The Green Energy Scandal Widens
In the midst of the Presidential campaign, the Green Energy scandal has widened as new House Oversight hearings have begun. Interestingly, the latest hearings are titled, “The Obama Administration’s Green Energy Gamble: What Have All The Taxpayer Subsidies Achieved?”
This says it all. Barack Obama and his allies used billions in taxpayer money to subsidize risky energy companies when, in many cases, the owners and executives did not have the confidence to do.
During a recent session, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) chastised First Solar chairman of the board and former CEO Michael Ahearn regarding his sale of his company stock while angling for subsidies from the Department of Energy.
Rep. Kelly pointed out that he did this while the government was providing his company with what would eventually total nearly $3 billion in taxpayer-funded loans. Mr. Ahern, who came with a list of talking points, got very little opportunity to change the subject and when a Democrat member of the committee asked for the floor, Rep. Kelly curtly refused.
Meanwhile, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wants to hear from two Cabinet officials, Commerce Secretary John Bryson and Energy Secretary Steven Chu, as part of an investigation into the Energy Department’s Green Energy loan program.
This program has been panned by no less than the Washington Post, a liberal supporter of the administration. In an article printed on September 14, 2011, they pointed out that the program has created far fewer jobs than the Obama administration projected. They also criticized the unwieldiness of the program.
The Department of Energy claims that it has saved 33,000 jobs, The department says the biggest of its loan guarantees, for $5.9 billion, protected the jobs at Ford by enabling the automaker to upgrade plants in five states to build more energy-efficient vehicles. This is classic government “counting”.
The committee has a number of emails and letters from the two cabinet secretaries that appear to place them in rather questionable ethical positions. Secretary Bryson, then chairman of BrightSource Energy, lobbied the government for loans.
Specifically, Issa wants to ask both men about their involvement in the BrightSource Energy loan. According to its website, the company designs, develops, and deploys solar thermal technology to produce high-value electricity and steam for power, petroleum, and industrial-process markets worldwide.
In the case of Secretary Chu, his March testimony appears to be in contradiction to subsequent information that the committee has received. Issa said he hopes Chu can “set the record straight.”
The investigation of the Solyndra loan guarantee conducted by House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans has found no evidence of political influence. But the probe has uncovered a number of details that could prove uncomfortable or politically damaging to the White House, including that administration officials questioned the wisdom of issuing the loan guarantee to the now-bankrupt solar panel manufacturer.
Especially troubling will be questions regarding the approval of the restructuring of Solyndra’s debt that allowed two private investors to move ahead of taxpayers for repayment in case of default on the final $75 million in loan guarantees. The Department of Energy at the direction of Secretary Chu waived this contingency.
That meant that the American taxpayers were on the hook for the money. It would seem that Energy Department officials violated established Federal law in doing this.