Big Government: For an industry all puffed up about its supposed environmental virtue, green energy sure is attracting a dirty crowd. Witness its latest entrant, Italy’s Mafia. The mob knows a good fraud when it sees one.
Alongside strip joints, drug smuggling, human trafficking, leg-breaking and political shakedowns, Mafia soldiers have moved in on the something-for-nothing world of green energy.
The Washington Post, in a page-one story, reported last week that a major sting operation by Italian authorities yielded a swarm of corrupt front groups run not by green hipsters, but by the Cosa Nostra of Sicily and the Calabrian syndicate known as ‘Ndrangheta.
The plot was “part ‘Sopranos,’ part ‘An Inconvenient Truth,'” the Post noted, with the mob shaking down legitimate farmers for title to their land, and then accepting EU subsidies for windmill construction, paying off political players to ensure the subsidies came.
It’s the latest chapter in an ongoing story of corruption continuously surrounding green energy. In 2009, Italy’s National Association of Wind Energy boss Oreste Vigorito was busted for building wind farms on public subsidies that sopped up state cash and delivered nothing. In 2010, cops seized $2 billion in 43 solar and wind fronts from “businessman” Vito Nicastri, known as “Lord of the Winds.”
Can’t happen here? Along with pay-for-play subsidies that have rolled into politically tied companies like Solyndra, green Mafia scams have reached the Netherlands, Britain, Ireland and Spain. Meanwhile, in Germany, carbon trading has drawn corruption of its own.
Italian blogger Pasquale Trivisonne denounced the waste of these scams in Italy – with wasted farmland and noisy windmills, but zero jobs and no energy.
It’s money in the pockets of criminals. Green millionaires such as Vigorito got their seed capital from U.S. sources, Trivisonne noted. Vigorito, for one, had ties to Bryan Caffyn, founder of the “Cape Wind Project” in Massachusetts, which has been criticized for giving taxpayers little value for their money.
The Mafia only moves in on industries that have no need to create anything of value.
The green energy industry is shot through with government cash and “direction” because it can’t stand on its own. Its inability to turn a profit legitimately leaves it one of the least-free markets.
A nonfree market is like a dung heap for creepy crawlies. No wonder the face of green is increasingly a mob face. It’s an offer the Mafia can’t refuse.