Thursday, September 15, 2011

Congressional Oversight Investigations Begin on Solyndra Failure

Some $36 billion doled out of taxpayer money. A paltry 3500 jobs have resulted in green energy jobs. The Obama administration's shiny example of the future of green energy jobs? Solyndra.

Now that Solyndra has filed for bankruptcy and the House committees involved are holding hearings, what's the White House plan to cover for their epic failure here? Why, blame the Bush administration, of course.

It is true that the green energy initiative began during the Bush years. So, the cover-uppers are trying mightily to pin the blame on Bush.

In prepared testimony released ahead of the hearing before the House Energy and Commerce committee, the director of the Department of Energy's loans office, Jonathan Silver, emphasizes that the program that eventually granted a $535 million loan guarantee to the troubled firm was created during the Bush administration.

The problem with this defense is that now there is a trail of emails that clearly show that the Bush administration raised many red flags about the potential for success from Solyndra and slowed the process. It is clearly the Obama administration that took over upon taking office in 2009 and making it all about political photo ops.

Rep Cliff Stearns isn't having it.

But Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., chairman of the oversight subcommittee that is conducting the Solyndra investigation, said that there's a problem with that version of events. "In reality, on January 9, 2009 -- at the end of the Bush administration -- the DOE Credit Committee voted against offering a conditional commitment to Solyndra, saying that the deal was premature and questioning its underlying financial support," Stearns said in his opening statement. "Only after Obama took control, and the stimulus passed, was the Solyndra deal pushed through."

The emails point to the micro-managing from the White House in its desire to use Solyndra as political fodder in the push to funnel big bucks into green energy projects.

The company's solar panel factory was heralded as a centerpiece of the president's green energy plan -- billed as a way to jump start a promising new industry. And internal emails uncovered by investigators for the House Energy and Commerce Committee that were shared exclusively with ABC News show the Obama administration was keenly monitoring the progress of the loan, even as analysts were voicing serious concerns about the risk involved.

Some of the 1100 employees who lost their jobs will no doubt have stories to tell the media now. One called into a radio talk show and voiced this opinion:

While we were out there, while we were building it – cause it is a half a billion dollar plant – everyone already knew that China had developed a more inexpensive way to manufacture these solar panels. Everyone knew that the plant wouldn’t work. But they still did it. They still built it.

That was spoken by a woman who described herself as low on the totem pole of the company, yet she knew what was going on.

The Treasury Department is opening an investigation into Solyndra, too. The loan was arranged for by the Energy Department but the Federal Financing Bank made the loan. That loan falls under the Treasury Department as the Federal Financing Bank is a government lending institution.

Chairman Upton(R-MI) expects to have testimony from Solyndra in hearings next week. On CNN's John King USA program, Upton responded to revelations that former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanel wanted to help speed up the OMB side of the process so that Vice President Biden could get press for the initiative on behalf of the administration.

Well, we've got now - you know, we tried to get the documentation early on. We scheduled hearings and the administration literally didn't show up. They promised us that they were going to provide documents. They never came.

Finally, we resorted to the last resort and that was a subpoena, and in mid-July we served a subpoena on the administration. It still took more than a month to get a lot of the stuff that was there. And as we're examining now a lot of the stuff that we finally got, we're now finding these e-mails that nobody knew about before.

So, we're going to see exactly where this takes us, how did this thing get approved, and how - who made the decision to restructure the loan so that, in fact, at the end of the day because they did go belly up, in direct contradiction to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, did someone make the decision to put the taxpayer last instead of first when they filed Chapter 11.

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