October 26, 2012
In the final weeks of campaign a series of failures and scandals involving green energy companies that received large sums of money from the federal government is calling into even greater question President Obama’s second term agenda.
We already know that President Obama hates oil. In 2007, he compared oil to the worst atrocities of the 20th century, saying “the country that faced down the tyranny of fascism and communism is now called to deal with the tyranny of oil.” In 2007 he promised to “end the age of oil.” And in his Iowa caucus victory speech he promised he’d be the president “who harnesses the ingenuity of farmers, scientists, and entrepreneurs to free this nation from the tyranny of oil once and for all.”
When he came into office, one of the President’s first acts was to throw $90 billion at green energy companies as part of the stimulus. The Department of Energy got billions to loan green startups. The Treasury got $9 billion to give away for green projects. And the Department of Labor got $500 million to administer a “green jobs” training program.
All of this “investment”, President Obama told us, would lead to a rebirth of America and a new clean energy economy.
Instead, the President’s top-down, reckless approach to financing exotic technologies wasted tens of billions of taxpayer dollars, enriched political allies, and failed miserably at creating jobs.
Two breaking scandals within the last 24 hours highlight the astonishing failure of the Obama green energy agenda.
Scandal #1: Senior Department of Energy Official Recognizes Loan Recipients Likely To Be Losers
The Washington Examiner reported today that a senior Energy official helping to oversee the Department’s Loan Program made a remarkable confession in an email to colleagues.
The email authored by Jim McCrea, a “senior government executive working on President Obama’s clean energy loan program at the U.S. Department of Energy,” read in part:
“I really cannot fathom how one figures out whether a loan to a PV [photovoltaic (solar)] manufacturer is being made to one that will survive. Everything about the business argues for the failure of many If not most of the suppliers…. All in all in the solar field, I think it is extremely easy to pick losers and l really do not know how to pick winners.”
McCrea was a senior official engaged in credit analysis at the DOE’s Loan Program Office. More than 80 percent of the DOE loan guarantees were for solar. So this is really all you need to know about the President’s flagship stimulus program: even the people charged with running it recognized these companies were very likely to fail. But how could anyone, including the President, have believed any different? As the House Oversight Committee found, 22 out of 26 companies that got DOE loans had “JUNK” ratings at the time of the loan.
Scandal #2: The $500 million “green jobs” training boondoggle
Yesterday, the Department of Labor Inspector General issued a report on the Department’s $500 million green jobs training program — a project financed with stimulus money. The Inspector General found the program had been an abysmal failure, successfully placing just 11,000 people in permanent jobs (16 percent of the goal). The training was superficial — 20 percent of the programs were just one day long, and half were less than five days long. More than half of those trained already had jobs and, according to the IG, “we found no evidence that they needed green job training.”
An earlier report by the Department of Labor IG found that many of the grants for green jobs training went to political allies of the Obama administration — like the $1.5 million to La Raza, which successfully placed zero people in permanent jobs, and the BlueGreen Alliance (the largest labor unions and environmental groups), which got $3 milliion but got employment for only 230 people.
In that assessment, the Department of Labor Inspector General said there was “no evidence” the programs financed would “effectively use the funds and deliver…employment outcomes.” The IG recommended recouping any of the remaining funds that could not “realistically” be used to place workers in green jobs “given the current demand for green job-related skills and the job market for green jobs.”
In other words, the President’s imaginary green jobs haven’t materialized.
What’s amazing about all this news is that green energy is still at the heart of President Obama’s hollow second term agenda. Despite the obvious failure of his plans and the billions of taxpayer dollars wasted, he’s sticking to his guns. That tells us something about the reflection he’s put into his first term failures — not much.