WASHINGTON -- Jonathan Silver, the head of the Department of Energy's loan guarantee program at the heart of the Solyndra controversy, is stepping down from his position, department officials announced on Thursday. He will join Third Way as a distinguished visiting fellow.
Silver assumed his post in November 2009, about two months after Solyndra's $535 million loan guarantee was finalized by the DOE. In September he became a central target for House Republicans, many of whom seek to place blame for the approval of the loan guarantee squarely on the shoulders of the White House, attacking the president's clean energy policies.
The Department of Energy said Friday that Silver announced his intent to depart in July "after the fiscal year 2011 budget was completed by Congress and it became clear that no significant new funds were included for the loan program."
In a Thursday statement, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced Silver's departure:
In early July, shortly after the fiscal year 2011 budget was completed by Congress and it became clear that no significant new funds were included for the loan program, Jonathan Silver informed me that he intended to return to the private sector shortly after September 30, the statutory end-date of the 1705 loan guarantee program. Since he joined the Department in November 2009, Jonathan assembled and managed a truly outstanding team that has transformed the program into the world leader in financing innovative clean energy projects. Under his leadership, the loan program has demonstrated considerable success, with a broad portfolio of investments that will help American companies compete in the global clean energy market. Because of my absolute confidence in Jonathan and the outstanding work he has done, I would welcome his continued service at the Department, but I completely understand the decision he has made. I want to thank him for his tremendous service to our country and for the work he and his outstanding team have done to renew American leadership in clean energy innovation.
Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Stearns, who chairs the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, responded to the news of Silver's departure by saying his departure wouldn't slow their investigation. They wrote in a statement Thursday.
Mr. Silver's resignation does not solve the problem. We are in the midst of the Solyndra investigation and just days removed from Mr. Silver's mad rush to finalize the last $4.7 billion in loans before the statutory deadline. Just this past Monday, the President declared the loan guarantee program sound and said that it was to be expected that one company like Solyndra could fail. But today the President changed his tune, stating, "The nature of these programs are going to be ones in which, you know, for every success there may be one that does not work out as well." Does the Obama Administration now expect that half of these companies will fail? American taxpayers are already on the hook for the half billion dollar Solyndra bust -- what other shoes does this Administration expect to drop?