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NASA Admits It Gave Jet Fuel Discounts To Google Execs' Company 126

An anonymous reader writes "In a letter to Senator Grassley of the Senate Judiciary Committee, NASA 'admits the agency was selling jet fuel at below market rates to H2-11, a company owned by the founders of Google.' The agency has since raised its rates to reflect market prices but has informed the Senator that it would be impossible for NASA to recoup the money that tax payers have paid in order to subsidize Google's jet fuel discounts."
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NASA Admits It Gave Jet Fuel Discounts To Google Execs' Company

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  • Re:Why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Friday March 07, 2014 @10:06PM (#46432661)

    Hmm, from TFA, it seems that they're required, when they sell this sort of stuff (surplus to needs fuel, in this case) to sell it at cost.

    Since "cost" is below "retail" (pretty much by definition), and since the government doesn't pay fuel taxes (to itself or any State government), "cost" works out to be quite a bit below "retail".

    So, NASA got rid of some fuel that was excess to their needs, got paid for it at exactly the rate that they paid for it (making it a wash in bookkeeping), and did it entirely in accordance with applicable law.

    In other words, nothing to see here, move along.

  • Re:Not a subsidy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erice ( 13380 ) on Friday March 07, 2014 @10:13PM (#46432701) Homepage

    Right. It looks like NASA was simply selling fuel based on their own cost. They may have long term contracts and/or just not buy fuel all that often so it is possible for that on any given day, their costs are askew with average retail rates. Now I guess they will hire someone to monitor retail fuel prices every day to make sure they don't undercharge startups resident at Moffett Field when they occasionally buy fuel. Maybe this will make a little bit more money for Federal Government. Maybe the extra revenue will be lost in the extra overhead.

  • Re:Not a subsidy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arethan ( 223197 ) on Friday March 07, 2014 @10:19PM (#46432729) Journal

    Sounds like the taxing agencies that got stiffed on the previous sales should contact H2-11 to collect the back taxes owed. Problem solved. No story here. Stop sensationalizing nothingness; it's lame.

  • Not just Google (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Friday March 07, 2014 @10:22PM (#46432741) Homepage

    It reads like it wasn't a subsidy to Google, it's that NASA sold fuel to all it's qualified partners at cost rather than at market rates. So the taxpayers didn't pay anything for a subsidy. NASA recouped what it paid for the fuel, it just didn't make a profit on the transaction. I don't see any compelling reason to require a government agency like NASA to turn a profit on it's deals, as long as it doesn't lose money on them either.

  • priorities (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hilather ( 1079603 ) on Friday March 07, 2014 @10:35PM (#46432787)
    Seriously. Google and other companies in silicon valley skip out on billions worth of taxes by funneling it through Ireland and this is what you want to focus on. Jet fuel?
  • Red Herring (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Above ( 100351 ) on Friday March 07, 2014 @11:14PM (#46432907)

    The issue here is that Google got to keep their jets at AMES at all, not that they got fuel subsidies. NASA sold them fuel the only way NASA knew how, and probably in full compliance with regulations. The issue is not with the fuel sales, but with Google being able to keep their jets their at all.

    Anyone familiar with the area knows that AMES is much more convenient for a private plane of the size the Google Execs own than pretty much any other option. SFO, OAK, and SJC are all busy, and have various red-tape on them. Airports like SQL are too small for the google jets. Normally no non-NASA flights can be at AMES. There are no Apple Jets, no Cisco Jets, no Facebook Jets at this airport. Google attempted to get around this by offering free instrumentation on their jets to NASA.

    This is the first step in calling bullshit. This should have never happened. A few instruments does not make it a NASA project. Google should have never been there in the first place. Someone gave them preferential treatment using the instruments as an excuse.

  • Oh come on! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sgt scrub ( 869860 ) <(saintium) (at) (> on Friday March 07, 2014 @11:33PM (#46432959)

    H2-11 should be prohibited from refueling at NASA Ames. That way they can crash, die, and people can bitch about how NASA refused to help a brother out.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 08, 2014 @01:51AM (#46433313)

    Could you PLEASE learn the difference between "then" and "than"? You sound like such a fucking idiot.

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