Guy W. Farmer: Green energy and Solyndra

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All of us know by now that it's politically correct to "go green," which means that we should stop using toilet paper and buy overpriced, underpowered electric cars. I won't be going green right away, however, because I want the Obama administration to answer a few questions before I start recycling my toilet paper.

Congressional Republicans issued subpoenas to White House staffers this month in an effort to determine why the Energy Department flushed $535 million in taxpayer dollars down the federal toilet when a California green energy company called Solyndra went bankrupt. I wonder whether the government will be reimbursing us for wasting our hard-earned dollars on risky investments. Or is it OK to waste our tax money on companies that contribute to Obama's re-election campaign?

As Steven Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute wrote in the conservative Weekly Standard, "The spectacular collapse of Solyndra has all the trappings of an epic Washington scandal, with serial revelations of embarrassing and potentially improper White House machinations to secure a $535 million federal loan guarantee for a startup company with dubious prospects of success." Well, this is what the feds are doing with our tax dollars as we teeter on the brink of a double-dip recession. Go figure!

Hayward wrote that "even if the administration eventually escapes any findings of legal wrongdoing, Solyndra threatens to haunt the green energy campaign in much the same way that ... Lincoln Savings became the emblem of the savings and loan industry's recklessness in the 1980s. ... Solyndra is merely the most spectacular of several recent green energy failures." So much for the Obama administration's overhyped green energy campaign.

The Energy Department approved the Solyndra loan in early 2009 even though the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers had warned that the company's shaky finances "raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern." The company declared bankruptcy in September, leaving taxpayers on the hook for half a billion dollars.

Oh, by the way, a couple of Solyndra's major investors raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama's 2008 presidential election campaign, and one of them was appointed to a cushy job at the Energy Department. Wasn't Obama the candidate who was going to change the political culture in Washington by avoiding entangling alliances with campaign contributors and lobbyists?

My friend and fellow columnist Ty Cobb recently advised us to "stop drinking the clean-energy Kool Aid," writing that "proponents of 'green energy' continue to hype the potential of solar, wind, biomass and other renewable resources ... (although) solar and wind cost about five times per kilowatt-hour of electricity," as does natural gas. Cobb concluded that "we must take advantage of the coming surge in (U.S.) shale gas and oil production. To not embrace this revolution would be economic suicide."

Energy expert Daniel Yergin concurred when he wrote that the Western Hemisphere can become energy independent by exploiting existing resources, including Canada's "oil sands" and Brazil's offshore oil. Drill baby, drill.

• Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, still drives a gas-powered vehicle. Gasp!


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