But after 187,000 documents, 10 hearings, and multiple independent media investigations concluding there was no evidence of political “pressure” to approve the loan guarantee, Republicans show no signs of ending the political games around Solyndra. In response to the RNC, Climate Progress created its own infographic that puts the politics-infused investigation into perspective:
Stories tagged with “Solyndra”
It’s the One-Year Anniversary of House Solyndra Investigation, But the Traditional Gift of Paper Seems Superfluous
After 185,000 pages of documents, ten hearings, and two subpoenas, we still haven’t found any evidence improper behavior
by Richard W. Caperton
Today, the fruitless investigation into the Solyndra loan guarantee turns one year old. Sadly, fruit is the traditional gift on the fourth anniversary. So what do you give on a first-anniversary to someone who already demanded all the paper they could ever need for the rest of their lives?
On February 17, 2011, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns sent a letter to Secretary of Energy Steven Chu requesting all DOE communication about the decision to issue a loan guarantee to Solyndra. Thus began the most over-hyped, over-covered, and over-examined stories in recent memory — including Tim Tebow.
Since Upton and Stearns sent their letter, the House has received 185,000 pages of documents, held ten hearings, heard from 26 witnesses, and issued two subpoenas. Despite this, they have yet to find any evidence of improper behavior.
The key figure in the House investigation has been Stearns. Not since Ponce de Leon went searching for the Fountain of Youth has a Floridian led a less successful hunt for an illusive prize. To be fair to de Leon, at least he knew what he was looking for and had he found it, his youth would have been restored. Stearns didn’t even know what a loan guarantee was as recently as October, and this investigation is definitely getting old.
It’s not as if the House Republicans are the only people pursuing this story. The mainstream press has devoted countless column inches and hours of coverage to the Solyndra non-story, while virtually ignoring real scandals that are a full order of magnitude bigger in dollar terms.
While House Republicans have wasted day after day in hearings, independent analyses continue to find that the DOE loan guarantee program is actually exceeding expectations. Most recently, Herb Allison — John McCain’s former national finance chair — led a team of accountants and auditors who found that the Program will cost a full $2 billion less than DOE initially expected. This follows analyses by Bloomberg Government, who found “The focus on Solyndra is not proportional to its impact,” and the Congressional Research Service, who found that the great majority of guarantees were extremely low risk.
Instead of wasting more staff time and taxpayer dollars on a fishing expedition for political scandal, it’s time for the House to do things that can actually move clean energy forward and put Americans back to work, like extending the Production Tax Credit, passing a clean energy standard, and creating a Clean Energy Deployment Administration. That would be a gift all Americans would welcome.
Richard W. Caperton is director of clean energy finance at the Center for American Progress.
Solyndra-Obsessed Upton Once Pushed For A Loan To Now-Bankrupt Solar Company | House Energy and Commerce Chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) is leading the year-long Republican witch-hunt-to-nowhere on clean energy loans, but he once pressed Energy Secretary Steven Chu for multiple loan guarantees, including for a solar company in Michigan that filed for bankruptcy Tuesday. In 2009, Upton and Michigan lawmakers vouched for United Solar Ovonic, writing, “We believe these applications are worthy of serious consideration by the Energy Department.” Despite his hypocrisy, Upton plans to continue probing Solyndra, extending a battle that has not turned up any wrongdoing. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), another lawmaker who continues to attack Obama for a “reckless disregard for the laws,” easily forgets he too asked for a loan, on behalf of the electric car company Aptera Motors.
In an independent review, John McCain’s former National Finance Chairman finds the loan guarantee program was cost-effective for taxpayers
Take a deep breath, because what I’m about to tell you may be shocking: loan guarantees for energy have been successful, cost-effective investments.
That’s the message from Herb Allison, former national finance chairman for John McCain, who led a team of accountants and auditors in conducting an independent analysis of the Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program. Allison and his team found that, despite the hysteria around Solyndra, this program will cost $2 billion less than initially expected.
Today, the White House released Allison’s review. It includes an analysis of every loan guarantee issued from DOE, as well as recommendations for managing this portfolio of guarantees going forward. This independent review was requested by the White House in late 2011, to make sure that the DOE loan guarantee portfolio was cost-effective for taxpayers.
The Allison review confirms what we already know, thanks to the Congressional Research Service and Bloomberg Government. Instead of looking at individual investments, CRS examined the entire DOE portfolio, and concluded that the overwhelming majority of the portfolio was in electrical generation projects, which DOE structured to have very low risk. Bloomberg Government took that a step forward, and concluded that the media’s incessant focus on Solyndra was “not proportional to its impact.”
There are multiple reasons why the risks to taxpayers from this program are so low. First, most of the guarantees went to support projects that have very secure contracts to sell their power to investment-grade rated utilities. Allison and his team of independent auditors endorsed the methodology that DOE initially used to evaluate these types of projects, writing, “The Independent Consultant used the same Nine Criteria as did DOE because, in the opinion of the Independent Consultant, they comprise the salient factors for evaluating the credits and are substantially similar to the criteria that would be employed by private sector credit analysts for these types of loans.”
Perhaps a bit flustered from losing three primary races a day earlier to fellow GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney got his energy talking points confused at a campaign rally in Atlanta, Georgia on Wednesday.
Speaking about his plan to encourage domestic energy production, Romney got the solar company Solyndra and the Keystone tar sands pipeline mixed up:
“My course for America is to become energy secure and to open up that Solyndra – that, that pipeline, excuse me, the Keystone pipeline,” Romney told about 400 supporters at a stone importing company in northern Atlanta. “Not Solyndra. … The Keystone pipeline to get energy here in this country.”
The small stumble could have been a good opportunity for Romney to throw some support behind solar as an important domestic energy source. After all, the industry was the “fastest growing in America” for two years in a row, supports more than 100,000 direct and indirect jobs in all 50 states, and accounted for a $1.9 billion trade surplus in 2010.
Instead, Romney quickly fell back to his talking points and called federal loan guarantees an example of “crony capitalism.”
The Solyndra slip up is not the first for a Republican presidential candidate. Last December, Texas Governor and former candidate Rick Perry thought Solyndra (which he called “Solynda”) was a country that America gave money to.
In recent days, CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has come under criticism for an award she is due to accept later this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference, and yesterday, Media Matters for America called on the network “to reconsider [its] decision to legitimize a discredited, fringe organization by accepting AIM award at CPAC.” Everyone likes being recognized for their work. But Attkisson’s prize is a useful illustration of those cases when an award can bring an organization the wrong kind of recognition.
First, there’s the group conferring the prize. “Accuracy in Media” (AIM) peddles conspiracy theories ranging from assertions that President Obama is a socialist and a non-citizen to suggestions that mainstream media outlets encourage Occupy Wall Street protests to turn violent to boost ratings. The group has regularly criticized CBS and its affiliated networks for sins ranging from airing an episode of the legal drama The Good Wife that cast the Tea Party in a negative light to “tricking” Republican presidential candidates for agreeing with Obama administration policies in a primary debate. It’s not clear why CBS News wants Accuracy in Media’s approval or thinks it’s an organization that’s qualified to judge the network’s journalism.
Then, there’s the prize itself. As my colleague Brad Johnson noted, Attkisson is being honored for her work on a report that purported to reveal that the Obama administration had funded 11 other failed green energy projects like Solyndra, but the numbers that underly that report don’t support Attkisson’s claims. Rather than proving that the administration dumped money into failing projects, Attkisson is counting organizations that never got federal money at all or who haven’t gone bankrupt. That’s not the kind of work that most news organizations would be excited to get the in spotlight: it’s more invigorating to truly land the evidence that nails the case you’re trying to make than to repackage weak numbers under a flashy headline.
None of this is to say that big news outlets should never accept awards from small organizations, or from interest groups who are excited to see their issues be recognized. But CBS News should reconsider Accuracy in Media’s award because it’s not particularly clear that AIM and CBS News have the same standards for what constitutes strong reporting. If AIM is honoring CBS News for reporting that is politically biased or unlikely to stand up under serious scrutiny, CBS News shouldn’t risk validating standards that it wouldn’t use on a day-to-day basis in evaluating its own work.
Birther Organization To Award CBS Reporter Sharyl Attkisson For Attacks On Clean Energy | CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson is set to receive a journalism award at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference from Accuracy in Media, a right-wing group which promotes conspiracy theories about Barack Obama’s citizenship. In announcing its award recipients, AIM specifically lauded Attkisson for her green energy report purporting to reveal 11 “New Solyndras.” But Attkisson was counting companies that didn’t even receive federal funds, companies that haven’t actually gone bankrupt, and companies that have sold the government-backed projects to other firms.
As President Obama said in his State of the Union address, his administration is committed to the promise of American clean energy, even though some companies may fail to others in the marketplace. 180,000 pages of documents from a Congressional investigation confirmed that the Department of Energy’s investment in the advanced technology of Solyndra was based on the merits.
The group, created by Karl Rove and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, launched their 35-second TV spot dishonestly painting “the Solyndra loan guarantee as a corrupt deal aimed at benefiting the president’s campaign donors,” the Hill reports:
“He gave his political backers billions – a big government fiasco- infused with politics at every level,” says a female narrator over the obligatory “SE7EN”-style, cut-and-paste imagery typical of super-PAC attack ads. “Laid off worker: forgotten. Typical Washington. Tell President Obama we need jobs not more inside deals.”
This is the second Crossroads GPS attack ad that uses Solyndra as a scapegoat for the clean economy.
Fossil-fueled conservatives are dead set on turning their imagined Solyndra scandal into a coordinated attack on the clean energy industry. The Crossroads GPS campaign is only the latest in a string of attack ads meant to play up the Solyndra bankruptcy as a potential liability for Obama in the coming election year. To date, Americans for Prosperity, the front group for the petrochemical billionaire Koch brothers, has spent over $8 million in battleground states — Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin — on two intentionally misleading ads taking aim at President Obama over Solyndra.
Obama Responds To Solyndra Attacks: ‘I Will Not Walk Away From The Promise Of Clean Energy’ | “Some technologies don’t pan out; some companies fail,” President Obama said in his State of the Union Address, responding to the Koch-fueled criticism of his administration’s investments in dozens of clean-energy companies that have created 60,000 jobs. “But I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy. I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here. We have subsidized oil companies for a century. That’s long enough. It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that’s rarely been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that’s never been more promising. Pass clean energy tax credits and create these jobs.”
What’s the only thing worse than turning a Congressional investigation into a months-long political circus? The leaders of that investigation not having a firm grasp of the policies they’re supposed to be examining.
California Republican Darrell Issa chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, one of the top bodies responsible for looking into the loan guarantee to the now-bankrupt solar manufacturer Solyndra. So you’d think that Mr. Issa would, after almost four months of investigation, be able to distinguish the extraordinary differences between a tax credit and a loan guarantee.
You would, sadly, be wrong.
In a shockingly ignorant commentary on the President’s State of the Union address last night, Issa blamed tax credits — the foundation of energy policy in this country — on the Solyndra bankruptcy, calling them a “scandal.” He was responding to this tweet, which was a response to the President’s call for Congress to extend vital tax credits for wind and other clean energies:
In a YouTube video message, Issa explained:
“We know that not only doesn’t it work out, but there are loads of additional scandals coming out and certainly the Administration is trying to double down on his ability to play political favoritism in the name of clean energy.”
Never mind that Issa has been a strong supporter of loan guarantees for nuclear energy and has requested multiple grants for clean energy companies in his district. Issa has also been a vociferous supporter of permanent tax credits for the oil and gas industry, which he calls absolutely necessary for job creation.
Yet, somehow, Issa and his colleagues in Congress have been completely silent on extending expiring short-term tax credits for the wind industry — a lapse that may cost the American wind industry 37,000 jobs next year. And when asked for his characterization of tax credits for clean energy, Issa gets them confused with loan guarantees and calls them a “scandal.”
For the record, here is the gaping difference between the two: