THE FAKE FACTORY THAT PUMPED OUT REAL MONEY
BY MARIO PARKER, JENNIFER A. DLOUHY, & BRYAN GRULEY
JULY 13, 2016
THe biodiesel factory, a three-story steel skeleton crammed with pipes and valves, squatted on a concrete slab between a railroad track and a field of storage tanks towering over the Houston Ship Channel. Jeffrey Kimes, an engineer for the Environmental Protection Agency, arrived there … in August 2011.
He’d come to visit Green Diesel, a company that appeared to be an important contributor to the EPA’s fledgling renewable fuels program … . In less than three years, Green Diesel had reported producing 50 million gallons of biodiesel. Yet Kimes didn’t know the company. He asked other producers, and they weren’t familiar with Green Diesel either. …
Kimes, who works out of Denver, was greeted at the Green Diesel facility by a man who said he was the plant manager. He was the only employee there, which was odd. “For a big plant like that, you’re going to need a handful of people at least to run it, maintain it, and monitor the process,” says Kimes, … . The two toured the grounds, climbing metal stairways and examining the equipment. The place was weirdly still and quiet. Some pipes weren’t connected to anything. Two-story-high biodiesel mixing canisters sat rusting, the fittings on their tops covered in garbage bags secured with duct tape. … “They showed me a log, and from that you could see they hadn’t been producing fuel for a long period of time,” he says.
Rivkin … started Green Diesel in October 2005, two months after President George W. Bush signed legislation creating the Renewable Fuel Standard program. The law directed the EPA to oversee a regulatory regime designed to foster production of alternative transportation fuels, including corn-based ethanol, as well as biodiesel derived from vegetable oils, animal fats, and used cooking grease.
The statute was a boon to renewable fuel makers—and an irritant to gasoline and diesel refiners—because it required refiners to blend at least 4 billion gallons of ethanol (for gasoline) and biodiesel (for diesel fuel) into their products in 2006, … . The program now calls for 36 billion gallons in 2022 … . Each year, the EPA sets obligations for individual refiners. Most years, ExxonMobil is on the hook to blend the largest amounts of renewables.
(My emphasis) A hugemongous ill- and hastily-conceived government program run by an agency with no relevant expertise being scammed out of 100s of millions or billions of $$s? Who could have foreseen that!
And does anyone believe Rivkin was the only scamster able to see and realize the potential for fraud in this program?