The House of Representatives passed a bill on Friday to limit the Energy Department’s authority to approve loan guarantees for new green energy projects, a legislative response to the failure of Solyndra.
Lawmakers passed the ‘No More Solyndras Act’ at a margin of 245 to 161, with the bill named after the company that went bankrupt two years after it was granted a $535-million loan guarantee by the Department of Energy.
If the bill passes the Senate, the Treasury would be required to review any loan guarantees filed before 2012, and the Department of Energy would not be able to acknowledge applications filed after 2011.
The Energy Department would also have to provide more information to the House of Representatives, and prohibit taxpayer funds to be subordinated when restructuring troubled loans.
The bill has been a key point for Republicans throughout the presidential campaign, but is highly unlikely to be passed by the Democrat-controlled Senate or signed by the President himself.
The California-based PV panel manufacturer Solyndra was the first renewable energy company that benefitted from a federal loan guarantee under Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package, and its financial troubles in the face of Chinese competition made it a target of Republican scrutiny.
“I’m stunned by the cavalier manner in which the administration squandered all of these tax dollars yet says it has no regrets, no apologies, about its handling of the program,” said Rep. Fred Upton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and one of the key drivers of the campaign against the loan guarantee program.
Representative Fred Upton. Photo Credit: Michigan Radio
“Burning money is one source of energy that the country doesn’t need,” he added.
The legislation is a result of an 18-month investigation into the Solyndra loan controversy by Rep. Upton’s committee, which found that the Energy Department rushed into the deal, and helped keep the company afloat despite a number of warning signs.
Democrats slammed the legislation, saying that Solyndra has been used as a political tool against the Obama administration and his presidential campaign.
Democrats also pointed out that the bill favors Republican projects, specifically pending applications for the nuclear industry worth more than $76 billion, and the coal industry at almost $12 billion, while ignoring projects that could save nearly 300 million gallons of gasoline a year in the world’s largest wind farms in Oregon, a large solar project in California, and a major PV power plant in Arizona.