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Giving Count Potemkin a Bad Name

George W. Bush: giving Count Potemkin a bad name.

Stygius: The NREL as Potemkin village : As expected, this Tuesday President Bush is coming to Colorado to deliver the Good News about alternative energy and energy conservation at the National Renewable Energy Lab. This comes just after the neglected NREL has been devastated by layoffs due to budget cuts and funding diversions. If they are expecting Coloradans to suspend their disbelief during the visit, the White House will sadly be mistaken.

It's galling that NREL has become the administration's latest Potemkin village in its permanent public relations campaign. From the Loveland Report Herald:

The senior biochemical engineer had worked for the laboratory for 22 years, converting biomass, such as trees, into fuels and chemicals, such as ethanol. His computer was disabled and his phone turned off; a manager escorted him out of the building at 3 p.m. "How do you expect, after 22 years, to wrap everything up in a few hours?" Mohagheghi said, adding that he lost his job and some dignity that day. "I didn't deserve to be treated this way," he said.

The layoffs came after President Bush's State of the Union address Jan. 31 sparked optimism at NREL. The president said Americans were addicted to oil, and he vowed funding for renewable energy research. Bush plans to visit NREL on Tuesday to reinforce his dedication to renewable energy.

Heightening the visit's surreality is the rank hypocrisy of Congressman Bob Beauprez, who's atrocious record of neglecting NREL accelerated the layoff of its scientists.

Beauprez voted for $28 million in cuts to NREL. NREL is located in his district. In addition, he refused to sign a letter requesting that President Bush restore the funding to NREL. In addition, on November 8, 2005, a bipartisan letter from 100 members of Congress [PDF] was sent to President Bush urging him to "fully fund" renewable energy programs as authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Beauprez refused to sign that letter.

That isn't stopping "Both Ways" Bob from living up to his monker; for today, in a Rocky Mountain News op-ed, Bob Beauprez has the temerity to lecture us on an out-of-control Congress: "There is no place in the country where the promise of this new technology is more evident than NREL. In the past two years, unfortunately, congressional earmarks have diverted precious resources away from NREL. The diversion of these funds into other institutions has served to undermine the mission at NREL and other national laboratories. I believe this is a mistake that must be corrected."

Indeed it is, Congressman. You, however, are obviously not the man for the job.

More reality, please.