Republicans Decrying 'Job Killing' Green Energy Agenda Have Sought Green Jobs For Their Own Districts
WASHINGTON -- The GOP-led House Oversight Committee may be accusing the White House of a "job killing" green energy agenda in a hearing Thursday -- but at least ten Republicans on the panel have signed letters seeking to land green energy jobs in their districts.
In dozens of letters obtained by The Huffington Post, the lawmakers, led by Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), argue convincingly about Department of Energy funding going to their favored projects, often touting the job-creating potential of numerous endeavors.
The issue erupted earlier this month when reports broke that the bankrupt solar manufacturer Solyndra, which got $535 million in loan guarantees from the stimulus bill, was raided by the FBI.
Although the guaranteed loan project began under the Bush administration, many Republicans were quick to hammer the deal as evidence of "cronyism" -- and proof that Obama's key green jobs effort was a huge bust.
As it turns out, many of the committee members set to grill Obama administration officials Thursday were plenty eager to help constituents cash in on the efforts.
Fred Hill, a spokesman for Issa, said the fact that lawmakers sought approval of their own projects misses the point.
"The Obama administration appears confused about the nature of the controversy," he said in a statement.
"The issue isn’t that members of Congress from both parties have signed letters supporting some green projects, it’s that roughly $90 billion set aside for efforts handpicked by the administration haven’t had a meaningful impact on lowering unemployment and that some companies -- like Solyndra -- appear to have received special treatment," he said, referring to the overall amount the president's Council of Economic Advisers put toward the green push.
But other harsh critics seeking funding are Reps. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Raul Labrador (R-Idaho).
Burton, the second-ranking Republican on the committee, slammed the Obama effort on Fox News, saying the Solyndra mess looks just like part of a Democratic pattern, and arguing that "it smacks of real corruption."
But he signed seven letters seeking green projects -- often with the rest of the Indiana delegation -- including for Abound Solar, which, like Solyndra, is aiming to manufacture solar panels.
"Abound Solar plans to create almost a thousand full-time jobs that the company and state officials estimate will generate several hundred million dollars in revenue," Burton and other Hoosier-state lawmakers wrote, employing similar language as the White House to justifiy such projects.
Abound secured a $400 million guaranteed loan from the same program as Solyndra.
Chaffetz took to Fox News to complain the whole program could be corrupt. He went to bat advocating for geothermal research and the Intermountain West Geothermal Consortium, arguing along with others that, "if we truly want to meet the president's challenge to bring more renewable energy online, to stimulate industry and create jobs, and bolster our education and research intrastructure, then this is the type of group that can do so and do so quickly."
Labrador sought a resolution back in May ending all such energy subsidies, grants and loans. But just two weeks later, he signed a letter with three other Republicans asking the Department of Energy's loan program to speed up a loan approved for the Idaho-based U.S. Geothermal.
Other members of the committee who sought green energy projects include, Reps. Connie Mack (R-Fla.), Tret Gowdy (R-S.C.), Patrick McHenry (R-S.C.), Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), John Mica (R-Fla.) and Todd Platts (R-Pa.).
Update: 10:30 p.m.
Democrats on the committee were unable to comment immediately Wednesday night, but a committee staffer found the revelations stunning.
“The Republicans actually don’t seem to understand their hypocrisy," the committee aide said. "They trash the entire clean energy program after writing glowing letters to commend it. The truth is the program works, which is why they want the money for their districts.”
Correction: Because of a transcript error, an earlier version of this story attributed a quote to Rep. Dan Burton that was actually said by someone else in a television discussion. Mr. Burton's quote has been corrected.