As Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) chaired a joint hearing today with the Energy and Power Subcommittee on his "No More Solyndras" Act. "This bill is the product of an 18-month investigation by the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations," said Stearns. "We gather to consider a bill that will fix the problems we uncovered during our investigation. The Solyndra investigation, and the introduction of the No More Solyndras Act, is a great example of how Congressional oversight should work: ask tough questions, collect all the facts, identify problems, and offer legislative solutions."
Although three of the first five loan guarantees made by DOE using stimulus funds went to firms that have failed, led by Solyndra and a $535-million loss for taxpayers, the Obama Administration still believes the program is succeeding. In questioning David G. Frantz, the Acting Executive Director of the DOE Loan Program Office, Stearns asked, "Don't you agree that the Loan Guarantee Program has had a tough record?" Replied Frantz, "Quite to the contrary, sir, I think it's been an enormous success."
Dr. David Kreutzer of the Heritage Foundation stated, "The majority of the Section 1705 loans fall into two categories: Either they were not market viable, as demonstrated by subsequent economic performance, or they should have been able to get private financing for truly viable programs." Several witnesses outlined the problems with the Obama Administration trying to select winners and losers in the marketplace, and expressed support for reforming the loan guarantee program or ending it.
Last year, President Obama criticized Stearns for noting that China subsidizes its domestic solar energy to the tune of $30 billion a year and that the United States should not try to out-subsidize China. During the hearing, Stearns asked, "What would you say to the President after he said that he thinks that we can compete with China?" Ms. Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Senior Fellow with the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, responded: "We can compete with China on many, many ways we have far more innovation than China does, we have far more creativity than China does and these are the ways in which we compete with China, not by putting in place expensive forms of energy that drive up energy costs for American households."
"The Administration's green energy scheme continues to fail the American people, putting taxpayer funds on the line," concluded Stearns. "This legislation represents a reasoned effort to curb these risky loan guarantees and to protect the taxpayers. I look forward to refining the language of the "No More Solyndras" Act and bringing it up for the Committee's consideration soon."