How far is the Obama administration willing to go to foist ‘green’ jobs onto a pedestal? Why are politics coming before the stewardship of taxpayer dollars? Why was this administration so dedicated to propping up the solar power company Solyndra? What did Secretary Chu do to address repeated concerns over Solyndra’s financial health? Was this whole affair ever meant to be a good deal for anyone other than its hedge fund investors?
Although several Democrats resisted Solyndra’s failure as anything resembling a ‘scandal,’ these were some of the questions asked by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Florida), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, in his opening statement during the House Energy and Commerce hearing on “The Solyndra Failure: Views from DOE Secretary Chu” Thursday morning.
Predictably, Secretary Chu’s prepared line of defense argued that, because China has aggressively extended more than $34 billion in subsidized credit lines to solar energy companies, and governments like Germany and Canada offer strong support to their domestic clean energy industries, the United States government must either “compete or accept defeat.” The price of solar has plummeted more than 40% in the past year alone, and with deteriorating market conditions, manufacturing companies in particular have a difficult time getting off the ground. The DOE was facing the choice, Chu said, of either forcing Solyndra’s immediate bankruptcy, or restructuring the loan guarantee to allow the company to accept emergency financing. Ergo, instead of calling their losses, Secretary Chu decided to forge ahead, offering Solyndra multiple injections of taxpayer dollars.
After Republicans’ questioning, and making much use of the passive voice (i.e., “decisions were made”), Secretary Chu insisted that there was no direct White House influence of a political nature. He denied ever having spoken with either President Obama or his campaign donors about whether to refinance Solyndra’s loan, and that, at the time, he was unaware of the e-mails that came through his department asking that Solyndra delay the announcement of layoffs until after the 2010 elections. The decisions to refinance Solyndra’s loans were his own, said Chu, based on what he believed to be the company’s merits and potential.
Secretary Chu maintained that he always acted with the best interest of the taxpayer in mind rather than the desire for green energy jobs, although, when asked how much of the ‘invested’ taxpayer money he expected might be recovered, Chu said, “I’m anticipating not very much.”