Noon: Hillary Clinton pushes cookstoves not gas

Marita Noon
On Twitter @EnergyRabbit
Marita Noon

On September 21, 2010, the Secretary of State announced the new Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative — with the Clinton Foundation being one of the “Strategic Partnerships and Alliances.” By November 2014, more than $400 million had been raised for the project.

Hillary Clinton, reportedly, cooked up the project while secretary of state, but it was shaped by her family foundation.

The Alliance claims to provide a solution to the “fourth worst overall health risk factor in developing countries.” Its website states: “Exposure to smoke from traditional cookstoves and open fires — the primary means of cooking and heating for nearly three billion people in the developing world — causes 1.9 million premature deaths annually with women and young children most affected.” Additionally, “inefficient cookstoves contribute to climate change through emissions of greenhouse gases.”

To remedy this problem, it would make sense for the alliance to use its money and influence to help build natural-gas-fueled power plants and infrastructure to bring electricity to the developing world. But that was not Clinton’s idea.

The Alliance’s fundraising success can be attributed to her influence as secretary of state. Before the 2010 announcement, Kris Balderston, who served as her special representative for global partnerships, on his account pressured Norway to join. They obliged with a commitment for a $600,000 “down payment.”

If you don’t know the rules, this may seem petty. However, there are regulations against the use of public office for private gain.

While at best, Clinton’s clean cookstove campaign seems slimy, and may be illegal, one might cast a blind eye if the program achieved its goals.

These so-called “clean cookstoves,” even by the Alliance’s own literature, “may last for several years” — yet only 20 percent, according to a survey cited in the Washington Post, are still in use after two years. While the Alliance has reportedly “helped drive more that 28 million stoves into the field,” most do not meet the World Health Organization’s guidelines for indoor emissions.

Defending the Alliance’s effort, Radha Muthiah, Alliance CEO, says: “There may not be the greatest health benefit, but there’s certainly a good environmental benefit.”

Rather than burning biomass, experts believe that gas, electricity, or both would be better at protecting health.

If these cookstoves don’t achieve the stated goals, why is Clinton such a proponent? As Christine Lakatos, whom I have worked with on dozens of green-energy, crony-corruption reports and who alerted me to this dirty story, found in her Green Corruption File report that Alliance work was a high priority during Clinton’s time as secretary of state. The project spanned 11 federal agencies and, so far, totals more than $114 million.

Clinton’s involvement risks, as the Washington Times points out: “Raising questions about where she drew the line between official business and aiding the family charity run by her husband and daughter.”

The answer to Clinton’s involvement, and the possible conflict of interest with her role at the State Department and “aiding the family charity,” deserves further investigation. But a hint can be found on the Alliances’ own website: carbon credits. It states: “In addition to being one of the fastest growing offset types in the voluntary market, cookstoves credits are selling for some of the highest prices observed in the voluntary carbon market.”

If Clinton becomes president, her energy policies will likely enact a cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax — which would suddenly make her cookstove project profitable.  Rather than helping bring modern power to the world’s poor, she’s prolonging energy poverty for millions in the developing world.”

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy — which expands on the content of her weekly column.