Solyndra LLC, a now-bankrupt solar-panel manufacturer, has become the focus of considerable attention from congressional Republicans, who think it proves some kind of larger point. The GOP line keeps running into trouble, and in one new case, the evidence is especially embarrassing for one Republican warrior.
Solyndra developed a solar technology that offered real promise, and received U.S. loan guarantees through the Department of Energy, but the market shifted, prices dropped, and Solyndra was forced to fold. It’s the price of experimentation and innovation — sometimes these investments work out, sometimes they don’t.
The GOP is eager to use this as part of a larger indictment against clean-energy programs in general, but they’ve already stepped all over their own message — the same Republicans complaining about the Department of Energy’s loan-guarantees program for clean tech have also fought for funding from the same program for companies in their own states.
The newest example of this phenomenon may be the worst.
Republican Representative Darrell Issa, who said government subsidies to specific companies can encourage corruption, sought U.S. help in the past for clean- energy projects in his home state of California.
Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote Energy Secretary Steven Chu to support an Energy Department loan for Aptera Motors Inc., a Carlsbad, California, electric-car maker, according to a letter received by the department Jan. 14, 2010.
“Awarding this opportunity to Aptera Motors will greatly assist a leading developer of electric vehicles in my district,” Issa wrote in letters obtained yesterday…. Issa also signed a June 22, 2009, letter to Chu promoting battery maker Quallion LLC, based in Sylmar, California. An Energy Department clean-energy grant might create more than 2,300 jobs nationwide, according to the letter, which was signed by Issa and 16 members of California’s delegation.
Literally just yesterday on C-SPAN, Issa, arguably Congress’ most aggressive attack dog targeting the White House, proclaimed, “There’s been this attitude that somehow the government can weigh-in with loan guarantees and money and pick specific company winners and losers. We see that as a backdoor, easy way to end up with corruption in government.”
So, Issa is against DOE loan guarantees, except when he’s for them, and he believes Obama administration investments can’t create jobs, except when he believes they can create jobs.
As if this weren’t quite enough, Issa’s oversight committee will hold a hearing tomorrow titled, “How Obama’s Green-Energy Agenda is Killing Jobs.”
But wait, there’s more. Greg Sargent gets a hold of the original Issa letter and notices that the conservative Republican Californian “also generally endorses the concept of using Federal money to facilitate the shift away from fossil fuels and gas-powered vehicles, towards renewal energy sources. Issa even endorses the idea that this is a good way to create jobs — a position that puts him at odds with many Republicans.”