Policy: Environment & Energy

New Energy Department grants went to firms giving mostly to Democrats

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Another round of Department of Energy grants have been awarded with the lion's share of the tax dollars going to firms that donated heavily to Democrats.

The latest grants support research for carbon capture technology, which is supposed to reduce greenhouse gas pollution but is currently too expensive and inefficient.

The Department of Energy awarded $84 million in taxpayer funds to “support the development of advanced technologies that will help enable efficient, cost-effective application of carbon capture and storage (CCS) processes for new and existing coal-fired power plants.”

Of the 14 recipients, employees of nine of the recipient firms gave $112,312 to Democrats (including $35,512 to President Obama) and left-leaning groups like Emily's List since 2010, according to OpenSecrets.org.

That compares to $25,006 donated to Republicans by employees at just five of the recipient companies.

The company receiving one of the largest grants (approximately $14.5 million) donated the most to the president and Democrats.

SRI International got three separate grants for carbon capture research and development, and employees there have given $71,800 to Democratic candidates (including $15,350 to Obama) since 2010.

SRI employees donated $7,900 to left-leaning groups, and only $18,205 to Republicans during the same period.

SRI has spent $181,500 so far in 2013 on lobbying the federal government for energy department grants and appropriations, according to lobbying disclosure forms.

ION Engineering, which received the largest single grant from the Energy Department ($15 million), had previously been awarded $5 million from the DOE for carbon capture research.

ION is located in Colorado, and Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., sits on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee.

Another Colorado-based company, TDA Research, received two grants totaling $13 million.

The Gas Technology Institute, which received a $10 million grant from the DOE, spent just over $200,000 lobbying the federal government in 2013 for grants and appropriations related to natural gas technology.

GE Global Research, a subsidiary of General Electric, which spends more money on lobbying than any other corporation and whose CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, headed Obama’s Jobs Council until it was discontinued earlier this year, received two grants totaling $6.9 million.

GE has spent $12.29 million so far in 2013 on lobbying for energy grants and appropriations.

The University of Kentucky Research Foundation, which received a $3 million grant from DOE, has spent $150,000 lobbying the federal government in 2013 on budget issues including energy appropriations.

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