Tuesday Energy Blog: Hey, c’mon! Stop hating on algae!

23 Nov 2010 10:58 pm
Posted by: Donna

AZ House Dems nailed Governor Brewer for her prevarications on cutting funding to AHCCCS transplant patients. Not only did Brewer falsely blame the Obama administration for her administration’s cruel denial of lifesaving procedures to people who had been promised:

Brewer lie #1: Federal health care law makes it too hard to fund transplants.
The federal health care law has nothing to do with transplants in Arizona. Brewer signed into law the cuts to life-saving transplants BEFORE the federal law passed.
The federal health care law in 2010 gave Brewer a choice by saying that if Arizona wants to keep federal matching money, it needs to maintain current spending on AHCCCS. However, transplants are not included in this requirement, which shows again that federal law has nothing to do with funding transplants in Arizona.
Every other state in the country funds transplants and they are bound to the same federal law.

Brewer lie #2: Brewer says the 2009 federal stimulus act came with rules saying she can’t make any cuts to AHCCCS that would allow her to free up money to spend on transplants. She claims that all the budget money went to AHCCCS, leaving no room to fund transplants, which weren’t included in the federal requirement.
Brewer cut $60.6 million from AHCCCS after the stimulus bill passed, because the stimulus bill allowed all states to cut money from AHCCCS.

But she seems to have ‘misplaced’ $30 million in discretionary stimulus funds:

September 2010
· Brewer spends $2 million on discretionary stimulus money on algae research.

October 2010
· Bone marrow transplant patient Mark Price loses AHCCCS coverage for his transplant surgery, is saved by a benefactor/donor.
· Brewer still has $30 million of discretionary stimulus dollars in her coffers, according to state economists.

November 2010
· A family friend of liver transplant patient Francisco Felix dies and donates her liver to him.
· Felix, who is on AHCCCS no longer has transplant coverage and is left with a few hours to come up with $200,000 to pay for the transplant.
· Felix loses his opportunity and the family friend’s liver goes to someone else.
· State economists say Brewer has said she used $30 million of discretionary stimulus dollars, but has not told the public what she used them for.
· House Democrats file a public records request to find out what she spent Arizona’s tax dollars on.
· State economists say transplants will cost only $1.2 million next year.

The House Dems note on the blog post that Brewer spent $2 million on algae research in September. Yeah, I get that it could have been spent on transplants but I can’t hate on alternative fuel research. If we were dealing with a forced choice between algae and transplant patients, then by all means go with the transplants. But Brewer got $185 million in discretionary funds from Obama’s stimulus, much of which have gone to kind of law ‘n order stuff that gives GOPers a tingle up their legs. In fact, in July Brewer committed $10 million to what she called a Border Security Enhancement Program. Considering that Judge Susan Bolton blocked several key parts of SB1070 just a few days after she approved the funding (and Brewer had to know that was coming) what, exactly, are the jurisdictions awarded the money going to be doing with it? The guidelines specifically disallow using the funds for general police activities (page 7).

I realize that it’s easier to get negative public attention against something like algae research. It invokes shades of Sarah Palin railing against fruit fly research in the 2008 campaign. But that fruit fly research Palin mocked led to substantial inroads into understanding autism. Research into algae as a potential fuel source is important too, and potentially profitable to Arizona. And alternative fuels and energy independence are popular in general. As for the $10 million from Jan’s discretionary stimulus funds going to “border security”, as popular as border security is, it probably wouldn’t be too hard to find at least $2 million going to non-immigration related enforcement, especially given the Bolton decision.

Allowable Costs. The intent of this program is to provide supplemental resources to county, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to address criminal activity associated with the lack of security along the U.S. Borders. While equipment is an allowable expense, the Border Security Enhancement Program is not intended to be an equipment-centric grant and jurisdictions must consider the ongoing maintenance and operation cost associated with any equipment purchases. The following expense categories are allowable under the terms of this agreement:

 New Sworn Officers
 Personnel overtime and associated backfill cost
 Part-Time Personnel
 Travel, Per Diem and Lodging
 Vehicle and Equipment Purchases and Rentals
 Vehicle/Equipment Maintenance
 Fuel Cost and/or Mileage Reimbursement
 Equipment (For telecommunications equipment purchases the applicant must discuss the interoperability features of the equipment in their proposal, including specific information about other agencies that the equipment will communicate with)

3. Unallowable Costs. The Border Security Enhancement Program is one-time funding intended to supplement existing public safety resources, and thus, is not intended as a hiring program. Therefore,
applying funds toward hiring full-time or permanent sworn public safety officers, while an eligible activity, is done at the risk of each jurisdiction as there are currently no funds identified to sustain this
program and any funded positions into future fiscal years. Border Security Enhancement Program funding shall not be used to supplant inherent routine patrols and law enforcement operations or activities not directly related to providing enhanced law enforcement activities targeting the illegal drug trade, human smuggling, or illegal immigration. Finally, construction and/or renovation costs are prohibited under this grant application.

I guess you could call that a temporary jobs program. But what Arizona really needs are long-term investments that not only create jobs, but do something qualitatively important to the future of the human race. In other words, algae research is a good thing. As good as organ transplants. I’m disappointed in Democratic leadership for attacking it.

1 Comment(s)

  1. Comment by anonymous on November 25, 2010 7:41 am

    Major University Admits Hard Science
    Problems Relating to Algae Have Been Solved

    Arizona State University Senior Vice President Rick Shangraw recenty said “…algae will “deliver soon” because…most of the hard science problems science problems regarding algae have been solved…Now…it’s largely an engineering problem.”

    The REAL question is: Does the DOE really want the US to get off of foreign oil or do they want to give algae reserachers more grants to keep them emploeted at universities for another 50 YEARS?

    University researchers have been living on grant money and have NOT commercialized one thing.

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