San Francisco’s Solazyme also received millions in stimulus funds from DOE

by Ali Meyer     •     Washington Free Beacon

Strains of algae are shown in the strain room of Solazyme in South San Francisco, Calif. / AP

The CEO and Board of Directors of Solazyme, a company the military paid $149 per gallon for “alternative” fuel, have donated more than $300,000 to Democratic candidates and committees, according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis.

Recipients of significant donations included the Obama Victory Fund and the Democratic National Committee. Additionally, Solazyme donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

A Congressional Research Service (CRS) report found that the Department of Defense (DOD) paid Solazyme $149 per gallon for fuel made of algal oil, costing taxpayers a total of $223,500 in 2009. The group also received a $21 million stimulus grant from Department of Energy in 2009.

“Based in South San Francisco, Solazyme’s mission is to improve our lives and our planet by producing sustainable, high-performance oils and ingredients derived from microalgae,” the company states. Solazyme claims that their process serves as a better alternative to limited resources such as petroleum, vegetable oils, and animal fats.

Three members of Solazyme’s Board of Directors have donated hundreds of thousands to Dems, which include more than $50,000 in donations that benefited President Obama.

Solazyme’s co-founders, Jonathan Wolfson and Harrison Dillon, have together donated more than $7,000 to Democratic candidates and committees.

A member of Solazyme’s management team, Peter Licari, donated to both Republicans and Democrats before he was employed by Solazyme. Licari donated $16,000 to Republicans and more than $25,000 to Democrats while he was employed by Complete Healthcare Resources.

“Solazyme has been propelled over the years by an extraordinary group of people,” states Wolfson. “Our employees, customers, partners and investors have been and will continue to be our greatest resources.”

DOD has stated that one of its strategic energy goals is to expand its energy supply options by investing in alternative fuels such as the kind Solazyme produces. This type of renewable fuel comes at much higher cost than petroleum fuel.

From fiscal years 2007 to 2014, the DOD purchased 32 billion gallons of petroleum fuel for $107.2 billion, which comes to $3.35 per gallon. This means that Solazyme’s price per gallon was 44 times that of the average price of regular petroleum fuel.

Christine Travis, manager of corporate communications for Solazyme, said the $149 per gallon figure is “incorrect” and that the number is inflated due to research and development costs.

“The dollar amount you cited is incorrect because that total cost includes the R&D portion we performed at the request of the DOD that was part of the testing and certification program with the Department of Defense and the U.S. Navy,” said Travis.

Travis says that this month Solazyme announced they are supplying renewable fuel to UPS and that it has been a few years since they’ve worked with DOD on fuels.

However, she praised the Navy’s effort to increase their use of alternative fuels.

“We applaud the Navy for pursuing the bold goal of supplying its operations with 50 percent alternative fuels by 2020. Our dependence on oil from foreign nations—some of them hostile, some of them unstable—is one of the greatest threats to our security as a nation and to our allies overseas who rely on Persian Gulf oil and have no or insignificant indigenous petroleum resources of their own.”

In regards to co-founders and board of directors donating to Democrats, Travis said Solazyme has no policy on political contributions.

“Our company does not have a PAC, and our company does not have a policy on employee or board member political contributions,” Travis said. “Anyone in our company can support anyone they want.”

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