Even before the Department of Energy dished out more than a half-billion dollars in loan guarantees to Solyndra LLC, a California-based manufacturer of rooftop solar-energy systems, President Obama declared green jobs were white hot. Not only are they going to vanquish the recession, create a new economy and save the planet, they would lower energy costs by speeding the world’s transition from time-tested fossil fuels to wholly unreliable solar and wind power.
At a media-op at Solyndra’s plant in 2010, Mr. Obama congratulated the company for “leading the way toward a brighter and more prosperous future.” Solyndra is “a testament to American ingenuity and dynamism and the fact that we continue to have the best universities in the world, the best technology in the world, and most importantly the best workers in the world.” Unspoken was the president’s main motivation: George Kaiser, one of the company’s largest investors, raised between $50,000 and $100,000 for Mr. Obama’s 2008 campaign.
Government auditors later concluded the loan program was corrupt, but not because it threw good money after bad; rather, it “treated applicants inconsistently, favoring some and disadvantaging others.” Government picking winners and losers. Imagine that. A House subcommittee has launched its own investigation, which the White House is stonewalling.
On Wednesday, Solyndra suspended operations and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to try to escape its crushing debt, including $1.1 billion it duped from private investors who thought the government would protect their money. More than 1,100 people who held prized, economy- and planet-saving green jobs at Solyndra were laid off without severance pay.
For its part, the DoE brushed off taxpayers’ half-billion loss as unfortunate but vowed to continue “investing in game-changing technologies that are key to America’s leadership in the global economy.” Needless to say, the champions of those technologies can grease the skids of government largess simply by lubricating the president.
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