Who would have predicted that Solyndra, the now defunct California-based solar panel company, would create such a political firestorm? Not since Orson Welles muttered “rosebud” has there been such a highly politicized investigation. However, in contrast to Welles clutching onto the crystal ball in Citizen Kane, desperately trying to regain the innocence of his past, Republicans are actively trying to shatter any tangible alternative fuel source progress.
After Solyndra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last September with news surfacing that one of the investors was a key fund-raiser for the president, Republicans wasted no time criticizing the Obama administration’s handling of clean energy loans. As a result more than $16 billion allocated to fuel-efficient vehicle production has yet to be distributed. The current contentious and rocky terrain of politics certainly played a role in the Energy Department’s decision to withdraw these loans. Another reason was pressure not to “rock the boat” as we enter into what promises to be a heated reelection campaign. As a result of their submissive stance, and in typical Democratic fashion, the Obama administration has once again succumbed to Republican pressure. Last fall, Steven Chu told The Daily Caller that, “when it comes to the clean energy race, America faces a simple choice: compete or accept defeat… I believe we can and must compete.” Judging from his willingness to acquiesce to pressure in halting the distribution of clean-energy loans, Mr. Chu must have chosen the latter. Renewable energy deserves the same government subsidies that fossil fuels received during their infancy, and without federal assistance, companies aimed at reducing emissions and utilizing alternative fuels simply cannot compete.
Start-ups like Carbon Motors and Bright Automotive have had no choice but to drop their applications and are unable to move forward without the government backing they relied on. Carbon Motors had to forgo plans to produce a fleet of police cars with diesel engines (which used 40% less fuel), and Bright Automotive shut down their operations to build a plug-in hybrid delivery van (with claims of 85 mpg). Since when did America transition from a country of innovators and visionaries into a country satisfied with the status quo? We’ve become complacent and lazy as a society, determined to wring out every drop of oil no matter the environmental or foreign security cost, because it’s an energy source that is familiar and cheap (only in the short term) to Americans. It’s interesting that our society embraces the ever-evolving, limitless world of consumer technology, supporting the next Apple product with unanimous enthusiasm, but when it comes to the advancement and integration of alternative fuels we are incapable of accepting a new energy infrastructure if it doesn’t include an oil derrick. If we want to truly achieve clean energy independence, we cannot afford to suffocate the innovators by tying our energy future to the destructive ways of the past.