U.S. energy bill beneficiary redefines going green

December 13, 2011

By Daniel Indiviglio
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Imagine buying stock in a company and then being in position to help change the law to enhance its value. Welcome to the U.S. Congress. A fuel subsidy proposal, if passed, would enrich Representative Nancy Pelosi because of her stake in a “green” firm that stands to benefit. It’s the latest sign that congressional trading rules are in desperate need of an overhaul.

Amid the flurry of legislation Congress is rushing to complete by year’s end is the New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act of 2011, or NATGAS Act. The proposal would, among other things, provide subsidies for driving vehicles powered by natural gas.

Clean Energy Fuels is one company that needs the government’s helping hand. It operates natural gas fueling stations for trucks. Clean Energy even said in its most recent quarterly earnings report that the success of its business plan depends in part on federal tax credits on natural gas. When a Senate version of the bill was introduced last month, Clean Energy shares jumped 15 percent.

Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens owns a big slug of the company and has been on a campaign advocating for the legislation. The billionaire is oddly aligned with Pelosi, though her stake is smaller. The Democrat’s asset disclosure indicates she owns as much as $100,000 of Clean Energy stock. And earlier this year, she listed the NATGAS Act as one of the priorities for her “Make It In America” agenda.

Pelosi wouldn’t be the first lawmaker to gain financially from her legislative post. The sticky problem of congressional insider trading has been getting more attention on the back of studies showing that stock portfolios modeled on the trading of legislators regularly beat the market.

But the problem goes even deeper, as evidenced by the NATGAS Act. Pelosi wouldn’t be guilty of insider trading. Her influence as a lawmaker would merely help her profit. Getting rid of such undue perks should be the kind of agenda item that could unite far-reaching constituencies, from members of the Tea Party to those Occupying Wall Street.

Comments

One name immediately comes to mind – Haliburton? At least the company Pelosi has an interest in is one that has potential to do more good. AND she disclosed her conflict of interest.

Posted by BuffaloGirl | Report as abusive
 

I love it: Liberals and their obsession with Haliburton. With Obama, the list is so long you can’t keep up. Solyndra, GE just to name a few. And now that company that got the military sweetheart deal of $16 per gallon for biofuel. Excusing bad behavior because its end is good in your eyes is just an excuse for massive corruption, which we are seeing today in the Obama Administration. Oh yes, then there’s that smallpox vaccine no one needed. And the other solar company that took 1.2 billion loan dollars that’s on the verge of imploding. What a record to write about, showing such integrity and transparency. NOT.

Posted by mbabbitt | Report as abusive
 

I Broke the news on this in 2008 with my post http://michigantaxes.com/wordpress/2008/ 08/giving-us-gas/

Pelosi is a crook. She held this country hostage to $4/gallon gas collapsing the working poor income and contributing to mortgage default.

All so she could have her own little windfall.

Posted by JGillman | Report as abusive
 

The obvious way to resolve this problem is BEFORE winning elections, members should be in ALL CASH, no stock or gold or commodities. Nor should they be allowed to buy any securities while in office. Either that or recuse any voting. They need to be totally impartial without any financial gain based on their voting decisions. It may not ever really happen but that is the only real way to solve this problem.

Posted by Richard1956 | Report as abusive
 

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