Thursday, May 24, 2007

Missing the lead, or Holy Powerline, Batman!

The sneaky Bush administration performed swift and subtle "public hearings" on its plan to have the Department of Energy seize any property in New Jersey it wants -- no state or local permission needed -- for its National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors.

The East Coast plan includes a line that would send electricity from West Virginia coal mines to the Philly/New Jersey/Delaware region. More dead miners, so builders can put up more developments -- just what New Jersey needs! Didn't climate experts just tell us that area could start going underwater by, what, 2020?

But it may have set its sights on Oyster Creek nuclear power plant and other nuclear generators, too.

A company called Energetics and the DOE, before the public was told, held workshops for sparkly-eyed contractors looking at this new treasure trove of our tax money. It reminds me of the scene in the documentary, "Fahrenheit 911," in which military contractors are told how to make a bundle on the impending Iraq invasion.

Energetics' parent is VSE Corp., an old Navy defense contractor, a public company that's splitting its stock 2-to-1 on June 11.

VSE subsidiary Energetics Incorporated reported that it was awarded a new contract for engineering, technical, and management support services for the Department of Energy’s Office of Advanced Nuclear Research Office (NE-20). This four-year, task-order contract offers an opportunity for Energetics to provide engineering, technical, and management services to NE-20 for nuclear research and development programs. Energetics anticipates that work ordered under the contract could exceed $2 million.
VSE fits a pattern of many of the big opportunists, like Halliburton and Parsons, on the verge of bankruptcy when Bush took (and I mean "took") office. In 2001, VSE listed:
DESCRIPTION: VSE provides engineering services to government agencies and support for other government contractors, primarily in the areas of defense, postal services and information technology. Its largest business unit, BAV, is a joint venture with consulting giant Booz Allen & Hamilton Inc. that helps foreign governments buy surplus U.S. Navy vessels.

DEVELOPMENTS: Last year was rough for VSE, whose profit fell 37 percent ... VSE lost a major U.S. Postal Service contract in January and had to cut 100 employees. The company has taken several steps to try to turn things around. It replaced its president and chief operating officer last fall with Jim Todd from American Management Systems Inc. It named Computer Data Systems Inc. co-founder Cliff Kendall to the board of directors.
CEO Don Ervine announced a month before the U.S. invaded Iraq that he was shutting down its telecommunications unit immediately to focus on "traditional business," presumably the divisions that have been generously fueling the company ever since with federal Defense and Energy contracts.

BTW, I think the Postal Service was used by Bush I criminals in the '80s to launder the money for smuggling illegal arms to Iran (Iran?!) by smuggling cocaine out of Nicaragua. Many of those convicted then, including Elliot Abrams, are back in the saddle at the Bush II White House ranch.

How much of our money will VSE and its Energetics get for helping the White House use eminent domain to take, with no recourse (that's the key), unlimited New Jersey property?

Extra-credit reading: Some insightful members of Congress are trying to switch from old energy-hungry infrastructure to promoting green-collar jobs.

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