Darrell Issa is a happy man. After flailing around for a while, he finally thinks he has a product to push, an example of Obama corruption, with the Solyndra story. There’s even another piece of it that has popped up in the form of LightSquared, a wireless startup which, according to allegations, was the subject of unfavorable testimony to Congress by Air Force Gen. William Shelton until the White House intimidated him into changing his view. Issa is ready to widen his investigation. Loan guarantee programs for clean energy have actually migrated to the subject of a potential government shutdown, with Republicans trying to cancel a program for hybrid vehicles to pay for disaster relief.
Republicans definitely think they have a winning hand by criticizing corruption in the clean energy realm. It’s a tailor-made Glenn Beck conspiracist rant where the corruption lines up with a philosophical view against climate change and a lucrative view in support of wealthy oil and gas company contributors over the clean energy industry. The government, you see, cannot “pick winners and losers” in the energy space. Can’t do it.
Unless those winners happen to be in Republican districts and states.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, supports loan guarantees as a step to build 100 new nuclear reactors [...]
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell … pressed Energy Secretary Steven Chu to save a uranium enrichment facility in western Kentucky run by USEC Inc. that does contract work for the federal government. USEC is looking to expand its business with the agency through a $2 billion loan guarantee for a new facility in Piketon, Ohio, but its application stalled before the DOE [...]
Mr. McConnell made two personal appeals in 2009, asking Energy Secretary Steven Chu to approve as much as $235 million in federal loans for a plant to build electric vehicles in Franklin, Ky.
“I hope you will realize the importance of such job creation to Kentucky,” Mr. McConnell said in a July 2009 memo supporting an application from Zap Motor Manufacturing.
Federal lobbying disclosure records show that Mr. McConnell’s support for the project came after Zap Motor hired a Kentucky-based lobbyist, Robert Babbage, who has been a frequent contributor to Mr. McConnell’s campaigns and boasts on his own Internet site about his close ties to Mr. McConnell.
And there’s plenty more where that came from, across the GOP. As it turns out, the entire energy sector is riddled with subsidies. Republicans have no opposition to these subsidies of any kind, as long as they benefit their districts or their donors. They may favor nuclear loan guarantees to electric car guarantees, but if it adds jobs in Kentucky, I think Mitch McConnell would drive a Tesla around Capitol Hill.
It so happens that more of the subsidies for oil and gas are prevalent today in these areas, so they are favored above the nascent renewable space. Removing all energy subsidies entirely may actually lead to a better future on net for greentech and renewables, considering how entrenched the fossil fuel industry is. But just one piece of the renewable space, the solar industry, is maturing rapidly, with over 100,000 jobs. Republicans will excoriate clean energy right up until someone tells them it can create thousands of jobs for their constituents.