HOW DOES THE CORRUPT DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY PAY OFF OBAMA CAMPAIGN
It's been exactly ten years since the Solyndra solar
power company accepted a loan of half a billion taxpayer dollars that
would never be repaid. Now one industry expert says he's not sure any
lessons have been learned in the years since.
On March 20, 2009, then-Secretary of Energy Steven
Chu announced Solyndra would be the recipient of a $535 million loan
from his department under the Obama administration's revamped loan
guarantee program. Solyndra used the money, along with
hundreds-of-millions more from private investors, to build a new
facility where it would be mass-producing its easy-to-install
cylindrical solar "panels." The whole thing lasted about two years.
President Obama lifts a solar panel as he tours a Solyndra
facility in Fremont, Calif. (Reuters)
The ill-fated energy company had initially asked President George Bush
for cash under the loan guarantee program, which was created to help
companies working with clean energy technologies that might be
considered too risky for private investors.
But it wasn't until President Obama launched his sweeping stimulus
spending plan that Solyndra's application was approved, launching the
California company to poster-child status despite what were apparently
growing concerns about its long-term (and even short-term)
Those concerns were reportedly being relayed to the White House in the
run-up to President Obama's highly publicized visit to Solyndra
headquarters, which was scheduled just six months before the 2010
midterm elections. Congressional investigators later uncovered
information indicating that Solyndra was planning on laying off some of
its employees ahead of the midterms, but waited due to pressure from the
By the end of August 2011, little more than a year after hosting a
presidential visit, Solyndra had filed for bankruptcy. And the writing
was on the wall much earlier.
In Feburary 2011, the Department of Energy had restructured its loan
and included terms that guaranteed private investors would be repaid
before the government in the event the company went under.
Adding to the anger among Republicans over what was perceived as a
politically-charged loan process was the fact that one of the private
investors backing Solyndra was a well-known Obama fundraising bundler,
"[T]he actions of certain Solyndra officials were,
at best, reckless and irresponsible or, at worst, an orchestrated
effort to knowingly and intentionally deceive and mislead the
A little more than a week after the company announced it was going
bankrupt, the FBI conducted a surprise raid and agents were seen
carrying crates upon crates from Solyndra HQ in Fremont, Calif.
Inspector General report found that Solyndra had over-inflated the
value of some of its contracts, with some clients apparently receiving
goods at a discount despite indications they would be paying full price.
Some of the clients they had been counting on wound up bailing due to
the availability of much cheaper technologies from China.
Either way, the IG report indicates that "the investigative record
suggests that the actions of certain Solyndra officials were, at best,
reckless and irresponsible or, at worst, an orchestrated effort to
knowingly and intentionally deceive and mislead the Department." The IG
admits that there were signs the government might have missed some
obvious red flags, while critics have argued those red flags were
more likely overlooked intentionally.
Sept. 8, 2011: FBI agents stand guard outside of Solyndra
headquarters in Fremont, Calif. (AP)
The loan guarantee program that helped Solyndra get off the ground,
however briefly, still exists today, and taxpayer dollars are still
being shelled out to energy companies of all types. The solar industry
itself also doesn't seem to have suffered much, with a recent industry report
predicting the number of installed solar projects would more than
double by 2021.
Tom Pyle, an energy industry expert who led the Trump presidential
transition team on energy, says the program's ongoing existence despite
the lessons learned from the Solyndra debacle shows that government has
no business backing private energy companies, whether they're solar or
Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison. left, and Chief Financial Officer
Bill Stover, right, testified to House lawmakers in September 2011.
Attorneys Walter Brown is at left, and Jan. Nielsen Little is at
right in this photo. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
"Even though President Trump has submitted very responsible budgets,
including eliminating the loan program, Congress continues to fund it...
even more generously," Pyle tells Fox News.
And when he considers the prospects of our energy future under
proposals like the Green New Deal, Pyle says the lack of knowledge
becomes all the more obvious.
"The bottom line is the Green New Dealers want to impose massive
government control of our energy resources, and infuse billions of our
taxpayer dollars into doubling down on the Solyndras and those
projects," Pyle says. "So there aren't lessons being learned here,
they're going the opposite way."
The Honorable Steven Chu
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20585
VIA FACSIMILE: (202) 586-4403
Dear Secretary Chu:
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is an independent
nonprofit that investigates and exposes corruption and other
misconduct in order to achieve a more effective, accountable, open,
and ethical federal government. As we believe that is your goal for
the Department of Energy (DOE) as well, we were shocked to learn
that you recently recognized the National Nuclear Security
Administration (NNSA) for "Project Management Excellence" for the
National Ignition Facility (NIF) project.
The criteria for the award is to have "demonstrated 'exceptional'
results in completing a project within cost and schedule."
The project has done neither; in fact, the NIF project has been
derided for years by the GAO, IG, and others as perhaps the worst
example of program management.
It is extraordinary that NNSA is currently claiming the NIF
construction was completed within budget, because the project is the
most egregious rubber baseline—constantly changing the cost and
schedule—that we have ever seen. In the early 1990s, the DOE sold
the NIF project to Congress with a reported cost estimate of $700
million and an original completion date of 2002. With its 192 laser
beams to simulate a thermonuclear burn, the NIF was to be a critical
part of certifying that nuclear warheads are safe and reliable. The
most recent cost estimate is $5-6 billion with a completion date of
2010—more than 600 percent over budget and at least 8 years behind
schedule. In addition, NNSA has recently morphed the NIF's mission
into helping to solve the energy crisis.
At best, it is premature to give such an award until the NIF
actually achieves its promise of fusion ignition with energy gain.
Some scientists are convinced that ignition and energy gain will be
easily achieved. Others remain convinced it will never be achieved
and that the glass lens will hold not up.
With all the changes in target design over the years, it is not
possible to sort out who is right until 2010-2011 when we will know
for sure. So perhaps 2011, after ignition and energy gain are
achieved as long-promised, would be the time to consider giving out
any types of NIF management awards. Even then, ignition will have
come at a price far higher than promised, and doubts will remain
about the long-term survival of the optics without expensive and
frequent replacement. In other words, we do not know yet what
product was built. Certainly, a lot of tax dollars were spent. And
just as certainly, a lot of lab employees worked long and hard, and
many sacrifices were made to assemble the NIF as it sits today. But
we do not know if the NIF will produce as promised, and will not
know until 2010-2011.
It appears the NIF program office has pulled an old trick out of
their hat. A decade ago, the NIF program office put together a
statement for then-newly confirmed Secretary Bill Richardson,
applauding the management of the NIF for keeping the project under
budget and ahead of schedule. The Secretary was furious days later
when he learned that he had been misled: the NIF construction was
far over budget and at least one year behind schedule. It was a
"major embarrassment" for the Secretary.
Beyond the obvious management problems associated with an
out-of-control budget and construction that is years behind
schedule, the NIF has displayed a number of other serious management
problems as well. A 2007 GAO report determined that the NIF did not
have proper cyber security controls in place, resulting in
unauthorized access to its computer systems and potentially
releasing sensitive information.
An IG report from 2008 determined that the NIF did not have proper
safety procedures in place, nearly resulting in a serious accident.
Overall, these studies demonstrate a glaring lack of good management
in the NIF project.
In order to send a message that you are serious about cleaning up
DOE's pathetic record of program management, we suggest you consider
rescinding the management award given to the NIF project. This
episode should serve as a warning to you that the nuclear weapons
complex should not be allowed to run on autopilot. It requires
In addition to the NIF, POGO has a number of concerns with the
nuclear weapons program that we would like to discuss with you. We
will give your office a call within the next week. If you have any
questions before then, please feel free to contact me at (202)
29, 2009 - DOE response to POGO's letter about NIF’s project
National Nuclear Security Administration, "NNSA Recognized for
Project Management Excellence," April 7, 2009. http://nnsa.energy.gov/2319.htm.
Secretary of Energy's Project Management Excellence Awards Program.
Hugh Gusterson, "Why Thomas Friedman is wrong about the National
Ignition Facility," Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, April
James Glanz, "Laser Project is Delayed and Over Budget: Report
Highlights Troubles at Nuclear Testing Facility," New York
Times, August 19, 2000. http://www.nytimes.com/library/national/science/081900sci-laser-missiles.html
Government Accountability Office, National Nuclear Security
Administration: Additional Actions Needed to Improve Management of
the Nation's Nuclear Programs, January 31, 2007. http://www.gao.gov/htext/d07428t.html.
Government Accountability Office, National Ignition Facility:
Management and Oversight Failures Caused Major Cost Overruns and
Schedule Delays, August 2000. http://www.gao.gov/archive/2000/rc00141.pdf.
 DOE Inspector General, Implementation of Integrated Safety
Management at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, July
Obama Throws Another $2.1 Billion Thrown Down The Toilet!
Belly-Up: Yet Another Obama Green Energy Company Goes Bankrupt After
Receiving $2.1 Billion Government Loan Guarantees
Yet another one of Obama’s pet Green Energy companies (Solar Trust) has
gone belly-up, and filed for bankruptcy, less than a year after
receiving $2.1 billion in government-backed loan guarantees! In reality,
that means that an already failing company was handed $2.1 billion in
free money, with no plan or hope by the Obama administration of getting
re-paid, other than now having a group of people who owe Obama big time!
When will the American People stand up and say “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! WE
WILL NO LONGER ALLOW THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO WASTE ANY MORE OF OUR
HARD-EARNED MONEY ON THESE GREEN ENERGY …
...Continue Reading Solar Trust Belly-Up: Yet Another Obama
Green Energy Company Goes Bankrupt After Receiving $2.1 Billion
Government Loan Guarantees
Meet the next two Solyndra-like Obama loan scandals that are
sure to be in the news in the very new future.
The Obama administration’s Energy Department has just approved two more
government-backed loan guarantees, worth more than $1 billion, for two
more solar energy companies, similar to the loan they gave Solyndra.
- Tonopah Solar – $737 million gov loan
- Mesquite Solar – $337 million gov loan
Soon, we will also be learning about what friends and supporters of
Obama’s are involved with the companies, and how much the companies have
donated to Obama.
The Energy Department on Wednesday approved two loan guarantees worth
more than $1 billion for solar energy projects in Nevada and Arizona,
two days before the expiration date of a program that has become a
Corruption: The Secretary of Energy takes responsibility
for and defends the granting of a half-billion-dollar-loan guarantee to an
imploding solar panel maker. But that's not where the campaign donor buck
In testimony Thursday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Steven
Chu, caught in a tangled web of administration deceit regarding a $535
million guaranteed loan to Solyndra, tried but failed to continue the
administration line that the affair was just a good-faith bet that went bad.
"As the Secretary of Energy, the final decisions on Solyndra were mine,
and I made them with the best interest of the taxpayer in mind," Chu
claimed in his opening statement. "I want to be clear: Over the course of
Solyndra's loan guarantee, I did not make any decision based on political
If political considerations were not involved, then explain the Oct. 30,
2010, email in which advisers to Solyndra's primary investor, Argonaut
Equity, said the Energy Department had strongly urged the company to put off
an announcement of looming layoffs until Nov. 3, the day after the midterm
elections in which President Obama's failed stimulus was a hot issue.
In point of fact, newly disclosed emails show Democratic fundraiser and
Solyndra investor George Kaiser talked directly with White House officials
about the now-bankrupt solar company's $535 million loan guarantee from
the Department of Energy.
Kaiser, a major Obama bundler and backer who raised $50,000 to $100,000 for
the president's election campaign, was one of Solyndra's primary investors.
Kaiser himself donated $53,500 to Obama's 2008 election campaign, split
between the DSCC and Obama for America.
In a March 5 email, Kaiser wrote to Solyndra board member Steve Mitchell:
"BTW, a couple of weeks ago, when Ken and I were visiting with a group of
Administration folks in DC who are in charge of the stimulus process
(White House, not DOE) and Solyndra came up, every one of them responded
simultaneously about their thorough knowledge of the Solyndra story,
suggesting it was one of their prime poster children."
"Ken" is Ken Levit, executive director of the Kaiser Family Foundation, who
wrote the following in an email to Mitchell on Feb. 27, 2010: "They about
had an orgasm in Biden's office when we mentioned Solyndra."
If Chu was keeping the taxpayer in mind, why was the loan restructured so
Solyndra's private investors were moved to the front of the line and
taxpayers were put on the hook for at least the first $75 million if the
company should default? This arrangement, subordinating taxpayers to
private investors, is an "apparent violation of the law," according to
Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce
Chu told the committee that restructuring "improved the chance of recovering
taxpayer money by giving the company a fighting chance at success, with a
completed plant as collateral." The decision also meant continued employment
for the company's approximately 1,100 workers, he said.
Yet when asked how much money taxpayers might get back, Chu said: "Well,
that remains to be seen. I'm anticipating not very much." The 1,100
Solyndra workers Chu said he was trying to keep have lost their jobs
According to Chu, the "Solyndra transaction went through more than two years
of rigorous technical, financial and legal due diligence," a statement that
ignores the warnings from accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers that
Solyndra and its business model were not viable.
Due diligence? Emails showed White House officials repeatedly asking the
Office of Management and Budget on the loan review's progress. One email
from a budget official referred to "the time pressure we are under to sign
off on Solyndra" and referred to "a situation of having to do rushed
approvals." They were under pressure to approve the loan so Vice President
Biden could make the grand photo-op announcement.
"This deal is NOT ready for prime time," one budget analyst wrote in a March
10, 2009, email. Another message — dated Aug. 31, 2009, written by an OMB
staffer and sent to Terrell P. McSweeney, Biden's domestic policy adviser —
concluded, "We would prefer to have sufficient time to do our due diligence
reviews." In fact, they were not done prior to President Obama's visit to
the beleaguered firm.
There was no due diligence done in the awarding of taxpayer dollars to a
firm everybody knew had an unsustainable business model in an industry
largely kept afloat by taxpayer subsidies. Political considerations and
donor cash had everything to do with the loan.