As Mary Katherine recounted on Monday, we’ve all long since figured out that the Department of Energy’s decisions to dish out loan guarantees/grants/etcetera are highly political decisions, despite the administration’s incessant insistence that that just isn’t the case. In reference to the bankruptcy of taxpayer-supported Abound Solar last week, President Obama’s proclaimed that “these are decisions, by the way, that are made by the Department of Energy, they have nothing to do with politics,” but evidence abounds (heh, see what I did there?) to the contrary, which was picked up by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and released as part of their official investigation today.
Washington – As an update on the Committee’s investigation into the loan guarantee program, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today released a memorandum to its members including over 150 emails that contradict statements by the President, Secretary Chu, and White House and Department of Energy officials that politics had nothing to do with the Department of Energy’s controversial 1705 loan guarantee program, which used taxpayer money to fund “green energy” companies like Solyndra and Abound Solar, both of which are now bankrupt and under investigation. …
“The Administration should have disclosed these emails directly to Congress and the American people,” said House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif. “The Department of Energy failed to produce many of these emails, but the Committee received them from other sources.”
Issa continued: “The Administration has for too long attempted to distance itself from the management of the program and its failures- embracing the ribbon-cutting ceremonies and photo-ops, while blaming the bankruptcies and wasted taxpayer money on someone else.”
Just to provide another sample, here’s an e-mail from DOE credit adviser Jim McCrea to DOE executive director of loan programs Jonathan Silver, emphasis mine:
I am growing increasingly worried about a fast track process imposed on us at the POTUS level based on this chaotic process that we are undergoing. The work to date does not have near enough staff work to be supportable and is totally being done on the fly an dis being used by other agencies to impose theological views. We really get little out of fast tracking when you get right down to it and the process that is being designed is pure crap. Further, by legitimizing some of their theological views in the fast tracking screens, we give those views credibility that will be certainly be used against us for non fast tracked transactions. By designing the fast track process and having it approved at the POUTS level (which is an absolute waste of his time!) it legitimizes every element and it becomes embedded like the 55 % recovery rate which also was imposed by POTUS.
I think the time has come, given how poorly this process is going, to step back from all of this and to take a deep breath.
And as Joel Gehrke points out via the e-mails at the WashExaminer, the Obama administration may’ve taken a little too active of an interest in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s erstwhile reelection:
“Reid may be desperate,” McCrea wrote. “WH may want to help. Short term considerations may be more important than longer term considerations and what’s a billion anyhow?” …
A May 2010 email shows that Reid requested a meeting with Jonathan Silver — the Obama bundler who resigned his post at DOE after the Solyndra bankruptcy — to discuss green energy projects in Nevada.
Silver interpreted Reid’s request in light of the campaign. “Reid is constantly hit at home for not bringing in the federal dollars,” he wrote. Silver’s task, according to the DOE memo prepared for his meeting, was to assure Reid that “we anticipate a good number of projects to be approved in the coming months.”
Two Senate Republicans also introduced a separate report today, once again indicting the DOE for their terrible pseudo-business practices, via The Hill:
GOP Sens. John Thune (S.D.) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa) said the Energy Department’s advanced battery manufacturing program cost $158,556 for every job it created. They derived that figure by dividing the program’s $2 billion allotment by the roughly 12,614 jobs it created.
“The taxpayers paid $2 billion for a pretty lackluster return,” Grassley said in a Wednesday statement. “The administration billed this program as an all-around success toward creating jobs, but the results are a lot more mixed.”
The DOE is quibbling that the senators’ report doesn’t present an accurate picture because they have yet to disperse the entire allotment and they claim that the wider effects of their projects aren’t being taken into account, but I think it’s the Obama administration that’s missing the bigger picture here.
It is unequivocally not the job of the federal government to attempt to orchestrate which technologies and products consumers should or should not purchase, and the continuing attempts to do so are nothing short of economic malpractice. What’s more, too many of these government-funded green-energy pursuits have proven to be fronts for not merely the frivolous waste of taxpayer dollars, but corruption and cronyism, too. And this is what President Obama is telling us he’ll serve up more of in a second term (while merrily insisting that there is absolutely no way that any of it could possibly be motivated by politics!)? What a joke.