Clean Energy Cons: Dozens of Republicans Asked for Clean Energy Grants and Subsidized Loans Before Attacking Them

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"Clean Energy Cons: Dozens of Republicans Asked for Clean Energy Grants and Subsidized Loans Before Attacking Them"

by Lee Fang, in a Think Progress special report

Republicans have seized on the Solyndra controversy to go on a witch-hunt against all clean energy programs authorized by the Department of Energy. Instead of narrowly scrutinizing the loan that subsidized Solyndra, a company that utilized a Republican-created program and had initially gained approval from the Bush administration, Republicans are on a war path to defund all clean energy programs — despite the fact that these Republicans previously were proponents of the program when it helped clean energy companies in their districts. As Climate Progress’ Stephen Lacey has reported, Republicans are now expanding their inquisition to include killing a program that employs veterans to install solar panels.

As Lacey and others have reported extensively, Republicans have exploited Department of Energy clean energy programs for years without complaint. Some senators and representatives who voted to slash funds for ATVM (Alternative Technology Vehicle Manufacturing) loans previously urged the Department of Energy to speed up its approval process. Above, ThinkProgress compiled pictures of Republican lawmakers taking credit for DOE clean energy and green jobs grants:

– Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) congratulating Aqua Pennsylvania Inc. on winning a Department of Energy grant for a 1.1-megawatt solar farm.

– Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) attending the groundbreaking for Sustainable Energy Options for Rural Nebraska, a project funded in part by the Department of Energy.

– Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) speaking at the opening ceremony for the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, a clean energy research laboratory funded by the Department of Energy.

ThinkProgress has also compiled a report showing 62 Republicans filing letters requesting money from the Department of Energy for a range of clean energy programs, from the loan subsidy program tapped by Solyndra to other related programs disbursed by the agency. Many of the following lawmakers have since either taken transparently political votes to cut clean energy programs or have denounced all clean energy grants as fraudulent:

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) sent a letter to the Energy Secretary Steven Chu requesting a Renewable Energy Loan Guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy for the company Coskata Inc. to establish a cellulosic ethanol plant in Alabama. Sessions wrote that the plant would “assist our nation in advancing our energy security and reducing greenhouse gases” and that renewable energy would “reduce environmental pollutants that threaten our natural resources.” The facility, Sessions said, would provide “as many as 750 jobs through the region of its proposed rural site.” The letter was sent Feb. 5, 2009.

View a copy of Sessions’ letter asking for a taxpayer subsidized clean energy loan here. The company was later awarded with a $250 million loan guarantee from a clean energy program offered by the Department of Agriculture. The press release from Coskata Inc. thanks Sen. Sessions for his support.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) sent multiple letters to the Department of Energy to express support for clean energy grants to start-up energy businesses. Issa asked Secretary Steven Chu to consider expediting an application from Aptera Motors, an electric car company funded by an investor who had given multiple times to Issa’s campaign. Issa said the company would use the grant to create jobs and “aid U.S long-term energy goals by shifting away from fossil fuels and using viable renewable energy sources like plug-in electric energy.”

View a copy of Issa’s letter asking for Department of Energy clean energy money here.

Issa has called all clean energy programs schemes to pick “winners and losers” and an “easy way to end up with corruption in government.”

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), when he served in the House of Representatives, sent a letter to Secretary Steven Chu expressing support for a clean energy grant application made by Exide Technologies, an advanced battery manufacturer. Moran noted that the grant will support 320 manufacturing jobs, more than 1,000 indirect jobs, and will “improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.” The letter was sent on July 24, 2009.

View a copy of Moran’s clean energy grant request letter here.

Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) joined Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) on a letter to Secretary Steven Chu requesting an expedited clean energy loan guarantee for Diamond Green Fuels to build a plant to convert animal fats and cooking oils into renewable diesel.

View a copy of Cornyn and Hutchison’s letter here.

Vitter has called for an investigation of clean energy programs, calling them examples of “crony capitalism.”

Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) sent a letter to Secretary Steven Chu requesting $70 million in funding for the Oxy-Fuel System Turbine Development, a clean energy technology program. Lungren noted the program would employ 100 people over a three year period and could partner with companies like Clean Energy Systems Inc. and Siemens Power Generation. The letter, co-signed by Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) and sent on March 10, 2009, argued that Oxy-fuel turbine technology “holds much promise as a zero emission fossil fueled power.”

View a copy of Lungren’s letter asking for a taxpayer-subsidized clean energy loan here.

Lungren joined his colleagues in a protest vote against Department of Energy clean energy grant programs.

Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA) sent multiple letters to Secretary Steven Chu in support of clean energy grant applications for businesses in Pennslyvania. The letters, sent in 2009 and 2010, express support for EPS Corporation, Keystone BioFuels Inc, and Graham Eningeering Corporation, among others.

View a copy of Platts’ letters to the Department of Energy here.

Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) sent a letter to Secretary Steven Chu “strongly” recommending a Department of Energy clean energy grant for Stellarwind Bio Energy LLC. The letter, sent on July 24, 2009, says that the company deserves the taxpayer-funded grant because Stellarwind’s proposed algae fuel scheme “directly addresses all of the significant challenges faced by the U.S., namely domestic energy security, greenhouse gas emissions, scientific leadership in a variety of industries, and broad-based green job creation.”

View a copy of Pence’s green jobs-related grant request here.

Pence joined his colleagues in a protest vote against Department of Energy clean energy grant programs.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) sent a letter to the Department of Energy expressing support for Fish Energy LLC’s application for wind energy funding. Upton hailed the company’s proposals for wind turbine development and said it will be a leader in “newly-created green job opportunities.” The letter was sent Aug. 8, 2009.

View a copy of Upton’s clean energy request here.

Upton joined his colleagues in a protest vote against Department of Energy clean energy grant programs.

Members of Congress from Southern California, including, Reps. Mary Bono Mack (R), Ken Calvert (R), Duncan Hunter (R), David Dreier (R), Brian Bilbray (R), Jerry Lewis (R) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) wrote to Secretary Steven Chu to express “strong support” for the Consortium of Algal Biofuels Commercialization’s proposal to build an energy research center in San Diego. The lawmakers claimed that such research can help create “new sources of meaningful green collar jobs.”

View a copy of the letter here.

Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) wrote a letter to Secretary Steven Chu requesting clean energy funding for the Flathead Electric Cooperative’s effort to develop geothermal power generation. Rehberg’s letter, dated July 14, 2009, claims that Flathead Electric project will help “increase Montana’s energy efficiency by providing alternative sources.”

View a copy of Rehberg’s request for clean energy development money here.

Rehberg joined his colleagues in a protest vote against Department of Energy clean energy grant programs.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) sent a letter to Secretary Steven Chu expressing support for an application by District Energy Corporation for a renewable energy grant. The Corporation’s new geothermal facility, Fortenberry said, provides a renewable energy source and emergency backup power in the Lincoln City area.

View a copy of Fortenberry’s grant request letter to the Department of Energy here.

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) sent a letter to Secretary Steven Chu requesting “expedited consideration” of a fuel efficiency loan grant for V-Vehicle Company to build a plant in his state. The entire Louisiana congressional delegation cosigned the June 2, 2010 letter, including clean energy critics Reps. Bill Cassidy (R), John Fleming (R), Steve Scalise (R), and Rodney Alexander (R). Vitter also sent letters recommending clean energy loan guarantees for Red River Environmental Products and Next Autoworks Company.

View a copy of Vitter’s clean energy loan requests here.

Fleming, Cassidy, Scalise, and Alexander voted “aye” in a protest vote against Department of Energy clean energy grant programs.

Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) sent a letter to the Department of Energy expressing support for a solar energy grant for Northwestern Michigan College. The grant provides funds to train people to install solar energy projects. Camp hoped that the Department of Energy will “consider expeditious processing” of the application “given the state of Michigan’s economy.”

View a copy of Camp’s letter requesting solar energy money here.

Camp joined his colleagues in a protest vote against Department of Energy clean energy grant programs.

In a letter sent earlier this summer to the Department of Energy, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) recommended a grant request from Texas A&M Kingsville to establish an Industrial Assessment Center. The grant program Farenthold sought is offered by the office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

View a copy of the letter to the Department of Energy here.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wrote two letters to Secretary Steven Chu asking for clean energy loans for a plant that would build electric cars. The letter, sent in June of 2009, claimed that the company could create 4,000 jobs.

– The Associated Press and Climate Progress have reported on the letters here.

Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) wrote a letter to Secretary Steven Chu to express his support for a clean technology program called the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology. Johanns hailed the program as an opportunity to develop “new jobs in the green energy industry.”

View a copy of Johanns’ letter asking for a Department of Energy grant here.

California lawmakers, including Reps. Gary Miller (R), Dana Rohrabacher (R), and Buck McKeon (R), signed a letter to Secretary Steven Chu in support of battery-maker Quallion LLC’s bid for a clean energy grant. “The State of California has traditionally assumed a leading role in fighting global warming and working to eliminate our dependence on foreign sources of oil,” the letter noted. Quallion LLC’s manufacturing plants could produce reduce pollution and create jobs, the lawmakers claimed.

View a copy of the letter here.

Reps. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) and Jack Kingston (R-GA) wrote a letter to Secretary Steven Chu preference for taxpayer grants to Bell BioEnergy, a company that produces renewable fuels using non-food biomass. The letter hailed the company for creating “new, green jobs” that will “help transition our economy toward clean, renewable energy.” The letter was cosigned by other Georgia lawmakers. The letter was sent on March 25, 2009.

View a copy of Westmoreland and Kingston’s letter requesting clean energy grants here.

Kingston joined his colleagues in a protest vote against Department of Energy clean energy grant programs.

Westmoreland posted a column on his website claiming that Department of Energy clean energy grant programs prove “Obama’s energy jobs agenda is just not working!”

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), along with Reps. Sue Myrick (R-NC) and Patrick McHenry (R-NC) sent a letter to Secretary Steven Chu “on behalf of Duke Energy Carolinas LLC’s funding application” for a SmartGrid offered by the agency’s clean energy program. The lawmakers wrote that the grant would promote “innovation and development of new energy technologies.”

View a copy of the letter to the Department of Energy here.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has sent multiple letters to Secretary Steven Chu requesting clean energy grants. One letter, dated April 7, 2009, recommends a grant application from Iowa Agricultural BioFibers. Another Grassley letter to the Department of Energy, this one on August 6, 2009, recommends a $45 million clean energy grant request by the University of Iowa for a wind turbine research program.

View a copy of Grassley’s letters in support for clean energy grant programs here and here.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) sent a letter to Secretary Steven Chu in support of a clean energy grant application made by the Shaw Industries Group. Chambliss said the grant would create jobs and reduce the use of fossil fuels.

View a copy of Chambliss’ renewable energy grant request here.

Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) sent a letter to Secretary Steven Chu recommending a clean energy grant for BioEnergy Power LLC and Stellarwind Bio Energy LLC. The letter, sent on June 30, 2009, recommends that the Department of Energy provide the companies with money for a “renewable energy processing plant that uses CO2 emissions and waste heat from electricity to produce biocrude and various forms of algae.” Lugar said the project would establish up to 100 full-time jobs.

View a copy of Lugar’s letter requesting clean energy money here.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) sent a letter to Secretary Steven Chu recommending a request by Tri-Valley Corporation for clean energy grant money from President Obama’s stimulus. The letter, sent March 11, 2009, asks that the Department of Energy directly respond to Tri-Valley’s request for taxpayer money from the Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Research Development, Demonstration and Deployment Program.

View a copy of McCarthy’s letter recommending an application for a clean energy loan here.

McCarthy joined his colleagues in a protest vote against Department of Energy clean energy grant programs.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) sent a letter to Secretary Steven Chu to express support for a company called Global Energy to obtain Department of Energy grants to “construct an ultra-clean energy generation project.”

View a copy of Jordan’s letter, and the Department of Energy’s response here.

Jordan promoted an op-ed on his website that claimed clean energy grants “violate the fundamental laws of economics” by “picking winners and losers.”

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) sent a letter to the Department of Energy expressing support for Clemson University’s request for Department of Energy green energy funding for a wind turbine testing facility. Wilson said the grant could help South Carolina’s offshore wind development and could help the state become an “industrial hub from this growing industry.”

View a copy of Wilson’s request for a clean energy grant here.

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) sent a letter to Secretary Steven Chu expressing support for International Biofuels’ application for a clean energy loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.

View a copy of the Department of Energy’s response to Forbes’ letter here.

Forbes joined his colleagues in a protest vote against Department of Energy clean energy grant programs, including a cut against the same program he requested money from.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) wrote to the Department of Energy to tell the agency that a geothermal technology program in his district is the “perfect fit” to secure a clean energy grant. Smith praised the application, claiming that the project would provide opportunities for “green collar job training and other market-based social enterprises.”

View a copy of Smith’s letter to the Department of Energy here.

Smith joined his colleagues in a protest vote against Department of Energy clean energy grant programs.

Reps. Todd Young (R), Larry Bucshon (R), Marlin Stutzman (R), Todd Rokita (R) and Dan Burton (R) signed a letter along with other Indiana lawmakers to Secretary Steven Chu requesting expedited action on a clean energy loan to Carbon Motors Corporation. The grant, the lawmakers claimed, would bring 1,500 jobs to Indiana while achieving “a positive impact on the environment.”

View a copy of the Indiana letter supporting Carbon Motor’s Department of Energy grant request here.

All five lawmakers voted ‘aye’ in a protest vote against Department of Energy clean energy grant programs.

Reps. Mike Simpson (R-ID), Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), and Greg Walden (R-OR) sent a letter to Secretary Steven Chu to consider clean energy funding geothermal projects at Intermountain West Geothermal Consortium. The letter, signed by other lawmakers as well, claimed that such geothermal clean energy grants can “bring more renewable energy online” and “stimulate industry.”

View a copy of the letter to the Department of Energy here.

Only a few months ago, the Idaho delegation — Rep. Mike Simpson (R), Rep. Raul Labrador (R), Sen. Mike Crapo (R), and Sen. Jim Risch (R) — sent a letter to the executive director of the Department of Energy loan program. The lawmakers asked that the agency give special attention to U.S. Geothermal’s San Emidio project’s application for a taxpayer-funded clean energy loan.

View a copy of the letter to the Department of Energy here.

Reps. Bill Posey (R-FL), Jim Mica (R-FL), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Mario Diaz Balart (R), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Cliff Stearns (R-FL), sent a letter to Secretary Steven Chu to support Florida Power & Light’s bid for a $200 million in funding for a Smart Grid grant. Several of the lawmakers on the FFPL letter also wrote letters requesting other clean energy grants as well.

View a copy of the Florida delegation letters to the Department of Energy here.

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) sent a letter to Secretary Steven Chu expressing his “full support” for an application from the Casey County School System to install a “new geothermal heat pump” system. The program, Whitfield said, would “reduce energy usage, provide energy savings to the districts, improve learning environments and reduce the carbon footprint of the schools.” The letter was sent on Aug. 24, 2009.

View a copy of Whitfield’s clean energy grant request here.

Whitfield joined his colleagues in a protest vote against Department of Energy clean energy grant programs.

Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) sent a letter to the Department of Energy expressing support for solar energy grant to Sunlast Solar, a company based in his district. Rooney’s letter, sent on July 24, 2009, requested the solar training grant so the “Southeast region continues to embrace and adapt to solar energy in the most efficient and effective manner possible.”

View a copy of Rooney’s letter requesting a solar energy grant here.

Rooney joined his colleagues in a protest vote against Department of Energy clean energy grant programs.

Former Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL), who left Congress in 2010 to run for Florida Agriculture Commissioner, sent a letter to Secretary Steven Chu asking for a clean energy research grant from the Department of Energy’s Renewable Energy development program. Putnam said the grant, which he hoped would be awarded to BioEnergy International LLC and a consortium including the University of Florida, would “create US jobs, energy independence, and positive benefits toward the environment.” The letter was sent on Aug. 31, 2009.

View a copy of Putnam’s clean energy research letterhere.

Lee Fang is an investigative researcher/blogger at Think Progress.

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One Response to Clean Energy Cons: Dozens of Republicans Asked for Clean Energy Grants and Subsidized Loans Before Attacking Them

  1. Mark Shapiro says:

    This catalogue of Republican hypocrisy is too long to read through!

    It should be read every time Solyndra is mentioned in Congress and in the press.