Republicans seized on the failure of Solyndra to indict green industries in general and the Obama administration’s loan program to encourage development of clean energy in particular. For instance, Republicans often claim the loans to Solyndra were based on crony capitalism and were made solely to reward a Democratic contributor even though they knew, or should have known, the business was a loser.
Well, it seems Republicans picked their losers too, notably including one of President Obama’s leading critics, Fred Upton.
In a Dec. 2009 letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Upton and the rest of the Michigan delegation pressed the department to issue loan guarantees for a slew of energy projects. Included on the list was United Solar Ovonic, which was seeking a taxpayer-backed loan guarantee to produce rooftop solar panels.
United Solar Ovonic filed for bankruptcy this week.
Despite this I believe investing in the long term development of clean energy is still a good use of tax dollars. It’s likely the GOP’s insistent shortchanging of funding for these programs under their ill-advised and politically driven mania for austerity cuts contributed to the failures by allowing other countries like China, which invested heavily in their own green projects, to get ahead of the US on developing alternative products at a better price.
The point being, if we want to restore the American manufacturing base, it requires serious and sustained investments in technology without regard for which political party might end up getting the credit for success.