The Obama administration defended a loan of over $500 million to a Silicon Valley-based
solar panel company that recently went bankrupt despite warnings, saying that
the economy was to blame and that alternative energy investments must carry on
According to MSNBC,
the government loaned solar panel company Solyndra $535 million in 2009. The
move was set to stimulate economic growth through environmentally friendly
jobs. But Solyndra recently declared bankruptcy, laying off 1,100 workers.
Last week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raided Solyndra's
headquarters to investigate whether the government was given the wrong idea
when it handed over the hefty loan. Emails from government employees were
found, and are raising questions about the Obama administration's actions back
when Solyndra was given the loan.
According to The
Washington Post, the emails contained warnings from government
employees about the viability of Solyndra. Only days before the final approval,
an email predicted that the project would run out of money in September 2011 --
which is exactly what happened.
Another email from government staffers questioned the model the
government was using, but said "given the time pressure we are under to
sign off on Solyndra, we don't have time to change the model."
Reports state that the White House pushed the loan ahead despite warnings
in order to meet political deadlines. That way, Vice President Joe Biden could
announce the final approval at the groundbreaking for the new plant two years
The U.S. Department of Energy's loan office and the White House budget
office is defending their decisions, saying that the Solyndra loan was well in
place during the final years of President George W. Bush's administration.
“In fact, by
the time the Obama administration took office in late January 2009, the loan
programs staff had already established a goal of, and timeline for, issuing the
company a conditional loan guarantee commitment in March 2009,” said Jonathan
Silver, executive director of energy
Much of the Wednesday hearing consisted of
"assigning political blame," where Representative Cliff Stearns
(R-FL) who is the chairman of the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on oversight
and investigations, criticized the Democratic minority for voting against the
subpoena documents in regards to the deal.
“It should not take a financial restructuring,
bankruptcy and an F.B.I. raid for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle
to put politics aside and join us in our efforts,” said Stearns.
Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO) responded
by saying that solar energy is not an issue of Democratic or Republican, but
rather the security of American energy
innovation in the
Democrats didn't defend Solyndra, but did
defend the government's ability to push
the solar industry in order
to compete with China, which is encouraging solar energy on a large scale.
Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) added that
the U.S. Department of Energy is expected to award billions of dollars more in
loan guarantees by the end of this month alone, and questioned its ability to
choose those who will receive the loans.