* Would phase out energy loans, add new rules
* 'Messaging' bill unlikely to be considered by Senate
By Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON, Sept 14 The Republican-controlled
U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Friday that would
phase out a program for energy loans after a lengthy
investigation into why a now-bankrupt California solar panel
maker got a $535 million government loan.
The "No More Solyndras" bill, named after the company that
has become a stock campaign talking point for Republicans ahead
of the Nov. 6 presidential elections, is highly unlikely to be
taken up by the U.S. Senate or signed by President Barack Obama.
But the 245-161 vote gives Republicans another chance to
hammer home a message about Obama's energy policies and the
administration's management of the economy ahead of the
"What we need is a Keystone economy, not a Solyndra
economy," said Fred Upton, the Republican chairman of the House
Energy and Commerce committee, referring to the Keystone XL
crude oil pipeline from Canada, which Obama put on hold pending
further environmental review.
The legislation comes after an 18-month investigation into
the Solyndra loan by Upton's committee. It concluded that the
Energy Department rushed into the deal, then helped keep the
company going despite a series of red flags.
The FBI has been investigating Solyndra for the past year in
tandem with the Energy Department's Inspector General, an
In total, the Energy Department has approved $34.7 billion
in loans to 33 projects. Aside from Solyndra, two other
companies with loans have gone bankrupt.
Democrats slammed the legislation, saying it ignores
successes in the loan portfolio.
"This is not serious legislation, it's a political bill,"
said Henry Waxman, the top Democrat on the House Energy panel.
"They've been dancing on the grave of Solyndra for so long.
Enough is enough," said Waxman, who blamed Chinese subsidies for
the failure of Solyndra.
Upton said there are six applications in the Energy
Department's pipeline for nuclear plants and more than 40
applications for other types of clean energy projects.
The Energy Department has an additional $34 billion that it
could spend on clean energy loan guarantees.
The legislation would ban the Energy Department from
considering applications received after Dec. 31, 2011.
The Energy Department would need to have approval from the
Treasury Department for any new loans, provide more information
to Congress, and prohibit the Department from subordinating
taxpayer funds when restructuring troubled loans.