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No More Solyndras Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. UPTON. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I care about America's energy future, and I certainly care about America's fiscal future as well. For those two reasons, I would urge every one of us here to vote ``yes'' on the No More Solyndras Act.

On the energy front, I continue to advocate concrete measures towards achieving North American energy independence. That includes approving the Keystone XL pipeline, it includes increasing conventional and renewable energy production from Federal lands, and eliminating unnecessary EPA red tape on coal and other fossil fuels. These and other pro-energy measures are part of the all-of-the-above energy agenda that has been championed by the Energy and Commerce Committee here in the House.

But support for this agenda also requires us to pull the plug on existing programs that simply aren't working.

And the Department of Energy's title XVII loan guarantee program is simply not advancing the ball on an all-of-the-above energy goal. The No More Solyndras Act, this bill, phases out this costly, ineffective and, frankly, very mismanaged program.

Our extensive investigation of Solyndra uncovered a story worse than anyone could have imagined. It is amazing to me that the administration gave a half-billion dollar loan guarantee to a company that its own experts predicted would fail, a company so dysfunctional that it burned through this giant handout and went bankrupt in 2 years. Even worse, when it became clear to the administration that Solyndra was in trouble, it chose to double down on the risky bet, gambling even more taxpayer dollars with a desperate loan restructuring instead of trying to cut its losses and move on.

Solyndra is the most visible but far from the only example of title XVII failures. In fact, it is hard to point to a single loan guarantee success under this program. Developing new energy sources and technologies is an important part of our all-of-the-above approach, but it is clear that this loan guarantee program is ineffective at best, and counterproductive at worst.

Further, I'm stunned by the cavalier manner in which the administration squandered all of these taxpayer dollars, yet says it has no regrets, no apologies about its handling of the program and continues to declare it an ``enormous success.'' If the administration can't learn anything about irresponsible spending from Solyndra, is it any wonder that we are running still a trillion-dollar annual deficit and just saw the national debt eclipse the $16 trillion figure. Burning money is one source of energy that the country doesn't need. That's why this bill prevents any costly repeats of Solyndra by prohibiting any new loan guarantees and subjecting pending ones to very stringent safeguards.

What's most disturbing about this unprecedented spending is that it is not necessary to secure a brighter future. The private sector is more than willing to step in and provide the necessary cash and energy if only we would let them. What we need is a Keystone economy, not a Solyndra economy. What we need is a privately funded investment, not taxpayer-funded boondoggles.

The goal of the North American energy independence plan certainly is in reach, as well as millions of new jobs that would certainly go with it, but we aren't going to get there through title XVII Department of Energy loan guarantees--no, we're not.

This investigation uncovered a problem, and now we have a thoughtful bill to fix it so that it cannot happen again. The next step is for the House to pass this bill and hopefully get the Senate to take it up as well. We need to pass the No More Solyndras Act.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. UPTON. Mr. Chairman, before I yield to the Chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee, let me yield myself 1 1/2 minutes just to respond.

While it's true that the program was signed into law by President Bush in '05, I would note that the Bush administration did not issue a single loan guarantee, in large part because it struggled to identify any company whose energy products were both meritorious and yet unable to secure private financing. So, further, Bush's OMB actually reviewed this project, the Solyndra loan guarantee application, but it rejected it in January of 2009 in the waning days because of the concerns over the long-term viability of the project.

Now, this administration would go ahead with over $15 billion in loan guarantees through 2011. Solyndra, Abound Solar, Beacon Power, they've all gone bankrupt. And I'm afraid this is just the tip of the iceberg, which was why we moved ahead with this legislation.

Without our action, without the action of our committee, there was strong belief, in fact, that this administration was going to go ahead yet with hundreds of millions of dollars more for Solyndra. That's not the answer to this thing. That's not how to save it.

Our role at Energy and Commerce, we had a very aggressive chairman, Cliff Stearns, the chairman of the Oversight Investigation Subcommittee. He led the investigation. He identified the many faults, and now we've come back with corrective legislation to make sure that it doesn't happen again. That's our role.

With that, I yield 5 minutes to gentleman from Florida (Mr. Stearns), the very able chairman of the Oversight Investigation Subcommittee.

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Mr. UPTON. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 30 seconds.

I would just say that although it's true that DOE has $34 billion in loan guarantee authority remaining, DOE is actually capped at $22 billion for nuclear projects, so the argument that this act creates a loophole that would allow up to $100 billion in new nuclear projects is simply not right, and the projects that are in the application pipeline--remember those remain in the pipeline through December of last year--they are not limited to nuclear. In fact, there are only six active nuclear-related applications in that queue. The other 40-plus include solar, biomass, wind, a whole number of things.

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