Pelosi: is she punting on SF Clean Energy Act?

Pub date August 25, 2008
SectionBruce Blog

Is Pelosi for clean energy in Washington and Denver but standing with PG&E and punting on supporting the Clean Energy Act in San Francisco? Is she investing with T. Boone Pickens and his Clean Energy Fuels Corp. in Texas and punting on clean energy in San Francisco?

By Bruce B. Brugmann

Paul Hogarth, the agile staff writer and columnist for the Beyond Chron website, asked a key question of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a press conference this morning on the first day of the Democratic Convention in Denver.

Hogarth reported on Beyond Chron that he had asked Pelosi that, “because she endorsed Al Gore’s ambitious goals of energy independence by 2019, does she support San Francisco’s Clean Energy Act (Prop H)–which calls for energy independence by 2040.”

“I haven’t see the text,” she told Hogarth, but I support going in that direction. This timetable of energy independence is a path we hope to go on.”

Hogarth made the proper point: Maybe, he noted, she should have sent a proxy to the Democratic County Central Committee endorsement meeting, referring to the recent vote by the DCCC approving the Clean Energy Act. She did not send a proxy to vote and her quote to Hogarth is her only known public response to the measure. The head on Hogarth’s story made his point more direct: “Pelosi Schools Traditional Media; Punts on SF Clean Energy Act.”

Meanwhile, the punting question was raised again for Pelosi by a major story in the Wall Street Journal (8/23/08). The Journal reported that Pelosi and her husband Paul invested between $50,000 and $100,000 in T. Boone Pickens’s Clean Energy Corporation in Texas. The Journal said the investment “could benefit from legislation the California Democrat favors to boost U.S. use of natural gas.”

“The investment is a small fraction of the Pelosis’ net worth. But it highlights the unlikely alliance evolving between Mr. Pickens, an old man with a long history of support for Republican causes, and powerful Democrats who have welcomed Mr. Pickens’s recent campaign for developing alternatives to oil.” (B3: Pickens was a major funder of the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, which helped defeat John Kerry in the last presidential election.)

Drew Hammill, a Pelosi spokesperson, told the Journal that the investment “does not raise any direct conflict of interest issues” or violate any ethics rules of the House of Representatives. “The speaker has been an advocate for increasing our country’s energy independence and for renewable energy for years, long before this purchase.”

Pelosi has always been a PG&E ally in San Francisco and Washington, notably in her move to help PG&E and the development gang privatize the Presidio and set the precedent for privatizing the national park system.

So the question for her is even more tantalizing: will she go for clean energy in Washington, Texas, and Denver but stand with PG&E and punt on the Clean Energy Act in San Francisco? We’ll try to get the questions to her. But I suggest that others work on it as well. She’s tough to pin down when it comes to PG&E, clean energy, and renewables back in her home district. B3

PS: How much are the Pelosis worth? Anywhere from $15 million to $156 million (including real estate), according to the The Journal. The investment amounts to less than one per cent off the Pelosis’ total 2007 public and private investment assets, which, not including real estate, are estimated at between $15 million and $52 million, based on the Speaker’s disclosure record, according to the Journal. Including real estate and bank account assets, the Pelosis’ net asset value is estimated at between $35 million and $156 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.