Issa, Sessions Press DOI To Stop Stonewalling, Provide Requested Info On Corporate Energy Loans

May 29, 2012

“It is suggestive and troubling that more than half a year has passed without DOI providing the requested documents and information. Our concern is heightened given the serious nature of the questions raised and the government’s pattern of indiscretion in providing government assistance to politically connected green energy companies such as Solyndra.”

WASHINGTON—U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, issued a joint statement today after sending a letter to Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar about the Department’s role in the Obama Administration’s green energy initiatives.

In their letter, Sessions and Issa note that more than six months have passed since Sessions first asked Salazar for detailed information about preferential treatment—including expedited permitting and approval—provided to certain favored energy corporations. To date, Interior has only provided a minimal amount of already publicly available information. Upon release of the letter, Sessions and Issa stated:

“Last November, a request was made of the Department of the Interior for information and answers about its role in the Department of Energy’s green energy loan guarantee program, as well as favorable loans and federal land-use deals provided to certain corporations. These lucrative deals were provided to well-connected firms on a much faster timeline and with fewer restrictions, including environmental, than those applied to traditional energy products that often provide a better value for taxpayers.

 

It is suggestive and troubling that more than half a year has passed without DOI providing the requested documents and information. Our concern is heightened given the serious nature of the questions raised and the government’s pattern of indiscretion in providing government assistance to politically connected green energy companies such as Solyndra.

The information currently accessible to the public raises the question of whether these companies received approval to use federal lands and taxpayer monies based not on the best value for the American people but the political clout of the recipients. Given the taxpayer dollars at risk, at a time of fiscal crisis, Interior’s failure to provide answers is unacceptable. These questions warrant an expeditious and thorough response, and we intend to ensure we receive one.”

Below, find the companies named in Sessions’ original request, sent in November of 2011:

• Abengoa Solar, Inc. (Mojave Solar)
• BrightSource Energy (Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System)
• First Solar, Inc. (Desert Sunlight Solar Farm)
• Nevada Geothermal Power, Inc. (Blue Mountain Geothermal Project)
• NextEra Energy Resources (Genesis Solar Project)
• SolarReserve, LLC (Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project)

Text of the letter from Sessions and Issa follows:

The Honorable Kenneth L. Salazar
Secretary of the Interior
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20240

Dear Mr. Secretary:

            We are writing to request information that the Department of the Interior (DOI) has thus far refused to provide to Congress. More than six months ago Senator Jeff Sessions, the Ranking Member on the Senate Committee on the Budget, requested specific information regarding DOI’s possible preferential treatment of certain renewable or alternative energy projects – all of which received taxpayer-funded loan guarantees.[1] Despite repeated attempts to have this request fulfilled, DOI has not produced an adequate response. This is unacceptable.

            Thus, we request the following information as soon as possible, but no later than noon on June 12, 2012. If you fail to comply fully with this request, we will have no other choice but to consider the use of compulsory process.

1. All communications involving Steve Black, referring or relating to any 1705 loan guarantee project;
2. All communications involving Janea Scott, referring or relating to any 1705 loan guarantee project;
3. All communications involving David Hayes, referring or relating to any 1705 loan guarantee project;
4. All communications involving Ned Farquhar, referring or relating to any 1705 loan guarantee project;
5. All communications involving Neil Kornze, referring or relating to any 1705 loan guarantee project;
6. All documents and communications referring or relating to Abengoa Solar, Inc.’s Mojave Solar project between January 20, 2009, and April 1, 2012;
7. All documents and communications referring or relating to BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah project between January 20, 2009, and April 1, 2012;
8. All documents and communications referring or relating to First Solar, Inc.’s Desert Sunlight project between January 20, 2009, and April 1, 2012;
9. All documents and communications referring or relating to Nevada Geothermal Power, Inc.’s Blue Mountain project between January 20, 2009, and April 1, 2012;
10. All documents and communications referring or relating to NextEra Energy Resources’ Genesis Solar project between January 20, 2009, and April 1, 2012;
11. All documents and communications referring or relating to Nevada, Inc.’s Jersey Valley project between January 20, 2009, and April 1, 2012;
12. All documents and communications referring or relating to SolarReserve, LLC’s Crescent Dunes project between January 20, 2009, and April 1, 2012;

            The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principal oversight committee of the House of Representatives and may at “any time” investigate “any matter” as set forth in House Rule X.

            When documents are produced to the Committee, production sets should be delivered to the Majority Staff in Room 2157 of the Rayburn House Office Building and the Minority Staff in Room 2471 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The Committee prefers, if possible, to receive all documents in electronic format. In preparing your answers to these inquiries, please answer each question individually and include the text of each question along with your response. Additionally, copies of all responsive materials should be delivered to the Majority and Minority offices of the Senate Budget Committee, located in Room 624 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

            Should you have any questions, please contact Tyler Grimm or Mike Whatley of Chairman Issa’s staff at (202)-225-5074 or Patrick Mullane of Ranking Member Sessions’s staff at (202)-224-8695. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Darrell Issa, Chairman
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
U.S. House of Representatives

Jeff Sessions, Ranking Member
Committee on the Budget
U.S. Senate

cc:

The Honorable Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Minority Member
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
U.S. House of Representatives

 

The Honorable Kent Conrad, Chairman
Committee on the Budget
U.S. Senate