Chairman Issa said one report documents that "DOE disregarded its own taxpayer protections, ignored lending standards and eligibility requirements, and as a result, amassed an excessively risky loan portfolio -- some $14.5 billion in total loan guarantees were authorized. Oversight investigators also identified instances when DOE faced barriers to completing a loan and simply sought to justify and overcome those regulatory barriers rather than giving the barriers due consideration. In one glaring example, the report shows how DOE appears to have manipulated analysis and strategically modified evaluations in order to issue loans to First Solar that would make the project qualify under the statutory and regulatory guidelines."
A related Republican Committee report also documents "shortcomings" from a $5 billion federal weatherization improvement program funded through the Department of Energy. According to the report, the program "[R]epresents the kind of failure that materializes when you have an economic stimulus strategy contingent upon asking the federal bureaucracy to absorb billions of dollars when the structural infrastructure to administer, disseminate and manage that influx of new money is not put in place." The release indicates that, "The report documents faulty construction and retrofitting that left consumers with faulty home electrical, ventilation, insulation and other systems. It also includes a series of photographs showing shoddy workmanship in several states."
Chairman Issa added, "These reports document a Department of Energy seemingly unprepared to deal with the exponential increase in taxpayer funds it received under the stimulus, leading to serious questions of waste and abuse. Taxpayers are right to expect better from the Department of Energy and the Obama Administration and to seek protections that this type of approach can be avoided in the future."
In an opening statement at a hearing today to investigate DOE loan and funding programs with Secretary Steven Chu, Chairman Issa said, "Today the price of gasoline is approaching $4.00 per gallon, twice its level in 2009. American consumers understandably ask what the Department of Energy and the Obama Administration have done to address this. But during the Obama Administration, you might say the DOE has been DOA when it comes to delivering affordable energy to consumers.
"A report released today by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform paints a startling picture of mismanagement at the Department of Energy. From the very inception of the Obama Administration's $14.5 billion loan program, warning signs pointed to a likely loss of taxpayer dollars -- these signs were largely ignored by Administration officials seemingly more interested in picking political winners and losers than addressing American consumers' need for abundant and affordable energy. There appears to be a significant amount of evidence indicating that DOE manipulated analyses and strategically modified evaluations in order to get loans out the door. . . By addressing the issues raised at today's hearing, we can help put our country back on the path to achieve these two goals and deliver real benefit to the American people."
Rep. Cummings said, "As a result of our Committee's extremely broad jurisdiction, we have a tremendous opportunity to perform constructive oversight of the Department of Energy and the energy industry to promote the bipartisan goal of energy independence for our nation. Although I fully support aggressive oversight to ensure that government programs work effectively and efficiently, I believe the Committee should refrain from making accusations without evidence to support them and should correct the record when claims turn out to be inaccurate. Only in this way will we be able to uphold the integrity of the Committee and protect the reputations of officials who have dedicated their careers to serving this nation."
Access the Republican Committee release (click here). Access a release and letter from Rep. Cummings (click here). Access links to the reports and Secretary Chu's testimony (click here). [#Energy/Efficiency, #Energy/Renewable]
32 Years of Environmental Reporting for serious Environmental Professionals