Well that didn’t take long. Here’s a Republican National Committee ad whipping President Obama on the collapse of Solyndra, the Fremont-based solar tech firm that received $535 million in federal loan guarantees. (Hat tip Chron’s Politics Blog).
Not a surprise, really. When the company went belly up on Wednesday, we noted headlines like these:
- White House-Backed Solar Energy Company Collapses (ABC)
- Solyndra Filing a Disaster for Obama (NBC Bay Area)
The video trail of Obama’s praise for the company, which received a $535 million federal loan guarantee from the Department of Energy in 2009, isn’t hard to find. To wit:
House Republicans were already investigating the loan guarantee program, created as part of the 2009 stimulus bill, considered to be the world’s biggest boondoggle by the GOP; in July, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight and investigations subcommittee issued a subpoena for White House documents related to the Solyndra loan. And on Wednesday, Republicans on the committee issued this press release:
We smelled a rat from the onset. As the highly celebrated first stimulus loan guarantee awarded by the DOE, the $535 million loan for Solyndra was suspect from day one. Our investigation to protect American taxpayers has revealed that in the rush to get stimulus cash out the door, despite repeated claims by the Administration to the contrary, some bets were bad from the beginning. And yet, despite the red flags and vocal concerns this Administration continued to tout Solyndra as a stimulus success story, going so far as to have the President visit the plant last summer.
It is clear that Solyndra was a dubious investment, but DOE doubled down in March of this year and restructured the loan, possibly further increasing taxpayers’ liability. That is a question we want answered. In this time of record debt such disregard for taxpayer dollars cannot be tolerated.
The Government Accountability Office, the investigative and research arm of congress, also expressed concerns over the loan program in a 2010 report. (Read the report (pdf) here.) From the Washington Post today:
Solyndra’s closing has also raised concerns about the status of tens of billions of dollars the Obama administration has invested in other renewable-energy companies.
Frank Rusco, a Government Accountability Office director who helped lead a review of the Solyndra loan and the Energy Department’s loan guarantee program, said the GAO remains “greatly concerned” by its 2010 finding that the agency agreed to back five companies with loans without properly assessing their risk of failure. The companies were not identified in the report, but the GAO has since acknowledged that Solyndra was one of them.
So while the GOP isn’t down with the whole clean tech thing, the energy around slamming the administration’s early focus on green companies is probably going to be highly renewable until at least November, 2012.