Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Power The Media Technology

Khosla, Romm Fire Back At '60 Minutes' Cleantech Exposé 117

An anonymous reader writes "CBS recently aired a segment on its 60 Minutes TV newsmagazine critical of what it referred to as the 'Cleantech' industry, i.e. clean energy startups, often founded by Silicon Valley/IT businessmen and engineers. Correspondent Lesley Stahl adapted the familiar confrontational 60 Minutes style when interviewing venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, an investor in biofuel startup KiOR and dozens of other clean energy businesses, then following up with other industry experts who appear to refute Khosla's assertions. Stahl ran down a list of high profile taxpayer-subsidized industry failures and suggests that private investors such as Khosla seem to be losing money as well. Khosla has just responded in the form of an open letter to CBS News which lists allegedly false and inaccurate statements in the 60 Minutes program, while pointing out that the fossil fuels industry is also heavily subsidized by government. Khosla, a longtime general partner at Kleiner Perkins before starting his own firm, was one of four Stanford graduate students who co-founded Sun Microsystems in the early 1980s. Physicist and climate blogger Joseph Romm posted a response to what he referred to as the '60 Minutes hit job on clean energy' last week; other environmentalists have also weighed in."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Khosla, Romm Fire Back At '60 Minutes' Cleantech Exposé

Comments Filter:
  • by ebonum ( 830686 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @03:19AM (#45962483)

    I would have respect for 60 Minutes, if they started the NSA interviews with: "A lot of people think you should be in jail and branded a traitor to your country. You seem to act with complete disregard of the Constitution and you wrongly assumed you wouldn't get caught. Plus, you haven't stopped any terrorism, you live in secret with no over site, you've pissed away billions in taxpayer money and all the while you are drawing crazy high pay. What say you?"

    That is the "familiar confrontational 60 Minutes style"

  • What a surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Indy1 ( 99447 ) <> on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @03:24AM (#45962505) Homepage

    Like most press, 60 minutes engages in the run of the mill "assault journalism" thats heavy on accusations, and light on the facts. Anyone who takes ANY journalist at face value needs to be hit with a clue by 4.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @03:26AM (#45962513)

    The Free press hasn't been free for a long time and the problem is you/we have done nothing to fix it and will continue to do nothing.

  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @03:40AM (#45962561) Journal

    It doesn't matter what is true, only what people believe is true.

    There is a lot of money at stake if anyone pokes holes in the narrative that 'green energy is a job killing boondoggle.'
    Even more important than money, there are ideological principles at risk if Big Government is shown to succeed at [anything].

    The real tragedy of it all is that the USA needs a comprehensive and coherent energy policy.
    When the government tells everyone what it is focusing on and where it will be spending money,
    big business can follow because they know that their expenditures will not be a solo risk.

    Instead we've ended up with unconnected subsidies that still get treated with aggressive hostility by conservative voices.
    Their solution? More fracking and more coal. Not exactly a progressive or forward looking vision of our future.

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr.mac@com> on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @06:19AM (#45963181) Journal

    The real tragedy of it all is that the USA needs a comprehensive and coherent energy policy.


    What the USA needs w/r/t energy is for the government to fuck off and let supply and demand sort it out. When solar power becomes more cost effective than natural gas, it won't take tax money to make it happen.


  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @06:27AM (#45963221) Journal

    That is the "familiar confrontational 60 Minutes style"

    I escaped from communist China in the early 1970's, and when I landed on the United States of America, I was totally awed by many things that I could never ever dream of when I was in China.

    One of those was the integrity of the journalists of the United States of America.

    The Vietnam War was on at that time, and there was plenty of "Patriotism" in America in such that "if you don't agree with us you get outta here" attitude, but yet, there were journalists who braved the societal norm in reporting (and printing the news in the newspapers) what actually took place in Vietnam.

    Many of those journalists were called "traitors" and they were treated as "Viet Cong Supporters" back then, but yet, their integrity remained intact and report the news as it was (not the propaganda the government wanted them to report).

    And the subsequent episode of the dethronement of Richard (I am not a crook) Nixon because of the "deep throat" saga.

    I was totally awed by the bravery and the diamond-hardened integrity of those American journalists.

    Today ? American journalism ?

    Ptuuuuiiii !!

  • by taiwanjohn ( 103839 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @07:19AM (#45963445)

    Amory Lovins, the well known clean-tech maven, agrees with you. He advocates removing all energy subsidies to create a truly level playing field. But the Big-Oil crowd will never let that happen, because they know that without the massive support they get from the government, they would rapidly be crushed by competition from renewables. In the end, it doesn't matter though, because renewables keep getting better and cheaper while fossil fuels keep getting more expensive. It's just a matter of time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @07:39AM (#45963535)

    1) the 60min program was about cleantech. All the comments about oil being worse, carbon emission externalities, global warming, etc. are pointless. Is not that they are not true, is that the money invested in cleantech should maybe have been invested differently: "this people flushed 100 billion down the drain!" (if it were true) is not justified with "but these others burned 500 billion in a bonfire!" (even if it were also true). There are obvious problems with fossil fuels and lots of money where used to try to find a solution, the program's thesis is that that money was not correctly expended. So please avoid going about GW woes time and time again.

    2) After reading the script and Khosla's allegations, I am with CBS.

    3) I am not from the USA (and so it was not my money what was allegedly wasted), so I think I have a more detached position here. Many of the comments seem to simply attack CBS because the program did not acknowledge their pre existing political ideas. I think that is wrong, unless you can articulate your objections.

    4) The idea that the program conveys is that the money spent gave not good results and then much of that invested is sold at great loss to chinese investors that probably will benefit more than the USA taxpayers. I think that the program succeeds in that.

    5) Even so, maybe some of the cleantech projects will ultimately succeed and gave back so many benefits that covers all the failures we see now (that is one of the opinions from Khosla), but I find the right now doubtful. Even the company many cite as successful (Tesla), is right now just a company that makes expensive luxury cars to enormously wealthy people (of course that can chang in the future, but it is so right now), if that is the best outcome of so many public money invested, the results are really bad.

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @07:54AM (#45963599)

    But I don't think you know what it means...

    while pointing out that the fossil fuels industry is also heavily subsidized by government

    Every single, solitary last time I've seen this argument trotted out by environmentalists, leftists, etc. the only thing they can point to is the various governments involved giving them tax credits. In their minds, letting the fossil fuel industry keep more of its revenue is akin to the various loans and other goodies thrown at the clean energy sector.

  • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @08:08AM (#45963641)

    Also, that cheap energy is a key driver of the rest of the economy. Cheap power and transport is what lets other industries thrive. It makes shipping goods halfway around the world and back economical, allowing for production to be consolidated in large factories to benefit from an economy of scale (and cheaper labor costs/regulations) and brings down the cost of goods. Cheap petrol allows convenient long-distance travel - the car created the suburbs, by allowing people to commute to work further from home. Businesses drawing in customers from a large area allows for the existence of the mega-store and shopping mall. Take away the cheap, subsidised energy and there will be knock-on effects in other industries.

  • subsidy misnomer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by camg188 ( 932324 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @09:18AM (#45964021)

    cash giveaways from government to the entire fossil fuel industry

    The last I checked, no cash was being given away to oil companies. Some people use the term "subsidies" for political purposes when a more accurate definition would be "doing business with."
    The two biggest so-called subsidies are the strategic oil reserve and HEAP heating assistance. Both of which involve the government simply buying fuel, not handing out money.

    It would be like saying that Boeing is subsidized because the government bought a bunch of jets from them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @10:50AM (#45964967)
    If we implement the "carbon tax" for 10 minutes then remove it. Is that a $500B benefit, a tax that was reversed, a $500B penalty to green industry that dont benefit from the removal of the tax? Its all just semantics.What if we ban CO2 and the business loses Trillions, that's a penalty, if we dont is that a benefit?
    Fact is CO2 or any kind of polution is damaging and you have no price for it, people who benefit from pumping it out are getting a huge benefit whatever that $ amount is. Letting people/companies pollute when we know there is a better way is a form of subsidy.
  • by cyberchondriac ( 456626 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @01:07PM (#45966535) Journal
    I'm not disputing that the NSA has far overstepped their bounds, but also bear in mind we don't really know what terrorism they may or may not have stopped. They're not likely to publicly publish their doings, good or bad, to avoid tipping off enemies (among other obvious things). Exposing anything about their accomplishments, in anything other than the vaguest detail which would satisfy no one here, could also potentially expose their methodologies or contacts, or at least, point to a clue. It's not their protocol to take those risks, which also becomes very convenient for them. Such is the nature of security.
    Granted, they didn't stop the Boston bombers, but there might have been other attempts we aren't told about that they foiled. Or maybe there weren't. But I'm not going to assume either way.

It's fabulous! We haven't seen anything like it in the last half an hour! -- Macy's