Investigation of Energy Department Loans Lacks Teeth

Investigation of Energy Department Loans Lacks Teeth
November 2, 2011

James M. Taylor

James M. Taylor is senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute, and... (read full bio)

In the wake of the Solyndra scandal, President Obama announced last Friday “an independent analysis” into alternative energy loan guarantees by the Energy Department. The promised independent analysis, however, is shaping up to be neither independent nor thorough.

The Obama administration has named Herb Allison as the person in charge. Allison has already served in the Obama administration, overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Asking Allison to investigate a program overseen by fellow Obama administration appointees does not offer much promise of objectivity.

Moreover, the Obama administration has created a very dubious standard regarding what constitutes successful loan results. According to White House Chief of Staff William Daley, “The President is committed to investing in clean energy because he understands that the jobs developing and manufacturing these technologies will either be created here or in other countries.”

Accordingly, creating jobs in the United States is not a requirement for success, so long as U.S taxpayer dollars are creating jobs in some country, somewhere.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, the “independent analysis” has been established under the premise that government propping up companies that cannot attract sufficient private investment is a wise use of taxpayer dollars. Perhaps a more appropriate “independent analysis” would investigate whether these loan programs should exist in the first place. The U.S. debt already amounts to nearly $150,000 per U.S. household. Do we really need to be handing out cash to support companies like Solyndra when U.S. taxpayers are already so burdened with debt? 

Tying this all together, the scope of the “independent analysis” will be a former member of the Obama administration assessing whether other Obama administration officials are properly doling out of taxpayer dollars to create jobs overseas. 

James M. Taylor

James M. Taylor is senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute, and... (read full bio)