Biden's Clean Energy Scam Fund

(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

In the past few days, I spoke with a mid-level government employee who described the federal government under Joe Biden as a “well-oiled machine.”

I didn’t actually laugh out loud, but not because I didn’t think the claim was absurd; I was too gobsmacked to believe that anybody could say that with a straight face.


But now I am reconsidering my skepticism, after reading a devastating piece by Kimberly Strassel in the Wall Street Journal.

Buried in all the trillions of dollars of Biden’s stimulus bills is a reboot of the Obama-era fund that poured billions into failed Green Tech companies that left Obama cronies infinitely richer and the rest of us substantially poorer.

You remember, right? In Obama’s stimulus package, $80 billion was set aside to squander on people who could talk a good game about transforming energy, and who just happened to be politically connected. It was a nice scam for them, infuriated people like you and me, and provided some minor dark humor to people who are so cynical that they just expect everything that happens in government to be a scam.

Out of this, we got Solyndra, Fisker Automotive, A123 battery, and a lot of companies that never became household names, but left a lot of scammers wealthy.

Well, Biden is good at one and only one thing: being corrupt, he took Obama’s $80 billion and quintupled the size of the “loan” fund to a massive $400 billion, and according to Strassel the loan fund is indeed a well-oiled machine for distributing taxpayer cash to politically-connected friends of the president’s team.

Biden appointed one of the most politically connected green scammers in the world to run his revived loan fund, and he has gone to work burning your tax dollars with abandon. A veritable bonfire of bills.


As if to prove that anything Mr. Biden could botch 10 years ago he can botch bigger and better now, the loan office is back, baby. Americans gasped at the audacity of Barack Obama’s $814 billion stimulus bill in 2009—and of gambling some $80 billion on clean energy—but that’s peanuts. The Biden spending rampage has bestowed on Mr. Shah, director of the loan department, a stunning $400 billion to hand out to green companies too risky for traditional lenders, or too politically powerful to turn down. According to a July Journal story, the “pile of cash is at least 20 times as big as most private green-energy funds.”

With that kind of funny money, Mr. Shah and DOE aren’t restricting themselves to small-time bets. The agency agreed to a $1 billion loan for Monolith, a company that promises to make hydrogen out of natural gas. Sunnova, a solar company, landed a $3 billion loan guarantee. Then there are all the real paupers. General Motors and LG scooped up $2.5 billion to build electric-vehicle battery plants. Ford landed a record $9.2 billion battery commitment. The Ford loan would be $3.3 billion larger than what the company borrowed during the Detroit meltdown of 2008-09.

Do you want to know why Ford is willing to lose tens of thousands of dollars per electric vehicle sold? A big fat check from the government will make you do some ridiculous-looking things.

The man in question is Jigar Shah, who founded a sketchy trade association of green tech companies, and if you are a member of that exclusive club then get to the front of the line for that sweet sweet federal loot. The Washington Free Beacon dropped the dime on him last month:


The Cleantech Leaders Roundtable has seen a surge in its influence and revenue since its former president, Shah, was tapped to lead the powerful $400 billion Department of Energy Loan Programs Office (LPO) in 2021.

The group, which didn’t have a website until three years ago, now regularly hosts sold-out receptions featuring Shah for its paying members across the country. Last week, the DOE Loans Program Office and Cleantech Leaders co-hosted an invitation-only conference in Washington, D.C., for companies looking for loans—and Cleantech Leaders was in charge of the invite list and ticket sales.

During this time, companies connected to the trade association have raked in cash from Shah’s office. Last week, the Loan Programs Office approved a $3 billion loan to a solar company led by Cleantech Leaders’s board director. The group’s corporate sponsors have also pulled in funding.

The cozy relationship between Shah and Cleantech Leaders is raising questions about whether the organization’s members are getting favorable treatment in the loan process.

“It appears as if the Department of Energy has allowed a dark money climate group to be the gatekeepers of taxpayer dollars,” said Caitlin Sutherland, director of the Americans for Public Trust, an ethics watchdog group. “Friends, coworkers, and corporate allies should not be given preferential financial treatment when seeking access to government programs.”

See? Well-oiled machine! The nonprofit gets to sell access to Shah, and Shah gets to distribute booty to the people who pay up!


Why go through something as messy and unpredictable as having a good business plan that might provide a return on investment when you can just write a fat check to a friend of the Administration and get a guaranteed return on your investment at the taxpayers’ expense?

Solyndra showed the way under Obama: kiss the ring of the right people and you can get even richer. Shah has added to the mix a new level of scamming by creating an honest-to-God pay-to-play level to the game.

Strassel’s piece, which you should read in full, is guaranteed to give you a crick in your neck from shaking it so often. There is almost no pretense that any of this burning of Benjamins will produce anything that taxpayers will benefit from.

One recipient of DOE largess, Sunnova, shares a board member with Cleantech—an executive also married to a former Democratic National Committee chair. Several of the conference’s financial sponsors were also seeking or had received DOE loans. Questioned about conflicts by Sen. Barrasso in an October hearing, Mr. Shah said “federal staff” make decisions and he has “no role to play.”

Then again, the Journal story related details of Mr. Shah pitching loans and recruiting a firm (battery recycler Li-Cycle), while making clear “White House officials” weigh in on potential loans. In a statement after the committee hearing, Cleantech said it “is proud of the role it has played in bringing together thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and investors” and that as a “nonpartisan nonprofit” its “networking events” are “open to non-members.”

Ford announced recently it is putting on hold production at one of three massive EV plants to be financed by its DOE loan. In October, Li-Cycle (with a $375 million loan commitment) suspended construction of its flagship Rochester, N.Y., facility citing costs, a development that Democratic Rep. Joe Morelle called “frankly shocking.”


Republicans in Congress are pushing back, but you and I know that nothing can or will be done as long as Biden is in office and Schumer runs the Senate. For them, the government exists solely as a mechanism to remove cash from taxpayer wallets and insert it into their own pockets and those of their friends.

So perhaps my cynicism about government not being a well-oiled machine is not reasonable. I keep thinking government should be producing good outcomes for the citizens of America, but it’s pretty clear that the machine is finely tuned and working well to redistribute cash from you and me to the friends of the Democratic Party.

And it is doing so quite well, thank you. Well oiled indeed.

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