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Washington Examiner: Administration no help with 'clean energy' investigation

Oklahoman Published: June 6, 2012

PRESIDENT Obama, confronted yet again by House and Senate investigators probing the cronyism in his green energy programs, did what he often does. He simply ignored Congress.

“Last November, a request was made of the Department of the Interior for information and answers about its role in the Department of Energy's green energy loan guarantee program, as well as favorable loans and federal land-use deals provided to certain corporations,” wrote Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., in a letter to Obama's Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last week. “It is suggestive and troubling that more than half a year has passed without DOI providing the requested documents and information.”

The lawmakers fear that several politically connected green energy companies received special treatment from the Interior and Energy departments due to their relationship with Obama. They focused their inquiry on six companies in particular: Abengoa Solar, BrightSource Energy, First Solar, Nevada Geothermal Power, NextEra Energy Resources and SolarReserve.

Issa and Sessions suspect that Salazar initiated a “fast-tracking” process that allowed some companies to receive regulatory and environmental approval and permission to use government lands for clean energy projects without adequate vetting. Whereas the review process for establishing an oil or gas lease on federal land can take more than a decade, some of these favored projects were pushed through in less than a year.

The lawmakers asked Salazar months ago about SolarReserve — which received a $737 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy last year. SolarReserve is connected to the same Obama campaign bundler, George Kaiser, who invested heavily in Solyndra.

First Solar — a company that is also using government subsidies to buy products from itself over international borders, as The Washington Examiner's Tim Carney reported — might soon follow Solyndra into bankruptcy. So might Nevada Geothermal, despite a $98.5 million federal loan guarantee.

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