Today, House Republicans crowed over the bankruptcy of Solyndra, a company with an innovative thin-film solar technology granted a $535 million loan guarantee under the 2005 Energy Policy Act. Massive investments by the Chinese government drove down the price of polysilicon and pushed Solyndra into bankruptcy at the beginning of this month, despite annual revenues of over $100 million a year. The company is now under investigation by the FBI, likely because of assurances made to Congress by its top officials that Solyndra was in good financial health.
At a hearing today, Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee questioned administration officials about the loan guarantee, and pontificated in general that government investment in clean technology was a bad idea. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Koch Industries’ man in Congress, also asked questions at the hearing even though he is not a member of the subcommittee. These Republicans, unsurprisingly, are heavily funded by the fossil fuel and nuclear industries:
|$11 MILLION FOSSIL FUEL TEAM QUESTIONS SOLAR|
|Rep. Cliff Stearns (FL)||$405,993|
|Rep. Steve Scalise (LA)||$339,935|
|Rep. Tim Murphy (PA)||$933,141|
|Rep. Fred Upton (MI)||$1,290,928|
|Rep. Joe Barton (TX)||$3,571,595|
|Rep. Lee Terry (NE)||$563,401|
|Rep. John Sullivan (OK)||$1,060,278|
|Rep. Michael Burgess (TX)||$430,568|
|Rep. Marsha Blackburn (TN)||$302,248|
|Rep. Sue Myrick (NC)||$449,085|
|Rep. Brian Bilbray (CA)||$528,864|
|Rep. Phil Gingrey (GA)||$194,250|
|Rep. Cory Gardner (CO)||$386,324|
|Rep. Morgan Griffith (VA)||$193,480|
|Rep. Mike Pompeo (KS)||$534,006|
|Center for Responsive Politics. Career contributions from the energy and natural resources sector.|
“The solar industry is truly dependent on subsidies,” subcommittee chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) said at the conclusion of the hearing. Stearns did not express similar outrage about the hundreds of billions of dollars that have gone into subsidizing the oil, gas, coal and nuclear industries. None of the Republican members of the panel worried about the $11 million in subsidies they have received from the fossil fuel and nuclear industries in campaign contributions.
“We know we’ll never have a hearing on the oil industry or the nuclear industry in this committee,” Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) noted at the hearing, questioning $41 billion in taxpayer subsidies for the oil industry and a massive nuclear loan guarantee given to Southern Company.