Shell oil

That oil refinery that they're trying to bring to the Columbia River shores in Clatskanie, Oregon is already starting to smell funny, and they haven't even broken ground yet. The Weed, in a well-written story, recently revealed that the deal is being financed through a special purpose acquisition company, or a "SPAC," as they're known. The story describes it this way:

Next isn’t holding a traditional initial public offering. Instead, it’s merging with a shell company called Industrial Tech Acquisitions II Inc., a Houston-based company that has no sales, earnings or operations. Such mergers avoid much of the regulatory paperwork involved in a traditional IPO.

Next Renewable CEO Chris Efird has a lot of experience with shell companies. Before founding Next, he specialized in setting up shells and finding businesses to fold into them. Shell companies are perfectly legal, but they’ve been used in pump-and-dump schemes in which promoters buy up shares in a shell, claim it has a new product to drive up the share price, then sell their shares and disappear.

What I know about SPACs, you could fit in a thimble. But to me, they seem a lot like crypto: a new scheme that hardly anybody understands, with no apparent purpose other than to skirt various disclosure laws, and perfect for evil deeds. A SPAC is a crypto-stock, in a sense. As with cryptocurrencies, it seems like SPACs ought to have been outlawed before they got started.

What the "Next" weasels are planning to build up there is bad enough:

Unlike petroleum diesel, so-called renewable diesel is made from organic fats, like soybean oil, used cooking oil, or even the waste from fish processing. Some question how sustainable it is given that it requires the addition of hydrogen, which often comes from fracked natural gas....

Meetings about the plant in Clatskanie have been emotional affairs, with farmers voicing concerns about air pollution, the destruction of farm land, and earthquake hazards for a plant that will store millions of gallons of diesel fuel on silty land that was reclaimed from the Columbia River by century-old levees.

Now throw in some hustling on the money side, and you start to wonder who's doing what to whom up there.

Tech Acquisitions II, the company merging with Next, was set up by Texas Ventures, a private equity and venture capital firm, also based in Houston. It’s led by Scott Crist, who also heads a company called Osperity, which Crist, in his bio, calls “the leader in AI-driven computer vision for the industrial sector.”

In a filing with the SEC, Tech Acquisitions II said it would focus its search on companies in “technology-focused areas including software, mobile and IoT applications, digital and energy transformation, cloud and cyber communications as well as high bandwidth services, including LTE, remote sensing and 5G communications.”

I guess the stinky, toxic grease pit they're planning to inflict on the farmers in the vicinity somehow counts as "energy transformation." But take it from a guy who grew up at Exit 15E on the New Jersey Turnpike: Portlanders are going to wish that these birds from Ted Cruz Land had done it somewhere far, far away.

Oh well, it's thoroughly greenwashed, and around here, that counts for quite a bit. You'd be amazed at what happens in the name of "green" in greater Portlandia. 


  1. I guess it’s no surprise that Betsy Johnson was all for it:

  2. The way things work in that next of the woods, I wouldn't be surprised if she had a piece of it somehow.

  3. Well considering that Oregon is phasing out petroleum diesel, it is going to have to get it’s “organic” diesel from somewhere.

    It would be peak Oregon for them to welcome bio-diesel, but then run this company out before it can even start. The financials sound fishy (pun intended), but probably not much different than half of any current startups out there.

  4. it stinks to high heaven ... even we Oregon rubes aren't buying this "clean diesel" schtick anymore

  5. It’s not fair to assume that just because it’s a SPAC there’s something wrong with it.
    The traditional IPO route is a huge racket for Wall St investment bankers who charge a ton of fees for listing a company. Stocks post IPO also pump and dump due to the Jim Cramers of the world. You can’t get rid of speculators in a market.

    1. We did well for 90 years without SPACs. They're just gimmicks to avoid regulation and disclosure. They should be outlawed.


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