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Thread: Energy Secretary Chu Hits Back in Solyndra Hearing

  1. #1
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    Energy Secretary Chu Hits Back in Solyndra Hearing

    http://idealab.talkingpointsmemo.com...ra-hearing.php

    Energy Secretary Steven Chu was on Wednesday subjected to over three hours of grilling from House lawmakers investigating the $535 million loan guarantee his agency granted to Solyndra, a solar company favored by the White House that went bankrupt in August.

    But throughout the hearing conducted by the House Energy and Commerce Committees Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Chu maintained his calm and repeatedly rebuffed Republican suggestions that the Obama Administration influenced the Energy Departments decision making in any way.

    Concerning the Solyndra loan guarantee, Chu said in his opening remarks that the final decisions were mine. I made them with best interests of taxpayer in mind. I did not make any decision based on political consideration.

    Later, when questioned by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) about the process that lead the Energy Department to reverse the decision it made under the Bush Administration not to approve Solyndras loan guarantee, Chu explained that there had been, in fact, no such reversal, as some Republicans have accused, and surely not a politically motivated one.

    What happened when I became Energy Secretary, beginning with my confirmation, was that there was tremendous interest in getting the loan program going. I was told by Energy career people, who had been there during the previous [Bush] administration, that Solyndra was the first loan in line, Chu said.

    Chu explained that although the loan guarantee had not been approved by the Energy Department during the waning weeks of the Bush Administration, it also wasnt rejected outright, only labeled as containing incomplete information. Instead, the loan guarantee application had been sent back to Solyndra with further questions from the Energy Department.

    The same career folks said: You satisfied our questions. We recommend moving forward with loan, so thats what we did, Chu said.

    Chu also admitted that he and the Energy Department were alone responsible for restructuring the loan in February so that private investors would get paid before the government in bankruptcy recovery.

    In addition, Chu said they undertook that process without any prompting from the White House or anyone connected to the President, including billionaire Obama campaign bundler George Kaiser, whose family foundation was a major private investor in Solyndra.

    Did anyone from the Obama Administration or any campaign donor tell you to undertake restructuring? asked DeGette.

    No, none ever did, Chu said.

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    http://idealab.talkingpointsmemo.com...pnewsfeed_beta

    In a spectacular case of instant karma, House Republicans’ plan to roast Energy Secretary Steven Chu in Thursday’s investigative hearing into Solyndra appears to have backfired. Chu seems reinvigorated in his effort to make the U.S. into global clean energy leader, calling for increased U.S. investment in alternatives on a tour of General Electric solar plant in Colorado on Friday, while Republicans seem at odds with their own message.

    “There are some in Washington who think we can’t, or shouldn’t, compete when it comes to producing solar panels, wind turbines and other clean energy technologies,” Chu said at GE’s PrimeStar plant in Arvada, CO, the Hill reported. “They’re ready to wave the white flag and declare defeat. I disagree.”

    The plant, which GE purchased along with the company PrimeStar in April, developed the highest-efficiency thin film solar panel ever publicly announced. GE plans to build a new PrimeStar factory in Aurora, Colorado, which would be the nation’s largest. Before it was purchased by GE, PrimeStar received $3 million from the Energy Department, the Seattle Post Intelligencer reported.




    Also, before the hearing, Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK), countered his own party’s attempt to link the Solyndra loan guarantee approval to the fact that the company received major funding from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a charity nonprofit founded by Oklahoma billionaire George Kaiser, who was also an Obama 2010 campaign bundler.

    “I don’t see any illegality by [Kasier] or any impropriety,” Sullivan told the Tulsa World. “He was just doing what a businessman does.”

    Still, analysis from former Energy Department officials and others in the press indicates that not only will Chu keep his job, but that Republicans have come out of the hearing looking worse for the wear.

    “I don’t think there was any kind of ‘smoking-gun’ type question-and-answer that came out of the session,” Salo Zelermyer, a former Energy Department senior counsel during the Bush Administration, Reuters reported Friday.

  3. #3
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    Solyndra: Energy Dept. pushed firm to keep layoffs quiet until after midterms

    By Carol D. Leonnig and Joe Stephens, Published: November 15
    The Obama administration, which gave the solar company Solyndra a half-billion-dollar loan to help create jobs, asked the company to delay announcing it would lay off workers until after the hotly contested November 2010 midterm elections that imperiled Democratic control of Congress, newly released e-mails show.

    The announcement could have been politically damaging because President Obama and others in the administration had held up Solyndra as a poster child of its clean-energy initiative, saying the company’s new factory, built with the help of stimulus money, could create 1,000 jobs. Six months before the midterm elections, Obama visited Solyndra’s California plant to praise its success, even though outside auditors had questioned whether the operation might collapse in debt.

    Yeap, great ideas by the left, great waste of taxpayer productivity - don't worry, it isn't your money: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politi...iON_story.html

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    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-f...,7894161.story

    Reporting from Washington— Energy Secretary Steven Chu is a physicist, not a politician, but he was unflappable under attack from Republicans and refused to apologize for a $535-million loan guarantee given to now-bankrupt solar equipment maker Solyndra.

    In his first appearance before Congress since the Solyndra controversy broke nearly three months ago, Chu firmly pushed back against allegations that political favoritism and bureaucratic incompetence led his agency to approve the Solyndra loan guarantee.

    "Was there incompetence?" Chu said in response to Michigan Republican Fred Upton's request for an apology. "Was there any influence of a political nature? So I would say no. It is extremely unfortunate what has happened to Solyndra."




    Chu said he knew few of the details about Solyndra until the company began to falter late last year and needed its loan guarantee restructured. Many of the decisions about the loan were made by career civil servants, emails have shown.

    Chu, a Nobel prize winner and Washington outsider, parried often-repetitive questions over the nearly five hours of the hearing. During his testimony, he made clear that he had little hope of recovering most of the money backed by the Energy Department's guarantee.

    Solyndra was once the darling of the venture capital world, collecting accolades from MIT and the Wall Street Journal and more than $1 billion in private investment for its innovative solar technology.

    Chu, reiterating explanations of others, said the company failed after demand for solar equipment slackened and panel prices plummeted from the effects of China's heavy subsidies for its own manufacturers. House Republicans assert that Chu should have seen such a fall coming.

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    Also, before the hearing, Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK), countered his own party’s attempt to link the Solyndra loan guarantee approval to the fact that the company received major funding from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a charity nonprofit founded by Oklahoma billionaire George Kaiser, who was also an Obama 2010 campaign bundler.

    “I don’t see any illegality by [Kasier] or any impropriety,” Sullivan told the Tulsa World. “He was just doing what a businessman does.”

    Still, analysis from former Energy Department officials and others in the press indicates that not only will Chu keep his job, but that Republicans have come out of the hearing looking worse for the wear.

    http://idealab.talkingpointsmemo.com...pnewsfeed_beta

    “I don’t think there was any kind of ‘smoking-gun’ type question-and-answer that came out of the session,” Salo Zelermyer, a former Energy Department senior counsel during the Bush Administration, Reuters reported Friday.

    “House Republicans may have squandered their golden opportunity when they decided to make Chu, Washington’s most lovable nerd, the fall guy for the scandal,” wrote Grace Wyler at the Business Insider, “No one person is to blame for the Solyndra debacle — the entire DOE loan program is seriously flawed. And taking cheap shots at shy nuclear physicists isn’t going to fix it.”

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    SAT NOV 19, 2011 AT 09:00 AM PST
    Key Republican backed loans to failed solar energy firm
    byJed Lewison
    Republicans keep on getting caught with their pants down over their Solyndra scandalmongering:
    House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who has criticized the administration for its failed loan guarantee to the firm Solyndra, urged the Energy Department to approve funding assistance for a Michigan solar company that said last week it is halting operations.
    Upton and 13 other Michigan lawmakers sent a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu in December 2009 recommending Auburn Hills-based United Solar Ovonics for a loan under President Obama’s economic stimulus bill.

    The loan was never approved by the Energy Department, but Upton’s advocacy for United Solar stands in contrast to his recent skepticism about the government’s clean-energy loan guarantee program.

    Upton has pursued two lines of argument against the administration over Solyndra. First, he says the government shouldn't pick winners and losers. Second, he says Solyndra shouldn't have been given the loan because it was a company in trouble. This news exposes the hypocrisy of both arguments—not only did he urge the government to "pick a winner," he urged it to pick a winner that was on the cusp of failure.

    My point here isn't to bash Upton for having backed the firm. My point is that instead of hypocritical partisan demagoguery, what America needs from Republicans is renewed commitment to developing clean and sustainable sources of energy. Remember, Bush signed the legislation that created the loan guarantees in the first place, and it was the Bush administration that originally supported the Solyndra loan application. This is one Bush policy they ought not abandon.

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