Bill to revamp Energy Department loan program could penalize employees.
The Republican-controlled House passed a bill to tighten oversight of a major Energy Department loan guarantee program in the wake of the politically controversial 2011 bankruptcy of the California-based solar energy panel maker Solyndra that cost taxpayers more than $500 million.
The bill introduced by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., would reorganize the program to restrict eligibility for future guarantees to projects that submitted applications before Dec. 31, 2011. It would require the Treasury secretary to review those guarantees and oblige Energy to consult with the Treasury Department on any changes in the terms and conditions of a loan guarantee. The bill also would impose administrative sanctions and civil penalties of $10,000 to $50,000 on federal officials who violate the requirements of the program.
On Friday, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said the program was “rife with mismanagement” and that people involved violated law. “Department officials illegally altered the terms of Solyndra’s loan agreement to advantage individuals who were invested in the company and political supporters of the president,” he said. “Passing the No More Solyndras Act holds the administration and DOE officials accountable and provides greater transparency to prevent future failures like Solyndra.”
The House vote on Thursday was 245-161.