Friday, September 14, 2012

House Passes "No More Solyndras Act" 245-161

Sep 14: The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 6213, the "No More Solyndras Act" [See WIMS 8/2/12WIMS 7/13/12] sponsored by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), by a vote of 245-161. Twenty-two Democrats joined 223 Republicans in passing the measure. In comments on the House Floor, Rep. Upton said:

"I care about America's energy future, and I also care about America's fiscal future.  For these two reasons, I urge all of you 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. This includes approving Keystone XL, 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 agenda that has been championed by my Committee and the full House.

"But support for this agenda also requires us to pull the plug on existing programs that are not working. And the Department of Energy's Title 17 loan guarantee program is simply not advancing the ball on our all-of-the-above goals. The No More Solyndras Act phases out this costly, ineffective, and mismanaged program.

"Our extensive investigation of Solyndra has uncovered a story worse than anyone could have ever imagined. It is amazing to me that the administration gave a half-billion dollar loan guarantee to a company its own experts predicted would fail, a company so dysfunctional that it burned through this giant handout and went bankrupt in just two 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 17 failures.  In fact, it is hard to point to a single loan guarantee success story 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 am stunned by the cavalier manner in which the administration squandered all these tax dollars yet says that it has no regrets 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 we are running trillion dollar annual deficits and just saw the national debt eclipse $16 trillion dollars? Burning money is one source of energy that the country doesn't need. That is why this bill prevents any costly repeats of Solyndra by prohibiting any new loan guarantees and subjecting pending ones to very stringent safeguards.   

"What is most disturbing about this unprecedented spending is that it is not necessary to secure a brighter energy future. The private sector is more than willing to step in and provide more energy, if only we would let them. What we need is a Keystone economy, not a Solyndra economy. What we need is privately-funded investment, not taxpayer-funded boondoggles. The goal of North American energy independence is within reach, as well as millions of new jobs that would go with it. But we aren't going to get there through Title 17 DOE loan guarantees. Our investigation uncovered a problem, and now we have a thoughtful bill to fix it. The next step is for the House to pass the No More Solyndras Act."

    Several amendments and a proposal to return the bill to Committee were soundly defeated along party-lines. Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee issued a release saying, "House Republicans today passed a bill to end a loan guarantee program, but not before $88.4 billion in loans are handed out to coal and nuclear interests, while voting to allow the bill to go forward even if taxes are raised on the wind industry by up to $4 billion, threatening 40,000 jobs in the next year alone." Rep. Markey decried the bill as a "sham that protects imperiled nuclear projects while revealing House Republicans' true agenda to undercut innovative wind, solar and other clean energy projects."
    Markey said the bill "purports to end a loan guarantee program for energy projects, but will still allow tens of billions of dollars to be ferreted out to projects like the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC), which has been teetering on the verge of bankruptcy for months, and just received another $100 million in taxpayer money in yesterday's bill to fund the government for the next few months." Rep. Markey offered an amendment that would have prevented the act from staying in effect if a $4 billion tax hike on the wind sector was allowed to occur which was rejected.

    Rep. Markey said, "Republicans say they want no more Solyndras, but what they really want is no more clean energy solutions. They don't want the newest clean energy technologies to compete with coal, nuclear, oil and other fossil fuels. This bill is like saying a concert is sold out, but not before the friends of the band still get the best seats in the house. That's why Republicans are handing out tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to risky nuclear and coal projects, while cutting off funding for innovative wind, solar and other clean energy projects."

    Access the statement and video from Rep. Upton (click here). Access the statement from Rep. Markey (click here). Access the roll call vote on H.R. 6213 (click here). Access the legislative details for H.R.6213 (click here). [#Energy/Renewable]
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