Skip to content

Green Light

Yesterday, I posted a video from the Daily Show talking about the Solyndra “scandal”, but it is not at all clear that it is really a scandal at all as most of the scandalous aspects of the situation are actually lies.

For example, conservative media repeatedly claims that “a major Solyndra investor is also a big Obama donor” in order to make it look like corruption, but this is simply not true. The donor in question released a statement saying “George Kaiser is not an investor in Solyndra and did not participate in any discussions with the U.S. government regarding the loan.”

Indeed, this loan actually originated under the Bush administration, so the idea that it was done to help an Obama campaign donor is silly.

Conservative media is also claiming that investment in green energy is a bad idea, but they ignore the fact that the main reason Solyndra went bankrupt was because its US-based manufacturing plant could not compete against solar panels manufactured in countries that are heavily subsidizing their green energy companies. In the last year, China alone gave $30 billion to six solar companies. Are conservatives saying that the US cannot compete anymore and we should just throw in the towel and give this new market to China?

I can’t think of a single market that is more important to our national security than energy. High energy prices have had a devastating impact on our economy, and our dependence on fossil fuels pollutes our environment and has ignited wars that cost of trillions of dollars. Replacing this with green energy is absolutely critical to our future.

The conservatives say that funding green energy should be left to private investors, but in the past our country did not blink at investing trillions of dollars in building a national highway system that private investors would never have funded. Isn’t ending our dependence on foreign oil at least as important as good roads?

One company going bankrupt does in no way indicate that investment in green energy is a bad idea. After all, our country funds lots of cancer research, and (by definition) some directions of research will not succeed. If our first attempt to cure cancer does not succeed, does that mean that fighting cancer is a bad idea? Of course not.

And finally, the idea that the loan guarantees to Solyndra are a complete loss because the company went bankrupt is ridiculous. Those guarantees allowed Solyndra to raise money, and that money was in turn invested in building a green energy manufacturing plant, develop a supply chain, and buy equipment from other companies. All of that money went back into the economy and will help future green energy investment. Solyndra itself will be sold, resulting in technology, research, equipment, and facilities that will be used by other companies.

Investment is inherently risky and that risk involves failure. If we really believe in the future of our country then we can not be afraid of risk, otherwise we doom ourselves to the certain failure of not even trying.

© John Cole



  1. swilldog wrote:

    one key point that the media keeps glossing over, in its never-ending drive to report a story even if they have to twist the facts to *make* it a story, is that Solyndra largely failed because they made a costly gamble that silicon-based solar technology would continue to be expensive. When prices dropped, Solyndra’s technology proved to be too expensive and couldn’t compete, especially with the way that the Chinese government heavily subsidizes their solar industry.

    We don’t have independent media anymore. It’s all PR and an incessant push to drive ad revenue. Nothing more.

    Sunday, September 18, 2011 at 10:56 am | Permalink
  2. Richard wrote:

    Thanks for the clear overview of what happened.

    Still, given the dumbing down of both media and the American audience, the facts may not sway people who are looking for every angle to smear Obama.

    Sunday, September 18, 2011 at 11:27 am | Permalink
  3. Brian Cole wrote:

    Meanwhile, in China, villagers in Zhejiang province gathered in front of the Zhejiang Jinko Solar Co. Ltd. this past Thursday, demanding an explanation for pollution caused by the solar plant.

    Perhaps part of the reason that the Chinese factories can produce solar panels less expensively is that they are shifting some of the costs to nearby residents in the form of increased health costs from pollution.

    Sunday, September 18, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Permalink
  4. David Freeman wrote:

    The real story here is that even “the most trusted name in news” stumbles sometimes. That would be Jon Stewart of course.

    Sunday, September 18, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Permalink
  5. IK: Thanks for the follow-up. At this rate, you’re going to be one of the more reliable reporters out there. 😉

    David Freeman: LOL. 🙂

    Monday, September 19, 2011 at 2:38 am | Permalink
  6. Steve wrote:

    I just love how the right keeps up this “gotcha” cycle. If it turns out that President Bush was caught on video signing the agreement with Solyndra 4 years ago, conservatives would still say that we are “just blaming Bush again.” All the talking heads keep complimenting the President (current) saying how intelligent he is, but that he just doesn’t have the right tools to fix our economy. Rep. Ryan was just on Fox News Sunday w/ Chris Wallace literally fanning the flames of a class warfare, yet also complimented the President on how smart he is. The man cannot win and even though all the facts point to Solyndra just making a bad gamble on materials and the CBO foreseeing a Bankruptcy based upon the company BEFORE the loan, there’s no way to tell they’d squander this new money and continue their bad business practices.

    Monday, September 19, 2011 at 8:29 am | Permalink
  7. Patricia wrote:

    Steve, RE: ” … fanning the flames of a class warfare” I had to buy a chin strap to keep my tongue off the ground when raising taxes became a cry of “class warfare” yet again. I know of no greater class warfare warriors than the current Republican ranters! 🙂

    Monday, September 19, 2011 at 8:34 am | Permalink
  8. starluna wrote:

    David – LOL.

    This is very interesting. So, the reporting about people in the Obama administration saying that the loan was not a good idea – where did that come from? In Stewart’s segment, it is sourced to NBC news (if I remember correctly – but I could be wrong), but no one says exactly who, when or under what circumstances those negative statements about Solyndra’s potential were made. If the CBO said that the loan was bad before the loan was made, what assumptions were used in coming to that conclusion? These are the details that are needed to really understand this.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Permalink