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RELEASE: Dozens of Republicans Requested Clean Energy Grants and Subsidized Loans Before Attacking Clean Energy Investments

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Contact: Christina DiPasquale
Phone: 202.481.8181
Email: cdipasquale@americanprogressaction.org

To read the full report, click here.

Washington, D.C. — Amidst the recent Solyndra controversy, many members of Congress have seized the opportunity to go on a witch hunt against other clean energy programs authorized by the Department of Energy, from voting to defund the loan guarantee program and projects that would help employ veterans, and voting to slash funds for the clean car program that has created tens of thousands of jobs, to denouncing all clean energy grants as fraudulent, and labeling all green jobs as “so-called phony jobs.” Today ThinkProgress released a special report, “Clean Energy Con: Dozens of Republicans Requested Clean Energy Grants and Subsidized Loans Before Attacking Clean Energy Investments,” showing that 62 Republicans from the House and Senate were once proponents of clean energy investments, and sent letters asking for various clean energy-related loan guarantees, grants, and other assistance for their districts.

Despite GOP attempts at defunding the loan guarantee program in Congress and telling the public that green jobs are a myth, ThinkProgress found that these same legislators petitioned Energy Secretary Steven Chu for project support in their districts, many who specifically mentioned the need to generate green jobs. Some of these examples from the House of Representatives include:

  • Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) sent a letter to Secretary Chu “strongly” recommending a DOE clean energy grant for Stellarwind Bio Energy LLC. The letter, sent July 24, 2009, says the company deserves the taxpayer-funded grant because Stellarwind’s proposed algae fuel scheme “directly addresses all of the significant challenges faced by the U.S., namely domestic energy security, greenhouse gas emissions, scientific leadership in a variety of industries, and broad-based green job creation.” Pence joined his colleagues in a protest vote against DOE clean energy grant programs. View a copy of Pence’s green jobs-related grant request here.
  • Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) sent a letter to the DOE expressing support for Fish Energy LLC’s application for wind energy funding. Upton hailed the company’s proposals for wind turbine development and said it will be a leader in “newly-created green job opportunities.” Upton joined his colleagues in a protest vote against DOE clean energy grant programs. View a copy of Upton’s clean energy request here.
  • Members of Congress from Southern California, including Reps. Mary Bono Mack (R), Ken Calvert (R), Duncan Hunter (R), David Dreier (R), Brian Bilbray (R), Jerry Lewis (R), and Darrell Issa (R-CA), wrote to Secretary Chu to express “strong support” for the Consortium of Algal Biofuels Commercialization’s proposal to build an energy research center in San Diego. The lawmakers claimed such research can help create “new sources of meaningful green collar jobs.” View a copy of the letter here.
  • Reps. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) and Jack Kingston (R-GA), along with other Georgia lawmakers, wrote a letter to Secretary Chu seeking taxpayer grants to Bell BioEnergy, a company that produces renewable fuels using nonfood biomass. The letter hailed the company for creating “new, green jobs” that will “help transition our economy toward clean, renewable energy.” Kingston joined his colleagues in a protest vote against DOE clean energy grant programs. View a copy of Westmoreland and Kingston’s letter requesting clean energy grants here.
  • Reps. Todd Young (R), Larry Bucshon (R), Marlin Stutzman (R), Todd Rokita (R), Dan Burton (R), Mike Pence (R), and Sen. Dick Lugar (R) signed a letter along with other Indiana lawmakers to Secretary Chu requesting expedited action on a clean energy loan to Carbon Motors Corporation. The grant, the lawmakers claimed, would bring 1,500 jobs to Indiana while achieving “a positive impact on the environment.” All five lawmakers voted ‘aye’ in a protest vote against DOE clean energy grant programs. View a copy of the Indiana letter supporting Carbon Motor’s Department of Energy grant request here.

Examples from the Senate include:

  • Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), when he served in the House of Representatives, sent a letter to Secretary Chu expressing support for a clean energy grant application made by Exide Technologies, an advanced battery manufacturer. Moran noted the grant will support 320 manufacturing jobs, more than 1,000 indirect jobs, and will “improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.” View a copy of Moran’s clean energy grant request letter here.
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wrote two letters to Secretary Chu asking for clean energy loans for a plant that would build electric cars. The letter, sent in June 2009, claimed the company could create 4,000 jobs. The Associated Press and Climate Progress have reported on the letters here.
  • Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) wrote a letter to Secretary Chu to express his support for a clean technology program called the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology. Johanns hailed the program as an opportunity to develop “new jobs in the green energy industry.” View a copy of Johanns’s letter asking for a Department of Energy grant here.
  • Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) sent a letter to Secretary Chu in support of a clean energy grant application made by the Shaw Industries Group. Chambliss said the grant would create jobs and reduce the use of fossil fuels. View a copy of Chambliss’ renewable energy grant request here.

In a time of rampant unemployment, it is time for these legislators to be honest with their constituents and American families across the nation about the real jobs that these Department of Energy programs create. By advocating for them in their districts but misrepresenting them to the broader American public, to the point where they try to end the very programs they need to help working families in their state, the House and Senate GOP risks putting Americans back to work for the sake of mounting cheap political attacks.

To read the full report, click here.

To speak with ThinkProgress experts on this report, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.481.8181 or cdipasquale@americanprogressaction.org.

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