Hall Statement in Support of ‘No More Solyndras Act’

Sep 14, 2012

Washington DC – The House today approved H.R. 6213, the No More Solyndras Act, by a vote of 245 to 161.  Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX) spoke in support of the fiscally responsible measure. A video of Chairman Hall’s remarks can be found HERE. Chairman Hall’s prepared remarks:

“Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of H.R. 6213, the No More Solyndras Act.  This bill makes important changes to better protect taxpayer funds spent under the Department of Energy’s Title 17 loan guarantee authority.  I thank Chairman Upton for his good work in his Committee.

The Science, Space, and Technology Committee has jurisdiction over the commercial application of energy technology, and one purpose of the Title 17 Loan Guarantee Program is to move energy technologies from research and development to commercial application.  As part of our oversight responsibility for this program we examined it on numerous occasions, including earlier this year as part of a hearing in which we received testimony from Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

Through these and related efforts we have found that, time and again, the Department of Energy has proven itself to be a very poor venture capitalist, with a terrible track record when picking winners and losers among competing companies and technologies.

The poster child for this poor judgment is Solyndra, which President Obama famously touted as a “true engine of economic growth” for the United States.  Most Americans are familiar with Solyndra’s story, in which the Department of Energy gambled half a billion taxpayer dollars to support a failing solar company whose leading investors I’m sorry to say were major fundraisers and supporters of President Obama.

Less well known is that DOE made 25 other gambles under the program’s Section 1705 authority, staking a total of approximately $16 billion of American taxpayer money on what they call green energy companies with risky business models similar to that of Solyndra.  I’m also sorry to say many of these companies also have ties to the current Administration through investors that are major donors, bundlers, and advocates.

If more of these companies fail, the Department of Energy made clear it could restructure loan agreements in the same manner that it handled Solyndra—placing political supporters and private investors at the front of the line, while leaving taxpayers holding the bag.

This legislation would absolutely prevent that from happening again, by requiring that taxpayer dollars are not subordinate to private financing should more bankruptcies result from this program.

Further, the bill seeks to limit taxpayer risk by prohibiting DOE from making new loan guarantee awards for projects from applications submitted after December 31, 2011. 

These are necessary fixes to a troubled program, and I urge Members to support them and the underlying legislation.

I appreciate the Committee on Energy and Commerce working with the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology to further improve the bill in advance of it being brought to the floor.”