In his commentary airing this week on WAMC Northeast Public Radio, Pace Energy & Climate Center Executive Director Franz Litz takes a closer look at the political kerfuffle surrounding Solyndra, the California solar manufacturer that filed for bankruptcy two years after being awarded a $500 million federal loan guarantee.
Litz reminds listeners that despite current Republican criticism of the Obama Administration for making the loan guarantee, the “Solyndra loan guarantee was made under a program created in 2005 by a Republican President and a Republican Congress, with Democratic support.” It was Bush Administration officials “who pushed through Solyndra’s loan guarantee application and tried to get it approved in January 2009 shortly before Obama’s inauguration.”
The irony in all of this bluster is that congressional Republicans, and some moderate Democratic senators from coal-dependent states, prevented the last Congress from passing genuine comprehensive climate change and energy legislation. That legislation may have eliminated the need for government to pick winners out of many vying for government subsidies.
In the absence of a real bi-partisan comprehensive energy policy, we are left with the approach Bush started and Obama has continued. If we are going to support the burgeoning clean energy industry in the United States, we are going to have to take some risks. The alternative is that we sit back and let China grow its renewable energy industries with hefty subsidies, and create the jobs that come with them. We’ll end up buying our energy infrastructure from China.
Energy Secretary Stephen Chu said it best in his testimony last week before the House Energy and Commerce Committee: “When it comes to the clean energy race, America faces a simple choice: compete or accept defeat.”
Listen to the segment here.