U.S. Sen. Kit Bond expressed support for the planned waste-to-energy project and had harsh words for the White House during a last-minute visit to ProEnergy Services on Monday.
The Missouri Republican and vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, met with ProEnergy management and local officials for a briefing on State Fair Community College’s proposed Missouri Center for Waste to Energy. The public-private partnership seeks to establish a facility at the city’s landfill to harness methane gas for use in electricity production. The plan also would see the creation of an alternative energy training center on the SFCC campus. Bond, who is not seeking re-election for a fifth term, praised the versatility and potential of ProEnergy and vowed to seek a $1.3 million earmark to help fund construction of the training center at the college.
“We have a tremendous opportunity here to recognize the need for new sources of energy and improved existing sources in the energy field ... and, we want to try and help State Fair Community College get the resources to develop the training so we can get even more young people and people changing jobs trained to work in this field that ProEnergy is leading. This is a program which will train people to help meet energy needs for the future and build tremendous capacity for energy in our state,” Bond said.
Bond was critical of federal stimulus spending, saying the money “only drove the debt up through the ceiling and didn’t produce any long-lasting jobs,” and said he preferred funding programs like the waste-to-energy project that will allow small businesses to create new jobs.
“When talking about jobs, good jobs you get come from training people to go into productive private enterprise,” Bond said. “This is one of the areas where we have a company that is willing and able to grow. We don’t need a lot more of the so called stimulus spending. The greatest producer of jobs is small businesses.”
Bond, who was unable to return to Washington, D.C., on Monday due to weather, had a meeting with SFCC President Marsha Drennon planned for Tuesday in Washington and used his extra day to meet directly with representatives from the group behind the waste-to-energy project. Drennon said the surprise visit to ProEnergy offered the group a “more personal interaction” with Bond to solicit his support.
“I don’t think it could have been more positively received. There are no guarantees but this is a project he feels should be a priority for the state of Missouri so we are hopeful. This type of meeting was really more beneficial because the senator was able to see ProEnergy and we had a real personal time with him that wasn’t rushed,” Drennon said.
SFCC would combine a potential $700,000 Community Development Block Grant from the governor’s office set aside to develop curriculum for the training center with the $1.3 million earmark, which would provide capital funds for the training facilities. Final confirmation for the CDBG should come in late March, while the earmark would have to be approved before Bond’s final term expires at the end of this year.
The senator said he also hopes to work with ProEnergy to help utilize timber resources in southern Missouri.
“South Missouri has a lot more timber than it has income and power and ProEnergy can help convert some of that timber into the power, and into the jobs that are needed there,” Bond said.
Bond also talked about his ongoing flap with the Obama Administration regarding the handling of accused Christmas bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, especially the decision by the Department of Justice to read the suspect his Miranda rights and to charge and try him in federal court. Bond said Abdulmutallab and other “enemy combatants” are not entitled to the same rights as a U.S. citizen and should be tried by military tribunals established under the Military Commissions Act of 2009.
Bond’s criticism of how intelligence was handled by investigators during an Intelligence Committee hearing prompted White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to call for an apology from the senator.
Bonds called Gibbs’ request “a sick joke.”
The ongoing war of words escalated Sunday when White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Bond had been briefed Christmas night about the arrest and accused the senator and other Republicans of making “this a political football, and are using it for whatever political or partisan purposes.”
Bond dismissed White House criticism and said “they told me to keep my mouth shut and when they leak it and I point out the problems they want me to apologize? That’s a joke — they ought to be ashamed of themselves.”
“My frustration is that when they got (Abdulmutallab) they had about 50 minutes to question him. He is the most valuable resource we had to get current timely information on the terrorist attacks coming at us from Yemen.
After 50 minutes the Department of Justice stepped in and they mirandized him ... warned him of his rights and lawyered him up and he shut up. For five weeks he shut up, and we missed the intel that was critically important during that time,” Bond said.
Bond said the White House had also erred when it revealed that members of Abdulmutallab’s family had convinced him to cooperate with investigators, saying pointedly that the revelation had “put a big bull’s-eye on that family’s back.”
When asked if he felt the Obama Administration would share any guilt if the family, which lives in Nigeria, were harmed as reprisal, Bond said “unfortunately that would be the logical conclusion.”