some for him, FROM WORK"

It has been my experience that most people take advantage of the position they find themselves in,

Much as I would like to condemn this type of behavior, I would need to return a few pencils to a few companies, first.

Aug 22, 2013 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

Bioenergy business is based on mandated demand, not real demand. Huhne is hired for his knowledge of how to keep the mandates in place.

Every barrel of biodiesel produced prevents the production of a barrel of conventional diesel but also removes food from the supply chain. Frederic Bastiat's Broken Window Fallacy writ large: diesel and food or diesel only. Huhne makes the world a poorer place and profits from that.

Aug 22, 2013 at 10:52 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat

Charlie

Our moral standards are being harmonised with our lords and masters.

They have to quite a large extent created the wonderful technological thrill that is the modern world. I genuinely don't have a problem with that as long as we refer to them as The Mafia instead of America .

Aug 22, 2013 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

For Petes sake it was ridiculous to be sent to prison for such a piffling offense anyway. Some politicians have arranged million pound "consultancy" kickbacks to their family, started wars on fabricated evidence, arranged government contracts that benefitted them personally, bought houses with taxpayer money, presided over waste of taxpayers money on a massive scale, taken Chairmanships with companies they personally privatised and yet we send politicians to prison for minor traffic offences and 5000 quid expense claims. Barmy!

Aug 22, 2013 at 11:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

I don't know if Huhne's new job involves commuting to the US. If so will he have difficulty in obtaining a US visa?

"According to United States immigration law, not all criminal offences are considered grounds for inadmissibility. In other words, not ALL criminal records should be classified as inadmissible by the Customs Agent. The keywords here are: “Moral Turpitude”. Any crime the U.S may deem to have involved “Moral Turpitude”, will be grounds for inadmissibility. So, what then, is a crime of “Moral Turpitude?”
A crime of “Moral Turpitude” is a crime which demonstrates the potential lack of moral character of the person who commits such an offence."

I would have thought that perverting the course of justice (lying to the police) is surely a crime of 'Moral Turpitude'.

Aug 22, 2013 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered Commenteralleagra

Re: JamesG

He was sent to prison for perverting the course of justice, not for a minor traffic offence. Perverting the course of justice is a serious offence.

It is irrelevant how much corruption there is in politics. If only the most serious offences were ever prosecuted then burglaries, muggings and theft would never be prosecuted because other people are committing murder, child abuse etc.

Aug 22, 2013 at 11:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

"Without the addition of artificial fertilizer energy, plants are limited to getting their energy from the sun. "

As far as I am aware, there is no energy supplied by fertilisers. Only what it says on the bag - N,P,K,Ca,Mg,S,Fe,B,Cl,Cu,Fe,Mn,Mo,Zn,Ni. Plants fertilised or not only get all their energy from the sun. The growth of those not fertilised is limited by the availability of soil nutrients, water and CO2, and temperature.

Aug 22, 2013 at 11:47 AM | Unregistered Commenterfilbert cobb

Charlie

You left Denis Healey off your list. Royal Engineers, beachmaster at Anzio. Standing on the beach in a Major's uniform, armed with a Browning pistol, directing traffic with the Hun snipers pinging at him.

'Twas ever thus for the Engineers.
Ubique.

Aug 22, 2013 at 11:50 AM | Registered CommenterHector Pascal

My observation is that widespread corruption leads to believing in stupid ideas like AGW, and manifests into specific problems like idiocratic energy policies. Many in the political class are becoming so ignorant of actual work and how capitalism functions, they think this sort of insider dealing and favor selling is good business practice.

Aug 22, 2013 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered Commenterlurker, passing through laughing

Ssat (Aug 22, 2013 at 10:52 AM)

The only flaw in your argument is that you have not taken into account the amount of conventional diesel required to produce bio-diesel.

Aug 22, 2013 at 11:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

The American finance industry is a revolving sewer within a sewer in which such things as multi billion dollar drug money laundering is ignored. Politicians go from the private sector to the Treasury and back again.

Aug 22, 2013 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

Surely the obvious and crucial reaction to Huhne's job is to instigate anti-corruption investigations into the whole of the DECC. With Huhne's appointment the industry expresses its view that its policy-maker is corrupt. We need no more evidence to launch the investigation.

Time to get angry and time to get tough. This is prima facie evidence that our energy bureaucrats are corrupt. Send in the policy and get the handcuffs on quick.

Aug 22, 2013 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterTaylor

Radical,

Bastiat's brick-thrower requires food to provide the energy to throw the brick: no flaw.

All energy requires energy to produce it. The fact that biodiesel production is spectacularly inefficient is just another argument against it.

Aug 22, 2013 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

He's "lucky" that his sentence was only 8 months. A penalty for perverting the course of justice should, IMHO, be much more severe for somebody elected to serve the people and employed as a government Minister.

If memory serves; foreigners convicted of a crime, with a sentence of more than a year, may not be employed in the USA. My understanding was that they may not, in general, be admitted to the country at all.

Aug 22, 2013 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterBernd Felsche

Clive Best

Yes I forgot the bit from Animal Farm - some are more equal than others - air travel and fast cars for the select few saving the planet!

Aug 22, 2013 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

One American feature we are adopting is universal schadenfreude.

The reason Cameron is trying to starve the mentally ill and cancer patients off benefits is that the miserable person with a glass of wine in one shaking hand and a useless antidepressant pill in the other knows it could easily be him/her next.

He is now petrified to complain about anything. At work or elsewhere. According to Alan Rusbridger, the NSA is listening to everything anyway.

Aug 22, 2013 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

BTW: I get emailled several offers a week of jobs at "environmental enterprise searching for representation internationally".

I hope Huhne's job is with one of those companies.

Aug 22, 2013 at 12:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterBernd Felsche

Clive Best...Aug 22, 2013 at 10:07 AM:
much as I dislike disagreeing with your comments, I can report an even more stupid idea from Australia. The Beyond Zero Emissions Project has the idea that all electricity can be supplied by 'renewable' energy. (They have a web site http://bze.org.au/ recommended only to those with low blood pressure and vast tolerance of gross stupidity, or those who like banging their head on a concrete wall).

Faced with the "rare" possibility that renewables cannot supply continuous predicable power every hour of the year, they feel that pyrolysis of wheat would provide fuel enough for gas turbines to take up the slack. The resulting product would be corrosive, foul smelling, irritant (if not toxic), flammable and would need to be transported in Stainless Steel (316 grade minimum) rail wagons; somehow the fuel necessary to do this doesn't appear in the energy budget.

So all of Australia's wheat crop would be pyrolyzed, stored and transported to cover the energy shortfall in the electricity market but not counted in the emissions of doing so, with a conversion rate of approximately 0.27. The 'fuel' would be burnt in O.C. Gas Turbines to cover those rare days when there is cloud cover or no wind. Guess what happens to the price of breed. Perhaps "let them eat cake" is their new slogan.

Aug 22, 2013 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

Corruption is also a feature of business also, as the evidence shows.

Aug 22, 2013 at 12:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve

ssat

I think Radical is right, you stated:

Every barrel of biodiesel produced prevents the production of a barrel of conventional diesel but also removes food from the supply chain.

However the paper stated that it takes 1 barrel of diesel to create 1.25 barrels of bio-diesel, therefore you should have said:

Every barrel of biodiesel produced only prevents the production one fifth of a barrel of conventional diesel but also removes food from the supply chain.
My emphasis

Aug 22, 2013 at 12:54 PM | Registered CommenterDung

It is not just biodiesel that removes food from the supply chain..intensive growing of palm oil for export for many food products in the UK does that also, so a double hit for some of the world's poorest

Aug 22, 2013 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve

filbert cobb write:

As far as I am aware, there is no energy supplied by fertilisers. Only what it says on the bag - N,P,K,Ca,Mg,S,Fe,B,Cl,Cu,Fe,Mn,Mo,Zn,Ni. Plants fertilised or not only get all their energy from the sun. The growth of those not fertilised is limited by the availability of soil nutrients, water and CO2, and temperature.

It is the energy to make fertilizers comes from fossil fuels, and without fertilizers the world's population would be limited at < 1 billion.

"In 1909, Fritz Haber discovered the chemistry of converting natural
gas into ammonia (i.e., converting fossil fuel into plant fuel). Ammonia
(NH3) is a potent organic fuel for most bacteria and plants which have the
ability to metabolize its nitrogen and hydrogen energy. Placing ammonia
in the soil to fuel plant growth is known as “nitrogen fixing.” It can be
done naturally and slowly by symbiotic soil and root bacteria using photosynthesis energy borrowed from their host plant, or it can be done artificially and quickly by humans manufacturing it and plowing it into the soil. The manufacture of ammonia is second only to plastics in consumption of US industrial energy, and 80 percent of ammonia goes into making fertilizer."

Aug 22, 2013 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterClive Best

@Graeme 3.

The Beyond Zero Emissions Project has the idea that all electricity can be supplied by 'renewable' energy.
.

Presumably then they also breathe through a filter device to enable Carbon Capture from all their hot air !

If you want to see just how far the UK has progressed in "tackling climate change" by investing billions of pounds in renewable energy take a look at a web page I have just set up.

A reality check for wind power

Check it out by clicking above.

The graph shows the last 24 hours energy supply using live data from the National Grid. It displays the contribution from different "fuels" to current UK electricity demand .

The contribution from wind is currently 0.25 GW or < 1% !

Aug 22, 2013 at 1:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterClive Best

Huhne's new employer (Zilkha Biomass Energy) sell a "coal-replacement" made from renewable biomass - almost certainly by using fossil fuel to remove water from biomass. Government regulation allows them to sell their products for more than fossil fuel. If you ran Zilkha Biomass Energy, wouldn't you want a prominent former political advocate of renewable energy on board ensuring that government regulation continued to force citizens to continue to buy their (unnecessarily expensive?) products? All regulation (good or bad) creates a need for businesses to hire former politicians and regulators who can help them navigate and influence the government that is regulating them. Rarely are the costs and unanticipated consequences of regulation worth the benefits.

http://www.zilkha.com/

Aug 22, 2013 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Dung / Radical

Humph :/

The 1.25:1 ratio may be OK for volume but the calorific value of biodiesel is lower by around 9-10%.

So the energy equivalence is around 1.15:1. Have I got that correct?


How bizarre can you get

Aug 22, 2013 at 3:08 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

ssat:

It is getting worse - you can have (the demonic "Big Oil") option of diesel and food, or the (some much more sensible) "green" option of less diesel and no food.

Obviously, you would have to be mad to deny the sanity of the greens!

Aug 22, 2013 at 3:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

ConfusedPhoton

I have always thought that those jet-setting and millionaire worthies in the green/climate change arena are Napoleon and what they want is the rest of us to be Boxer.

Aug 22, 2013 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterRB

@Clive Best

"It is the energy to make fertilizers comes from fossil fuels"

Yes - both energy and feedstock - although the Birkeland–Eyde process gets around that. But - first find a lot of water, and a slope. None of that energy will help a fertilised crop to grow in darkness. None of this actually matters unless you subscribe to the view that emissions must be limited.

Yer man Capt Kiefer is also off-target with some of his definitions. Liquid ammonia can be injected into soil as a fertiliser. This is just a delivery method for nitrogen fertiliser application - not "nitrogen fixing".

Aug 22, 2013 at 3:38 PM | Unregistered Commenterfilbert cobb

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