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Clean Power solyndra romney obama

Published on September 12th, 2012 | by Stephen Lacey


5 Things to Know about Solyndra in 2012 Election Cycle

September 12th, 2012 by  

This article was originally published on Climate Progress. It has been republished here with full permission.

solyndra romney obamaOne year ago today, the solar manufacturer Solyndra filed for bankruptcy after receiving a $527 million loan guarantee. The bankruptcy set off a political firestorm in Congress, and eventually worked its way into the presidential campaign.

Today, the Republican party is using Solyndra as a key tool in its campaign against Obama — smearing the entire clean energy industry in the process.

If you’ve been paying attention to the issue over the last year, you’ve likely heard the name “Solyndra” so many times it makes you nauseous. But most Americans are only now paying attention to the campaign, so it’s likely that many are hearing the name for the first time. If you’re wondering what the GOP claims on Solyndra are all about, here are some facts to put the issue in context:

1. The loan guarantee program supporting Solyndra has been a success

The loan guarantee program, which provides government backing of private loans for first-of-a-kind projects, was designed to help leverage capital for innovative renewable energy projects during the height of the financial crisis. And it worked. Since the program was enhanced through the stimulus package, it has supported the world’s largest wind farm, the first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant, some of the largest solar PV plants in the world, and the country’s largest concentrating solar power project — nearly 40 projects in all that helped keep 60,000 people employed during the economic downturn.

2. The Solyndra bankruptcy represented a small fraction of the overall program

The loan guarantee program came under fire after the bankruptcies of a few high-risk companies — most famously Solyndra — that received backing. But according to John McCain’s National Finance Chairman, Herb Allison, the overall cost to taxpayers will be $2 billion less than actually budgeted for. Backing up the findings of Herb Allison, the Congressional Research Office also concluded that the majority of loans were extremely low risk. In fact, over the last 20 years of experience, the U.S. government has shown a knack for managing risk — with loans and loan guarantee programs only costing tax payers 94 cents for every $100 dollars invested.

3. There is “no evidence” of political manipulation

Since Solyndra went bankrupt, House lawmakers have held 12 hearings and official meetings, acquired more than 300,000 documents, issued two subpenas, and likely spent more than a million dollars on the investigation. What have they found? “No evidence of wrongdoing,”reported Bloomberg Businessweek. And in a more detailed investigation, the Washington Post went further: “The records do not establish that anyone pressured the Energy Department to approve the Solyndra loan to benefit political contributors.”

And just last month, House GOP lawmakers issued a progress report on their investigation. As The Hill reported on the findings“Republicans have not shown that the loan was granted as a result of political favoritism, despite repeated campaign-trail claims that the administration steered loans to Solyndra and other green-energy projects on the basis of political donations.”

4. Dozens of Republicans supported loan guarantees or similar programs

Since the Solyndra bankruptcy, many Republicans have scrambled to create a political scandal. However, a review of official documents and news reports over the years reveals that more than 60 Congressional Republicans — many of whom are critical of government support of renewables — have lobbied the Department of Energy for loan guarantees, grants, and other support for clean energy projects in their districts. In addition, Congressman Darrell Issa, one of the leaders of the House investigation into the Solyndra bankruptcy, strongly supported billions of dollars in loan guarantees for nuclear energy projects. However, when such tools are used for renewable energy, he labels it “picking winners and losers.”

5. Republicans have bluntly admitted the investigation is political

With multiple Congressional and journalistic investigations revealing no evidence of political manipulation, why does the GOP continue to spend so much time on the issue? One Republican, Representative Jim Jordan from Ohio, recently admitted that the plan was to keep Solyndra in the headlines throughout the election — no matter what the outcome: “Ultimately, we’ll stop it on Election Day, hopefully. And bringing attention to these things helps the voters and citizens of the country make the kind of decision that I hope helps them as they evaluate who they are going to vote for in November.”

A year after the Solyndra bankruptcy, we still haven’t found any evidence of political wrongdoing. But facts be dammed, the GOP is now using Solyndra as a central part of its national messaging strategy against Obama. So the next time you hear “Solyndra” in a debate or on the campaign trail, keep these facts in mind.

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About the Author

is an editor at Greentech Media. Formerly, he was a reporter/blogger for Climate Progress, where he wrote about clean energy policy, technologies, and finance. Before joining CP, he was an editor/producer with RenewableEnergyWorld.com. He received his B.A. in journalism from Franklin Pierce University.

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  • Oh, and BTW….many qualified science savvy told Barry not to believe the so called “technology” …..the average physics student could have figured that one out…..financial advisors also advised him not to do it…….
    And please, no bipartisen remarks…..both the candidates SUCK

    • Bob_Wallace

      I’m calling BS on your BS Stan.

      Furnish proof for your claims.

    • T Adkins

      Are these the same people who tried to help Bush push thru the loan b4 Barry could to take credit for it? But luckily there was a hold up or Bush would be sitting with the so called mess.
      The tech and the numbers were fine it was China doing amazing things with in house investment that no one predicted and the silicon production bottle neck clearing suddenly and dramatically lower the price of silicon after many year of high prices. Solyndra’s loss is a shining example of the solar market making huge improvements in cost, efficiency and supply.

      I can say that I agree that both candidates are terrible choices, but the facts are at the time the numbers were great so great the Bush and Obama wanted credit for it. Having no real love for the current administration, there is plenty enough that was done wrong to call the guy out on this isnt one of them.

  • Once again….we are diffusing an issue with rhetoric…..if there would just be a paper trail done on the money……you will so have the wrongdoers fully exposed…..last week, it was announced on the ticker on the bottom of some news shows, that said (quoted loosly from memory) “It is expected that not much of the $582 M (their number) will be accounted for”
    Well, of COURSE not…..arms dealers in the black market sector don’t give reciepts…..thanks for helping to fund the middle east uprisings Barry……oh? Rediculous? Show me the money.

  • Rick

    Not preaching to the choir here. As an electrical engineer, I love reading about new technology that is transforming the renewable energy landscape. I enjoy learning about advances in battery technology or solar cell efficiency. I am weary however of the constant political partisanship.

    We can disagree about whether government programs or private entrepreneurship are leading this revolution. We may even disagree about whether this huge debt we are accumulating as a nation is going to burden our children for years to come. But I am not here to listen to your pro-Obama cheer leading. You are alienating a significant portion of your audience with your constant political ranting. There are fiscal conservatives who care about our planet and about the deficit.

    Of course, this is your blog. You are free to use it as you please. There are other blogs out there (Green Car Congress, Biofuels Digest, Renewable Energy News) for those of us who care about the reckless spending that is going on in Washington as much as we do about peak oil or global warming.

    • Bob_Wallace

      So you only want to hear people spread anti-Obama lies.

      Got it.

      Speaking of caring about reckless spending, how did you enjoy what happened to the federal debt the last two times Republicans had control of the White House? You get a warm fuzzy feeling about the way Reagan/Bush I and then Bush II took declining national debt and turned things around, running our debt level up and up and up?

      Reckless spending. That would be something like starting two wars and financing them with public debt, would it not?

    • Well you clicked on this article knowing what it was pretty much going to be about.
      The republicans are attacking programs that help fund those innovative technologies you like reading about.
      I didn’t see any Obama cheer leading as you call it in this post, its simply an examination of facts that happen to disfavor republicans
      If you support green energy or things like what this blogs posts about how in your mind can you vote for republicans, They constantly put down global warming, evolution, and green energies themselves. They target renewable tax credits but want to leave old oil ones in place.

      So please explain to me how as a renewable energy supporter you can support republicans, now i would love for this to be one side wants more wind and the other wants solar or what ever but its not that, its one side wants renewable and the other wants to destroy the industries because they are “liberal scams”

      • thanks, Jeff. very well said.

        i genuinely have no hard feelings towards GOP voters who support cleantech and support current Republican leaders — i’m just completely confused as to how they do so. and, in general, completely confused why anyone other than a super rich white dude would support them… and even if i were one of those, there’d only be one logical reason to do so.

        i wish more than anyone that we never had to post a single thing related to politics on here.

    • i’m glad you enjoy the science & technology news.

      i’m just in shock that a cleantech supporter can not be appalled by the current leaders of the Republican party. Obama is far from a saint for me — seems like he would have been a Republican just a couple decades ago (many of his policies are of GOP origin).

      anyway, i think all of our American writers have independently spoken up about their complete dissatisfaction with GOP leadership, and they have since the beginning of this blog. but i basically just repost stuff when it is based on clear facts, and especially when it dispels myths.

      there are long discussions to be had on what intelligent governmental philosophy and policy are. far more than we can cover. but we try to do our bit.

      • Bob_Wallace

        A lot of people on the left are disappointed in PBO’s performance – he didn’t go far enough left for their tastes.

        I’ve use this analogy before, but I still like it…

        PBO went to where the wagon was stuck in the mud. He pulled it out, cleaned it off and has started driving it toward the left’s goals.

        He did not go to where those goals are located and wait for the wagon to show up on its own.

        • he’s opened up a tremendous amount of land to coal mining and oil business. he’s let Arctic drilling go fwd. (notably, this is all through Salazar.)
          fine, if he thinks it’s a worthwhile political strategy. personally, i don’t think it is and think it’s a horrible idea. do i give him an F? not at all. but far from an A.

          (same sort of thing on numerous issues.)

          he’s a moderate, and in another generation, very well might have been a moderate Republican. is that the best way to move us forward in today’s extreme political environment? in some instances, yes. in others, no.

          i’ll be voting for him. we’ll have more policy- and politics-related posts in the coming months. much to the chagrin of some readers, unfort. but i’m not a starry-eyed head of the fanclub. wish i felt i should be.

          • Bob_Wallace

            A moderate Republican, at any time in the last 50 years, would have furthered the rights of women and gays? Would have extended health insurance to all Americans?

            No, sorry, I’m not buying your version of a moderate Republican.

            Opening up more land for oil and coal extraction. Does that really mean that the world will extract more oil and coal? I don’t think so. The amount extracted will be determined by demand. Blocking access on US land would have meant taking a political hit without producing any gains. We get rid of coal and gas mainly by substituting cheaper energy sources.
            Personally I would rather we drill for oil on US soil where the environmental controls are stronger than, say, some under-developed country where the government can be paid to turn a blind eye to spills and other bad practice.

            I’m not a starry-eyed fan, I’m someone who tries to be a realist. Unless a Democrat is in the White House no progressive, left-leaning legislation will be signed into law. A Democrat in the White House cannot sign legislation into law unless that legislation is first written and passed by Congress.

            I’m afraid too many on the left have suffered from too high expectations that they, themselves, set. We elected PBO but we failed to give him a cooperative Congress. Even in his first two years the Democratic caucus majority in the Senate was a filibuster-proof majority for only 96 days and when there were 60 votes some of those were people like the Senator from Louisiana who votes the way big oil wants.

            The House passed an climate bill. Republicans in Congress had the votes to kill it. The climate bill did not make it to the President’s desk for a signature.

            In 2010 we did not turn out an vote in a better Congress, in fact far too many of us showed up to vote in a barely adequate Congress and progress ground to a halt once Republicans gained control of the House.

            One cannot blame the carpenter they hired for making slow progress building their new house when they furnish him warped lumber and bent nails.

  • Hans

    I think you are preaching to the choir here. The question is how to get this message into the mainstream media who have swallowed the republican spin

    • Not only the choir here. And plenty of traffic from Google searches and such.

      Plus, even much of the choir doesn’t know many of the points above.

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