Biofuel Bilking, Old Adages & New Technologies

It was only a matter of time.  In many ways, the charlatans have been coming out of the woodwork for a while already, selling snake oil to the Alternative Energy movement and industry.   What makes this one so surprising is that it wasn’t a false claim about the products’ ability — no water-burning car, this.  Far more typical, in ways, a former state ethics committee chairman, Jack Boykin (of Alabama) was selling the vapors — an investment in fuel that never was.  What?  A politician perpetrating a lie, a sham, a scam?  Say it isn’t so!

Yet none other than Vinod Khosla, the Silicon valley mogul who has been involved with and supportive of alternative energy vehicles) was one of the victims.  How much was he played for?  How about more than $12 MILLION dollars.  That’s two million dollars more than the judgement against Cello.  You don’t have to have invented the abacus to wonder where the other $2 million is going to.

Testimony given during the hearings stated that Boykin talked  Khosla into investing without “due dilligence.”  One would think someone with $10 million to invest would know better.  Let’s just say that Khosla’s sincere interest in moving alternative energy forward got the best of him and leave it at that.

Should this give us all cause to be concerned?  To be sure, there will be other cons perpetrated, and products and technologies that don’t pass muster.  We’ve heard about a guy who wants to build a mag-lev train system in an evacuated tube (think Artificial Space) and run it east to west across Florida.  My hand never even twitched in the direction of my wallet on that one.

As we move into a new age, we’re doing to need open minds and new ways of thinking.  But let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.  Let’ s just hold on to some good old fashioned common sense, too.  That and the old adage “The proof is in the pudding” should serve us well as we make our way in this new Going Green century.

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