Jonathan B. Wilson

Legal Resources
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Out of Balance
Legislation for Renewable Energy

Jonathan Wilson is an Atlanta attorney with more than 19 years of experience guiding growing private and public companies.  He currently serves as the outside general counsel of several companies and is the former general counsel of (NASDAQ: WWWW) and EasyLink Services (NASDAQ: ESIC).  He is also the founding chair of the Renewable Energy Committee of the American Bar Association's Public Utility Section.

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Green Shoots?
Second quarter GDP declines, but not as much as expected.  Could the recession be coming to an end?
8:42 am edt 

The End of BigLaw?
Douglas McCollam, writing in the Wall Street Journal, comments on how the downturn has ripped through the economic model that drove the biggest law firms to get bigger:

"At bottom, what’s in question is the whole economic edifice of the modern American law firm. Like the pharaohs of old, big firms are enamored of constructing pyramids with an ever-widening base of associates and nonequity partners toiling on behalf of a narrowing band of equity partners at the top. Increasing a firm’s “leverage”—as expressed through the billable hour, one of the most pernicious creations in the annals of commerce—has been the key metric driving profitability at big law firms over the last generation. "

"Numerous studies have documented the deleterious impact this model has had upon the legal profession and clients. To date, nothing has been able to kill it. It would be ironic indeed if the economic downturn that has cost lawyers so much ended up being the very thing that saved the legal profession from its own excess. "

7:23 am edt 

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Obama Hits New Low
President Obama's approval index hit a new low today of -12%.  Also, for the first time, fewer than 50% of those polled say that they at least "somewhat approve" of his performance.  Instead, more than 50% at lease "somewhat disapprove."

12:50 pm edt 

Monday, July 27, 2009

Renewable Energy Around the Web: July 27
Here's a summary of renewable energy news from around the Web for the past week from 
12:38 pm edt 

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Has Global Warming Stopped?

Jim Manzi asks this question in response to bloggers Ezra Klein, Kevin Drum and Ryan Avent calling George Will "idiotic" and "moronic" for his statement that "If you're 29, there has been no global warming for your entire adult life." 

A few facts are worth repeating.

Fact No. 1.  The average global land-ocean temperature for the past decade was higher than in any of the previous nine decades.  Proponents of most global warming theories point to this as evidence that man-made CO2 is responsible for rising global temperatures:


Fact No. 2  Average global land-ocean temperatures for the past 10 or 12 years have remained relatively constant and, in fact, have cooled slightly:


Manzi correctly notes that ten years of temperature stability (or decline) do not necessarily disprove the global warming hypothesis.  If today is cooler than yesterday, it doesn't prove that every future day will be cooler.  As Manzi writes, "The question is at what point between 1 day and 1,000 years do I have enough evidence that I can reasonably reject the theory? "

He also notes that what valid science would require is "the escrowed set of AGW models with their predictions made over the past 20 years or so" allowing us to "enter in all data for actual emissions, volcanic activity and other model inputs for teh time from the prediction was made until today, and then run the models and compare their outputs to actual temperature change in order to build a distribution of model accuracy."

His point is so obvious, and so persuasive, that it's curious why no one has every done it. 

In fact, with the data collection and communicatino efficiencies made possible by the Web, some one ought to collect climate change models, show their predictions as of the date when made and then track their accuracy with actual data over time.  It wouldn't be very hard.  (It would probably make for a nice high school science project).  And the outcome would be a compendium of climate models and the means by which to measure their accuracy over time.

If you know of a web project like this (or if you resolve to create one yourself) please drop me a line.

3:43 pm edt 

Friday, July 24, 2009

Healthcare "Lies"
"I have been lied to" said Congressman Charlie Melancon (D. La.) after storming out of a meeting with House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, according to The Hill.  

Blue Dog Democrats on the Committee claimed that negotiations had not been proceeding in good faith as they left the meeting, indicating that Democratic support for President Obama's health care reform is falling apart. 
4:22 pm edt 

Obama Approval Slipping
Following yesterday's loss of face after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that the Senate would not have a vote on health care reform until after the summer recess, President Obama's net approval index fell to -8, its lowest rating ever.

Fewer than 50% of American now approve of the President's performance according to the Rasmussen polling firm. 

10:17 am edt 

Not Afraid of August
Now that the Senate leadership has announced that there will not be a vote on health care reform before the August recess, it is not clear when, if every the administration will be able to collect enough support to even call a vote. 

More than fifty House Democrats have felt strongly enough to sign on to one of several protest leaders to Speaker Pelosi.  The Speaker, however, has quipped that she is "not afraid of August." 

The delay, however, is certainly a tough blow to President Obama's momentum and represents a public loss of face after the President had openly and repeatedly called for a vote before the recess. 

The administration had prioritized Waxman Markey and other efforts behind health care.  If health care won't come up for a vote until after the kids are off to school, the rest of the Obama legislative platform is very much at risk. 
8:08 am edt 

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Rally: Dow Crosses 9,000
For the first time since early January the DJIA has crossed over 9,000.

11:14 am edt 

Clear Majority Oppose Obama
While President Obama continues to enjoy a personal approval rating of more than 50%, a majority of Americans oppose his key policy initiatives according to a new Gallup poll. 

According to the poll, 59% of Americans say that President Obama's proposals call for too much government spending while 52% say those proposals call for too much of an expansion in government power. 

Breaking down those results between self-described Republicans and Democrats finds that Republicans oppose Obama's policies and think they expand government power too much at rates of 90% and 83%.  Democrats continue to support Obama's policies, but even within this group 28% say his policies call for too much spending. 

Americans are, however, still inclined to grant the new president a fair amount of leeway.  In response to the question of whether the problems facing Obama are more serious than the problems facing past presidents, 66% says that our current problems are "more serious" than those faced in the past. 

Interestingly, though, is that this number has changed since the Fall of 2008.  Shortly before the Presidential election 84% of Americans said that the problems facing the next president would be more serious than the problems faced by past presidents. 
7:53 am edt 

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Right Stuff

On this 40th anniversary of the Apollo mission to the moon, it is humbling (and perhaps unsettling) to ponder what made our astronauts great and when we'll see that character again:

"Codes of personal conduct were once what Americans—great ones, at least—were all about. In his superb book “American Heroes,” Yale historian Edmund S. Morgan writes about Benjamin Franklin and George Washington that “both men cared enormously about their reputations, about their honor. Their deliberate refusals to do things, employed to great advantage in serving their country, originated in a personal ambition to gain honor and reputation of a higher order than most people aspired to.”

This is not the way we live now. Modern culture has severed many of the remaining links between merit and celebrity. We make a fetish of uninteresting, detestable, loud or unaccomplished people: Paris Hilton, Princess Di, Keith Olbermann, Michael Jackson. Disgrace can be a ticket for even greater celebrity, particularly when mixed with confession. Stoicism, on the other hand, is regarded as a form of denial, meaning borderline lunacy.

I detest anti-Americanism, but I’ll concede this: It’s hard to watch American celebrity culture at work and not feel revolted."

12:46 pm edt 

Taxation Without Representation: The New York Model
Myron Magnet lets 'em have it in this piece in the City Journal:

It's worth recalling that when the Founding Fathers led the American colonists in revolt against British oppression, they weren’t rebelling against torture on the rack or being chained in galleys or having to let aristocrats deflower their daughters. They were rebelling against taxes. To them, having to pay duties they hadn’t voted for themselves was a tyrannical taking of property—theft—and, in true Lockean fashion, they concluded that since government exists to protect life, liberty, and property, a regime that does the opposite renders itself illegitimate. What would they make, then, of today’s New York City, where 1.2 percent of the taxpayers—40,000 households—pay 50 percent of the income taxes, and half the households pay no income tax at all? If the tax code ensures that those who pay the bulk of the taxes are always a minority of those who vote for the legislature that imposes the taxes, isn’t that taxation without representation? Isn’t it also the tyranny of the majority that the Founders tried to prevent?
12:36 pm edt 

Monday, July 20, 2009

Renewable Energy Around the Web
A weekly update on news articles and blog posts on the renewable energy industry. 
7:35 am edt 

Sunday, July 19, 2009

In Memoriam: Walter Cronkite 7:44 am edt 

Friday, July 17, 2009

Judi Gerhardt's Career Fashion Consignment Opens

I like to brag on my clients, so forgive me.  Judi Gerhardt's Career Fashion Consignment is now open for accepting consignments and received some coverage in the local paper. 

As the article explains, Judi has a great story for her new effort:

"Career Fashion Consignment is not Ms. Gerhardt’s first business endeavor. She founded and operated an equestrian center in New Orleans for 15 years. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed most of the property and the center was dismantled.

But from that devastation, she has risen to the challenge and presses forward with her store opening on the fourth anniversary of the hurricane.

“Katrina took away certain opportunities but offered new ones,” she said."
Judi's store is also an expression of her concern for the environment and sustainable living.

"The store’s target audience includes “new college graduates in their early 20s who are just entering the workforce to people in their late 40s and 50s getting back into the workforce and everybody in between,” she said.

In the spirit of the green movement, her store focuses on what she calls the “re’s”— recycling, reusing and returns.

“Sustainability is the business model of what we do in this new economy and new consumerism,”
she said. "

Judi is planning a grand opening party in late August.


7:29 am edt 

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Exxon to Invest $600 Million in Algal Fuels
Exxon has announced a $600 million investment in algal fuels researcher Synthetic Genomics.
10:16 am edt 

Is Finale the Best Harry Potter Yet?
Early critical reviews of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince are calling it the "best Harry Potter yet". 
6:42 am edt 

Monday, July 13, 2009

John C. Beale Tribute

Killed in action June 4, 2009, the body of Staff Sergeant First Class John C. Beale was returned to Falcon Field in Peachtree City, Georgia, just south of Atlanta, on June 11, 2009. The Henry County Police Department escorted the procession to the funeral home in McDonough, Georgia. A simple notice in local papers indicated the road route to be taken and the approximate time.

This video was filmed during the procession by a State Trooper.

The video has already been widely circulated but because it's so moving and concerns some fellow Georgians, I wanted to share it with you. 

12:23 pm edt 

UK Clean Energy Effort
Expected to cost £100 billion, the effort intends to increase the UK's use of renewable energy to 15% by 2020 while also reducing carbon emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by the year 2050.  (Independent). 

The UK government's effort is also said to include a "social tariff" that will charge lower prices to residential customers with lower incomes and higher prices to higher-income customers.  (Guardian).

Energy and Climate Change Ed Miliband is also expected to announce increased support for feed-in tariffs, in which individuals with energy producing facilities (like residential solar cells) will receive above-market rates from electric utilities for electricity they supply to the grid.  (Reuters).

Several white papers and announcements are expected from the government on Wednesday.
7:23 am edt 

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Vermont Clean Energy Act Attracts Interest
Vermont's recent clean energy law (the Vermont Energy Act of 2009) clears a number of hurdles for the acceleration of renewable energy in that state.

Dozens of entrepreneurs and renewable energy contracts appeared at a meeting of the Vermont Public Service Board this week to express their appreciation and their optimism over the business that it may generate.  
8:40 am edt 

Environmentalists: Waxman Markey Not Good Enough
The NY Times carries a piece today illustrating the frustration felt by envionmentalists over Waxman Markey.  Many blame President Obama, saying he did not do enough to push through the legislation in its original form.

The article notes:

"For some environmental groups and individuals, the bill’s perceived shortcomings — like generous pollution allowances to coal utilities and the usurping of the federal Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory authority over carbon emissions — were more than mere setbacks.

“This bill was worse than what we were expecting, even knowing we wouldn’t get the best bill,” said Nick Berning, a spokesman for the group Friends of the Earth."


8:31 am edt 

Zelaya's Ouster was Legal
Miguel Estrada makes a persuasive case that the remove of Zelaya from the presidency of Honduras was legal. 

Why is the Obama administration so hell-bent on putting him back in power?
8:24 am edt 

Friday, July 10, 2009

Treasury Issues Guidance on Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credits

The Treasury Department yesterday released guidance on applying for the renewable energy investment tax credit available under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. 

The guidance focuses on the $3 billion in Treasury Department grants that are available under Section 1603 of the ARRA for parties who wish to receive cash instead of the investment tax credit under Section 48.

Some of the key points include:

* Application Deadline - For property placed in service in 2009 or 2010, applications must be submitted after the property has been placed in service and before October 1, 2011;

* Eligibility - In general, only private, tax-paying entities are eligible to apply.  Ineligible entities include state and local governments, tax-exempt Section 501(c) entities and pass-through entities any one of the beneficial owners of which is an ineligible entity;

* Placed in service - Applicants will need a completed commissioning report to document their placed in service date, among other requirements; and

* Recapture - If an applicant disposes of the property to a person who is disqualified from receiving the grant, anywhere from 20% to 100% of the Section 1603 payment must be repaid to the Treasury depending upon the date of disposition and other factors.

7:37 am edt 


Presidents Obama and Sarkozy consider weighty matters involving international relations.
7:19 am edt 

Thursday, July 9, 2009

FDIC Guidelines on Failed Bank Acquisition

The FDIC's recent proposed guidlines on the acquisition of failed banks have been roundly criticized by many of the private equity firms who would be the mostly likely candidates to acquire failed banks. 

Bloomberg is now reporting, however, that the FDIC may loosen its proposed restrictions after listening to private equity concerns. 

Among the key areas where private equity is seeking more flexibility:

* Loosening Tier 1 capital requirements, down from the 15% stipulated in the FDIC's initial guidelines;

* Loosening the requirement of cross-guarantees among multiple banks acquired by private investors; and

* Relaxing the requirement that investors be prohibited from selling their stakes in acquired banks within three years of acquisition. 

5:37 am edt 

Eighty Percent by 2050
At the G8 Summit yesterday President Obama joined seven other countries in agreeing to try to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by eighty percent by the year 2050

That public statement is aimed to direct attention to the administration's efforts to push H.R. 2454 through the Senate where it was yesterday being debated before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.  Energy Secretary Steven Chu testified there yesterday, claiming that the Waxman Markey bill, which narrowly passed the House by a vote of 219-212, would reduce emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 and eventually to 80% below current levels by 2050. 

The bill would also require electric utilities to generate 20% of their electricity by renewable methods by the year 2020. 
5:06 am edt 

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Short History of the Collapse
John Makin's piece in the Wall Street Journal does an excellent job summarizing the history of the government incentives that created the housing bubble and the current collapse in housing values and the credit market.  Among other factors, he blames the Clinton's administration's policies that encouraged Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to permit home loans with insufficient equity, thereby drawing individuals into the home buying market who were not prepared to pay their debts.

His conclusion is that, to avoid another bubble and its subsequent collapse, the government should "stop playing favorites" with the market and abandon policies that subsidize investments by a particular group of people.

Unfortunately, the current administration's penchant for regulation makes it more likely that government will once again intervene, whether that intervention is called "stimulus" or something else, in a way that creates an incentive that distorts the market, thereby guaranteeing, in the long run, another bubble and another collapse.
7:03 am edt 

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Washington Post Opposes Maxman Markey

In an editorial this morning the venerable Washington Post came out against the Waxman Markey bill which recently passed in the House and is now circling in the Senate.

Key to the Post's objections is a provision in the bill that would require the President to impose tariffs on goods produced in countries that do not have sufficient CO2 emission requirements.  The editorial concludes:

"Are the tariffs' extra layer of protection worth the risk? It is if you're an American union boss. The rebate-tariff regime looks like yet another Waxman-Markey sop that the bill's backers added to ensure its passage. We hope that the Senate, where the action is now, has the sense to remove the tariff provision, fix its trade compensation scheme and scale back the bill's other excesses. "

While the Post has never been known for its solicitation of the trial bar, consider the litigation potential of the rebate/tariff mechanism currently in the bill.  If an industry found it were competitively threatened by competing goods from a non-emission-controlled jurisdiction, that industry would first seek to obtain rebates from the EPA.  If the industry also were protected by tariffs, it could have a double-dip on the CO2 rebate.  Competitors in other jurisdictions might commence a trade dispute under GATT and both industries might end up spending more time in legal proceedings than in selling their wares. 

8:25 am edt 

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth of July


11:18 am edt 

More on Sarah Palin Resignation

Politic has the best analysis so far, speculating that the move is intended to free her from the political restraints that come from holding an office so that she can maneuver towards the 2012 GOP nomination. 

Palins political enemies in Alaska were beginning to pile on with additional frivolouos ethics inquiries, design to create a paper trail that would be fodder for opponents in a presidential contest.  By stepping down she eliminates their ability to keep up those attacks. 

If Palin is serious you would expect her to begin working the lecture circuit, collecting speaker fees and soliciting contributions from big money donors towards an exploratory committee. 

11:16 am edt 

Friday, July 3, 2009

Sarah Palin to Resign as Governor

The AP is reporting that Sarah Palin will resign as governor of Alaska effective July 26.

Update:  More from Reuters, suggesting that she is resigning to pursue the GOP nomination in 2012.


3:52 pm edt 

Venture Capital Investment in Cleantech up almost 50% in 2Q09
According to a recent report, venture investment in cleantech amounted to $1.2 billion in the second quarter of 2009, up from roughly $800 million in the first quarter.
3:30 pm edt 

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Jonathan B. Wilson is an Atlanta attorney at the law firm of Taylor English Duma LLP.  Jonathan B. Wilson provides legal advice to investors, companies and business executives involving corporate law, securities law, SEC matters, intellectual property, website and Internet legal issues, start-ups, limited liability companies, partnerships, 1934 Act matters, outsourcing, strategic alliance agreements, contracts, and other matters of importance to growing private and publicly-traded companies.