One of the scoops of the day, from The Washington Post:
"The Obama White House tried to rush federal reviewers for a decision on a nearly half-billion-dollar loan to the solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra so Vice President Biden could announce the approval at a September 2009 groundbreaking for the company's factory, newly obtained e-mails show."
According to the Post, "the August 2009 emails ... show White House officials repeatedly asking OMB reviewers when they would be able to decide on the federal loan and noting a looming press event at which they planned to announce the deal. In response, OMB officials expressed concern that they were being rushed."
White House spokesman Eric Schultz tells the Post that the administration was expressing a "quite active interest" in the loan decision, but that it was left to career staffers at the Department of Energy to weigh the merits of the loan.
The Post adds that "it is not clear from the emails whether the White House influenced a final decision to approve the loan guarantee." The previous administration, of Republican President George W. Bush, had also been pursuing a federal loan guarantee for Solyndra.
Biden participated via satellite feed in Solyndra's Sept. 4, 2009, groundbreaking and "announced the Department of Energy has finalized a $535 million loan guarantee for Solyndra, Inc., which manufactures innovative cylindrical solar photovoltaic panels that provide clean, renewable energy," according to a White House statement issued at the time. In May 2010, President Obama visited the company to tout the jobs it had created.
On Aug. 31 this year, Solyndra declared bankruptcy. George Avalos, a business reporter with the Bay Area Newsgroup, told All Things Considered earlier this month that Solyndra was "never able to get [its] manufacturing costs low enough to be competitive with solar panel manufacturers in China, as well as solar manufacturer companies here in the United States."
The Post's story comes, The Associated Press writes, as a House panel prepares for a hearing today to "examine what went wrong with Solyndra" and ask why "taxpayers on the hook" for the nearly half-billion dollar loan. As we previously wrote, the loan to the company and its subsequent failure has become a political issue.
Last week, federal agents raided Solyndra's offices as part of an investigation being conducted with the Department of Energy's Office of Inspector General.