AirTalk for September 15, 2011

It’s a tough economy for green technology

Mercer 21114

Paul Chinn-Pool/Getty Images

CEO Ben Bierman (L) and Executive VP of Engineering Chris Gronet (R) lead U.S. President Barack Obama on a tour of the Solyndra solar panel company May 26, 2010 in Fremont, California.

Solyndra, a solar panel manufacturer based in Fremont, CA, declared operations would cease on August 31st and filed for bankruptcy last week. In a time when many businesses are forced to throw in the towel, this is hardly news. However, this particular company received a $535-million loan guarantee in 2009 approved by the Obama administration, arranged by the Energy Department and processed by the Federal Financing Bank, which is under purview of the Treasury Department. The company’s failure has now led to Congressional hearings by a House Energy subcommittee of government officials, as well as investigative probes by the FBI and the inspector generals of both the Energy and Treasury Departments. House Republicans are accusing the Obama administration of rushing the loan approval, ignoring economic red flags of the company’s poor performance and putting half a billion dollars in taxpayer money at risk. The White House has responded by saying the loan was already in the process of being granted when Obama took office, and it was simply a push to stimulate the economy and create more jobs. What does Solyndra’s bankruptcy mean for the future of green technology? Did the Obama administration act too hastily in supporting the innovative company? Were Solyndra employees misleading government officials with financial reports? What will the Congressional hearings and investigative probes uncover?

Guests:

Matt DeBord, KPCC business blogger, “DeBord Report”

Myron Ebell, Director of the Center on Energy and Environment, Competitive Enterprise Institute

Dan Weiss, Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy, Center for American Progress


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