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The Department of Energy reached a settlement Thursday to recover $200 million in taxpayer funds from a loan the Obama administration distributed in 2011 to finance a $1 billion solar power plant that was deemed obsolete before it could officially go online.

The settlement between the Department of Energy and Tonopah Solar Energy must now be approved by a bankruptcy court, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported.

The Department of Energy provided a $737 million loan to Tonopah in September 2011 for the purposes of financing the $1.1 billion Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project in Nevada.

The agency disbursed funds for the plant in 2011 and 2013 before the project experienced problems requiring improvements, rendering the project obsolete by 2015, Bloomberg reported in January.

Thursday’s settlement will allow the Energy Department to recoup a portion of the $424 million Tonopah owes.

The plant experienced an outage in 2016, forcing a shutdown lasting from October 2016 to July 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported in January. Another outage occurred in April 2019 and is continuing.

Both problems were a result of issues with the facility’s hot salt tanks, the Journal noted.

“This project has consistently faced technical failures that have proven difficult to overcome,” Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said in a statement.

“The Department’s decision was made after years of exhausting options within our authority to get the project back on track, given the significant taxpayer investment the prior Administration committed to this project,”

Department of Energy officials sent a default notice in September before Crescent’s only customer, NV Energy, terminated its purchase agreement.

SolarReserve, the developer behind Crescent, sued for the dissolution of Tonopah Solar Energy LLC.

The developer told a federal court in November that “the plant is moribund–neither generating energy nor revenue” and had debt of more than $440 million with “assets of much less value,” the Journal reported.

ACS Cobra, another developer that aided in the project, would control Tonopah once the Energy Department is free of its obligation, Hynes noted.

The loan was distributed three weeks after Solyndra got $535 million in government loan guarantees during former President Barack Obama’s administration before declaring bankruptcy in 2011.

Abound Solar got a $400 million loan guarantee from the Obama administration, but only used $68 million before the Energy Department cut off funding in the wake of Solyndra’s bankruptcy.

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A version of this article appeared on The Daily Caller News Foundation website.

Author: Chris White

Source: Western Journal: Trump Admin Recovers Taxpayer Cash from Obsolete Obama-Backed Solar Plant

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign rolled out an advertisement Wednesday featuring a business owner railing against President Donald Trump for supposedly not doing enough to help American businesses.

But the ad neglected to note that the owner benefited from the Paycheck Protection Program that Trump signed into law.

Tiffany Easley received $27,000 in loans from the Paycheck Protection Program in April when the economic lockdowns impacted her business, NV My Eyewear. Easley disclosed her loan during a June 11 roundtable with the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, but she did not mention the forgivable loan in the ad while thrashing Trump for “making everything worse.”

“I had to permanently close one location and furlough my employees,” Easley says in the ad. “Donald Trump and his administration left the American people behind, the people he is supposed to protect and serve. Small businesses—they need a partner in the White House, and that’s why I’m with Joe.”

She also received a much smaller grant from the Philadelphia COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund, according to an April 24 BillyPen report. The PPO loan Easley received can be forgiven if she uses it to rehire staff.

The Washington Free Beacon initially reported Easley’s role in the ad Thursday as well as her loan.

Trump signed the loan program into law in April to help businesses that are struggling after local officials instituted stay at home orders to slow the pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, China, before spreading to the United States, where it has killed more than 128,000 people.

The lockdowns resulted in tens of millions of job losses as well as a prolonged economic recession.

“Thanks to this fast surge of support for small business owners like Tiffany, tens of millions of workers continued to receive paychecks,” Ali Pardo, the campaign’s deputy communications director, told the Free Beacon, referring to what he said was the Trump administration’s quick action.

Pardo added: “The fact is, President Trump is restoring the historically strong economy he built before and there’s nothing Joe Biden can do to stop it.”

Neither Biden’s campaign nor Easily responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

Author: Chris White

Source: Daily Caller: Business Owner Trashing Trump’s COVID Response In Biden Ad Received $27,000 From POTUS’s PPP Loans

A Democratic group expected to spend millions of dollars targeting President Donald Trump received over $100,000 in stock shares from an anonymous donor in a giant Chinese tech company, according to tax filings.

American Bridge 21st Century accepted a gift in 2018 of 450 shares into Baidu, a Google-like tech company closely affiliated with China’s ruling Communist Party, according to the group’s 2018 IRS filings. The Washington Free Beacon first reported on the donation Wednesday.

It is unclear if American Bridge sold the stocks during the past two years, according to the Free Beacon’s report. Democratic operative David Brock founded the group in 2010 and has raked in $23 million in 2020, with a reported $2 million of that money coming from mega-financier George Soros.

American Bridge announced plans to spend $50 million on ads and messages targeting the president. The group is cutting ads thrashing Trump’s handling of coronavirus, or COVID-19, which originated in China before hitting the U.S. shores, where it’s killed more than 25,000 people.

A Baidu sign is seen during the fourth World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China, December 4, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

The group is running coronavirus-related ads in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all of which are battleground states that the president won in 2016 but Democrats say are in play come 2020. The group’s Facebook ads lashing out at Trump are similar to other ads criticizing the president.

“Neglect. Botched responses. Cuts at the Centers for Disease Control,” American Bridge noted in an ad that ran March 18 to 30.

American Bridge also reportedly joined an alliance in March with super pac Unite the Country to support former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential bid. Trump’s presidential campaign, for its part, is trying to use Biden’s past comments praising China as a hammer against the former vice president.

American Bridge has not responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment about the Baidu shares, nor has the group commented on the ads targeting the president, whose response has shifted from likening the virus to the flu to restricting travel to China.

Baidu is under a significant amount of Chinese party control, analysts say.

“Further, Baidu is under a greater degree of party control than the average Chinese private firm because Baidu’s business is basically dissemination of information,” Derek Scissors, an academic at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, told the Free Beacon.

Scissors’s work focuses on China’s economy.

Author: Chris White

Source: Daily Caller: A Left-Wing Group Targeting Trump Accepted $100K In Stock From A Chinese-Controlled Tech Firm, Filings Show

The data-mining company that was responsible for locating terrorist Osama bin Laden is reportedly working with the Trump administration on a bold plan to measure the coronavirus outbreak.

Palantir is aiding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to deploy geolocation technology as a way of tracking the outbreak, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. Other tech companies are providing similar services for the government, the report noted, citing documents it obtained.

Palantir helped military officials avoid roadside bombs in Iraq, as well as locate bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks.

Google and others are providing the government help locating people through their phones, as well as facial-recognition tech that can assist in finding people who contacted individuals who later tested positive for coronavirus, WSJ noted, citing sources familiar with the matter.

The WSJ did not explain why the sources spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Clearview AI, a facial recognition company that got in hot water in recent weeks for its work with the government, is also part of a task force brainstorming ways to help the government with coronavirus, or COVID-19, which began in Wuhan, China, in November 2019. Palantir said it’s putting privacy concerns first.

Clearview AI drew scrutiny after The New York Times reported in January that the company swiped 3 billion images from Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms. The NYT also noted that law enforcement agencies used the company’s technology to identify sex abuse victims.

A woman stands beside the logo of the U.S. multinational technology company Google during the VivaTech trade fair (Viva Technology), on May 24, 2018 in Paris. (ALAIN JOCARD/AFP via Getty Images)

“Data-driven responses to the Covid-19 pandemic must treat good data governance, including privacy and civil-liberties protections, as guiding concentrations along with the mission objectives, not as afterthoughts,” Courtney Bowman, head of Palantir’s Global Privacy and Civil Liberties Engineering team, said in a press statement.

Privacy experts are apparently worried.

“We understand that given we are in this crisis, that some temporary adjustment of our digital liberties may be necessary, however it’s really important that those adjustments be temporary,” said Adam Schwartz, a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group advocating for civil rights in the digital age.

Palantir and Clearview AI’s work comes after reports show that Google, Facebook and other tech companies met with members of the Trump administration on March 11 to hammer out a strategy to confront the outbreak.

Microsoft, IBM and Facebook had a phone-to-video meeting with top officials in the Office of Science and Technology Policy regarding ways artificial intelligence can help medical researchers develop a vaccine.

They also discussed how to tackle online misinformation on the virus, known as COVID-19. Neither the CDC nor the White House have responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

Author: Chris White

Source: Daily Caller: REPORT: Data Firm Responsible For Locating Osama Bin Laden Is Working With Trump To Take On Coronavirus Outbreak

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s campaign manager hinted Wednesday night that the Biden campaign could soon be using the billionaire’s massive digital ad machine to reach voters.

Bloomberg’s giant digital ad company, Hawkfish, would continue its work in battleground states ahead of the 2020 election, Tim O’Brien told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. He was referring to the agency that covered the air waves in slick pro-Bloomberg ads for the past four months.

“Hawkfish is an enormously successful voter identification and turnout tool,” he said, adding: “We have great field offices across the country — those are going to stay open in the battleground states. There is a lot we can continue to do on advertising.”

O’Brien, the executive editor of Bloomberg Opinion before becoming Bloomberg’s senior campaign adviser, said he will turn his attention to helping former Vice President Joe Biden win the nomination and defeat President Donald Trump in the general election.

WATCH:

Biden’s campaign was at one time considered dead in the water before his major come back in South Carolina.

Bloomberg’s campaign dumped more than $234 million into TV, radio and digital ads in the Super Tuesday states. The former Republican plowed a total of more than $500 million into his ill-fated presidential campaign, according to CNN’s analysis.

The campaign pulled out the stops on social media, with the well-heeled New Yorker reportedly hiring more than 500 so-called deputy digital organizers in California to promote Bloomberg on Instagram and elsewhere. The team was hoping to get an edge in the Golden State ahead of Super Tuesday.

Bloomberg also employed the Meme 2020 project to help elevate his name. It launched in February and worked to place posts on one account with a meme page with more than 2.7 million followers. Jerry Media’s most popular account, “FuckJerry,” also pushed posts for the New York billionaire.

Bloomberg’s team managed to produce 444,156 ad airings since he jumped into the race in November 2019, the Wesleyan Media Project noted in an analysis published on Feb. 26. Sen. Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, produced only 60,467 ad airings to Biden’s paltry, 15,700, according to the analysis.

Bloomberg’s total was also more than former Secretary Hillary Clinton aired during her entire 2016 campaign. Bloomberg’s team has not responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment regarding what will now happen to Hawkfish or any of the other digital operations the campaign used to boost the former mayor’s ill0-fated White House bid.

Author: Chris White

Source: Daily Caller: Bloomberg’s Campaign Manager Suggests Biden Could Soon Be Employing Bloomberg’s Giant Ad Machine

The Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule Thursday afternoon scaling back an Obama-era regulation farmers and energy producers said saddled them with unnecessary burdens.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the rule change in Las Vegas, effectively hemming in a regulation restricting the use of fertilizers and pesticides. President Donald Trump promised to repeal his predecessor’s “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule when he was running in 2016.

Rolling back WOTUS saves landowners, farmers and businesses from being forced to hire “teams of attorneys to tell them how to use their own land,” Wheeler told reporters at a meeting of the National Association of Home Builders. The rollback is one of many the president is administering.

Trump rolled back more than 90 environmental rules and regulations during his first three years in office, The New York Times reported in December. The NYT relied on an analysis from Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School and other sources to keep tabs on the president’s numbers.

The president often touts his record of nixing former President Barack Obama’s regulatory regime.

“I terminated one of the most ridiculous regulations of all: the last administration’s disastrous Waters of the United States rule,” Trump told the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention Sunday. “That was a rule that basically took your property away from you.”

The agricultural industry championed the move ahead of Wheeler’s official announcement.

“This is a big win for farmers, and this is the president delivering what he promised,” Donald Parrish, senior director of regulatory affairs for the American Farm Bureau Federation, said in a statement to The New York Times, which reported Wednesday on the expected rollback.

Trump’s move to target another plank in Obama’s regulatory legacy comes as Democratic senators make their case for impeachment. The House of Representatives voted on Jan. 15 to send the articles of impeachment against Trump to the Senate and approved the House’s impeachment managers.

Author: Chris White

Source: Daily Caller: Trump Rolls Back Another Obama-Era Enviro Rule As Impeachment Trial Drags On

President Donald Trump said Monday that he will “strongly consider” testifying in the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

“Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!” the president said in a tweet, referring to his possible testimony.

The comment came after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested on Sunday’s “Face the Nation” that the president could “come right before the committee and talk … or he could do it in writing.”

The Trump administration is directing officials not to comply with the inquiry, which sprang up after Trump requested Ukraine’s president investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son’s business ties in the country. House Democrats voted in support of an impeachment inquiry in October.

Author: Chris White

Source: Daily Caller: Trump Suggests He’ll ‘Consider’ Testifying In Impeachment Inquiry Despite Refusal To Cooperate

Former President Barack Obama illegally entered into the Paris climate agreement, a lawsuit filed Monday says, citing a legal memo the Obama administration allegedly used to justify the deal.

The lawsuit asserts that the Obama administration argued the agreement could be signed without Senate approval because it does not set “legally binding targets and timetables.” Such justifications are a misrepresentation of the law, according to the lawsuit.

“This memo demonstrates the Obama administration’s unlawful entry into the Paris treaty,” Chris Horner, a former senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, noted in a press statement attached to the lawsuit. The memo “represents a major political and legal scandal,” he added. Horner left CEI in April.

The lawsuit seeks documents related to the memo from the U.S. State Department through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Horner is an attorney at the Government Accountability & Oversight (GAO) in April. The nonprofit group filed the lawsuit on behalf of Energy Policy Advocates. He cited a legal memo that allegedly justifies Obama’s decision to enter the climate deal, which compels the U.S. and 200 other countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions 26% to 28% by 2025.

Senate approval is required for any international deal that seeks “to adopt 1 targets and timetables,” not merely those that are “legally binding,” Horner noted in the lawsuit, referring to a referendum produced by the Senate in 1992 after the Kyoto Protocol, an international climate agreement designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. never ratified Kyoto.

U.S. President Donald Trump attends UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 2, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump announced in 2017 his intention to leave the agreement. The president promised to “cancel” the deal during his 2016 campaign, but his own White House was split on the issue. He already issued executive orders to roll back Obama-era global warming regulations.

Trump can finally make the pullout official Monday. The terms stipulate that a partnering country cannot withdraw within the first three years of submission. Trump can send a letter to the United Nations Monday announcing his intention. It won’t become official until one day after the 2020 election.

The president said during the early part of his campaign that the Obama administration poorly negotiated the Paris Agreement and did not put American workers first. Trump criticized what he believed was China and other member countries that were benefiting from U.S. funding through the deal’s financing arm.

China, one of the more than 200 other countries that signed on to the deal, is the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter and made no commitment to cut greenhouse emissions. Instead, the communist nation said it would reach peak emissions by 2030.

China is also not legally obligated to comply with the accord.

The communist country has taken steps to close down coal mines and shut down coal-fired power plants as an attempt to solve China’s poor air quality. Beijing also recently became the first Chinese city to replace all its coal power with natural gas.

Obama’s former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, Gina McCarthy, has not responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. McCarthy crafted environmental policies while she was EPA chief that helped bring the U.S. into compliance with the Paris deal.

The White House has also not responded to requests for comment.

Author: Chris White

Source: Daily Caller: Lawsuit Says Obama Entered Paris Climate Agreement Illegally, Cites Mysterious Legal Memo

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