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EDITORIAL: The Solyndra standard

Obama doubles-down on green firms that go belly-up

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Power means never having to say you're sorry. Despite contrary evidence, the Obama administration is sticking to its story that the decision to loan $535 million to solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra was the right thing to do. To err is human, but when error squanders hard-earned taxpayer money and is compounded by insolent denial, it's a signal that similar mistakes are inevitable.

On Aug. 2, the House Energy and Commerce Committee released the results of its investigation into the Solyndra debacle, detailing White House backing for the project despite clear evidence that the company was doomed to fail. "Reviews of the Solyndra application were rushed and the quality of those reviews was negatively affected by political considerations -- namely, the administration's desire to make public announcements of these events," the 147-page report charged.

In its eagerness to push its "green" agenda, the White House scheduled an announcement of the Solyndra loan -- featuring remarks by Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. -- before a required Office of Management and Budget review of the deal even began, according to the report. It contends the Energy Department broke the law when it restructured the loan to give private investors -- a prominent fundraiser for President Obama among them -- priority over taxpayers in recouping loss in the event of bankruptcy. The report also reveals the White House led last-minute negotiations to save the company with a second restructuring to stave off its collapse in August 2011.

The Obama team isn't admitting its mistakes. The congressional report "affirms what we said on Day One. This was a merit-based decision made by the Department of Energy," responded Obama spokesman Eric Schultz. The pattern of explaining away failure in the headlong funding of unaffordable renewable energy projects was established by the president himself. "The payoffs on these public investments don't always come right away. Some technologies don't pan out; some companies will fail," Mr. Obama said during a fundraising speech earlier this year while vowing to "double-down" on green expenditures.

And double-down he has -- at great taxpayer expense. Joining Solyndra on the list of federal failures is Abound Solar, which declared bankruptcy after receiving $400 million, Beacon Power, which snagged $43 million before going belly-up, and Energ1, which scored $118.5 million before shutting its doors, among others.

In the haste to accelerate a nationwide energy conversion from fossil fuels to energy sources approved by its liberal base, the Obama administration has poured billions into similarly unsustainable projects. In 2010 alone, the administration launched almost 700 "green" initiatives among 23 federal agencies. Despite the federal favoritism, all forms of renewable energy will generate only 16 percent of the nation's total electricity by 2035, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Visions of a sudden metamorphosis from fossil fuels to renewables are nothing more than pipe dreams. Wasting money on futile attempts to will the dream into reality is symptomatic of Mr. Obama's failed leadership.

The Washington Times

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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