United States

United States

O'Leary defended

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Wind lobbyists were among those who rallied to defend US Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary, criticised by cabinet members for wasting taxpayer money in overseas trade missions with no clear economic value. Zond's Ken Karas was among the nine executives who defended O'Leary as she was about to testify at a House of Representatives investigative subcommittee. At issue was $3.2 million worth of trade missions led by O'Leary in 1994-95 to India, Pakistan, China and South Africa. "The tax return to the US government would far exceed the dollars DOE spent on the trade missions," said Karas, assessing the value of orders Zond got because of a mission to China. Republican law-makers have cited early claims by O'Leary that the missions will lead to as much as $19 billion in potential benefits, whereas the critics say that just $2 billion in firm contracts actually arose from the trips. O'Leary has conceded that trade missions were marred by management and accounting errors -- a view that was backed up by an internal DOE probe -- but she has repeatedly defended the overall value of the missions to US commerce, according to news reports. Other news reports cited the General Accounting Office, the US Congress' auditing arm, as able to find just $450 million in exports because of the trips. Be that as it may, the White House 1996 publication, "Sustainable America," lauds business-government partnerships and, as an example of that success, claims that "in China, two American wind manufacturers, FloWind and Zond, have sales agreements totalling $312 million."

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