Today, President Obama traveled to Menomonee Falls to tout the "success' of the "clean energy' portion of his trillion-dollar "stimulus' but new reports -- highlighted by The Hill newspaper - show little to cheer about. In fact, most of the "green energy' money hasn't even gone out the door. According to the Department of Energy's own internal watchdog, " only 8.4 percent of the total had been used by grant recipients after more than a year." Furthermore, according to one of those reports, "Spending delays were "prevalent and widespread throughout the Program,' particularly by those receiving the largest grants of more than $2 million each."
A report in last weekend's Washington Post has more:
"Take, for instance, three programs meant to improve energy efficiency and produce "green jobs.' The $5 billion program for weatherizing low-income homes is recovering from a slow start as officials wrestled with rules on wages and historic preservation, and as providers struggled to expand capacity.
"Only 3,000 homes were weatherized last summer, a sliver of the program's goal of 600,000 by March 2012. The pace has picked up, with 25,000 now being weatherized monthly. Still, barely a quarter of the funds were spent by the end of last month. Moving more slowly are two other energy-efficiency initiatives, one for states and one for cities and counties. Of their combined $6.3 billion, $556 million had been spent by the end of July."
In response, the White House has tried to speed the spending, with limited results:
The IG still concluded that rapid spending of the funds "was hampered by numerous administrative and regulatory challenges associated with implementing a new program' at the federal, state and local levels.
An Aug. 4 IG report indicated "a number of issues' needing to be addressed before the remaining $3.4 billion of $32.7 billion in contracts and grants for science, energy and environmental programs can be doled out.
As of July 9, the department had obligated 90 percent of that $32.7 billion. But less than half intended for a couple of major projects had been spent and none of the programs covered under the stimulus plan had all funding obligated."
In one case, the rush to spend taxpayer funds caused a backlash that stopped the project entirely. "The day after the IG delivered its report to senior DOE officials, the department announced that $1 billion in stimulus money was being awarded to the revised version of the long-planned and troubled "FutureGen" project, a prototype coal-fired power plant that would trap and store almost all of its carbon dioxide emissions. But Mattoon, Ill., the town that was to house the FutureGen project, subsequently rejected the project revisions after seeing its role change and shrink."
When the "stimulus' passed, the White House promised it would create jobs "immediately' and keep the unemployment rate below eight percent. Instead, more than two-and-a-half million more Americans have lost their jobs, and unemployment is near double digits. There is a better way. House Republicans have offered a plan to save $266 billion by cancelling the unspent "stimulus' funds, and using that money to reduce the federal government's staggering deficit.