H.R. 6213: No More Solyndras Act

H.R. 6213

No More Solyndras Act

Sponsor
Rep. Fred Upton

Date
September 13, 2012 (112th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Sarah Makin

Floor Situation

On Friday, September 15, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 6213, the No More Solyndras Act, under a rule.  The rule makes in order two amendments and would provide for one motion to recommit with or without instructions.  Amendments made in order are summarized below.

H.R. 6213 was introduced on July 27, 2012, by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.  The Committee held a mark-up of H.R. 6213 on July 31, 2012, and reported the bill, as amended, by a vote of 29 to 19.

Bill Summary

H.R. 6213 would accomplish the following:

  • H.R. 6213 would phase out the Department of Energy’s (DOE) loan guarantee program under Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Incentives for Innovative Technologies) by prohibiting DOE from issuing any loan guarantees under Title XVII for applications submitted after December 31, 2011;
  • Applicants and projects that are already pending in the queue and/or have received conditional commitments but have not yet been issued a loan guarantee would be grandfather into a new approval process;
  • Under the new approval process, the bill would prohibit any pending applications from being guaranteed until the Secretary of Treasury has made a written recommendation to DOE on the merits of the guarantee within 30 days of receiving a loan proposal;
  • The bill would require DOE  to provide a detailed explanation to Congress if a loan is guaranteed and does not conform to a Treasury recommendation;
  • The bill would require DOE to provide a report to Congress detailing the following information for any new guarantees issued to an existing applicant: (1) the review and decision-making process utilized by DOE in issuing the guarantee; (2) the terms of the guarantee; (3) the recipient; and (4) the technology and project; and
  • The bill would prohibit DOE from restructuring the terms of any guarantee unless they first consult with Treasury.
  • The bill would provide civil penalties for any federal official who issues a loan guarantee in contravention of this legislation.
  • The bill would require the Comptroller General to conduct a study of the Federal subsidies in energy markets provided from fiscal year 2003 through fiscal year 2012.

Background

The Committee on Energy and Commerce conducted extensive oversight investigations of the failed Solyndra loan, and uncovered a series of wrongdoings by the Obama administration in its management of the loan guarantee program.  H.R. 6213 would effectively terminate the administration’s loan guarantee program by prohibiting the Department of Energy from issuing any loan guarantees for applications submitted after December 31, 2011.  The legislation will also provide taxpayers with new protections for already pending participants, including increased due diligence, new transparency requirements, and the prohibition of taxpayer subordination.

House Republicans understand that the Nation would benefit from an all-of-the-above energy policy that includes alternative as well as conventional energy sources.  Increasingly it has become clear that the energy mix will change over time to take advantage of new technological breakthroughs.  However, according to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, there “is a right way and a wrong way to diversify the Nation's energy supply, and heavy-handed government attempts to pick winners and losers have a long and unsuccessful history.”

House Report 112-652 states, “Nonetheless, this was the approach taken by the Obama Administration in the 2009 stimulus package, which allocated $90 billion dollars for the so-called green energy economy.  The results of the stimulus spending are largely in, and they are no better than Washington's past efforts to spur energy innovation and jobs by favoring specific companies and technologies.  Particularly disappointing is the Administration's record on the loan guarantee program established under Title 17 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.”

Additional resources related to Solynda and the “No More Solyndras Act” can be found here.

Cost

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 6213 would cost about $1 million over the 2013-2017 period, assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts. Pay-as-you-go procedures would apply to this legislation because it would affect direct spending and revenues. CBO estimates, however, that those impacts would be insignificant over the 2013-2022 period.

Amendments

Amendment No. 1—Rep. DeGette (D-CO):  The amendment would add the following new findings: 

  1. The Department of Energy estimates that projects funded under the title XVII program are expected to create 60,000 jobs.
  2. An investigation by the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation of the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives determined that the Solyndra loan determination was based on the best professional judgment of career Department of Energy and Office of Management and Budget officials, without political or ideological interference from Obama Administration political appointees or career officials.
  3. Title XVII provides that taxpayer interests cannot be subordinated in the origination of a loan, but does not state whether subordination is allowed during restructuring of a loan. The Department of Energy General Counsel determined that in such cases subordination was allowed under the law, and
  4. Department of the Treasury officials testified before the Subcommittee on Energy and Power of the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives on October 14, 2011, and stated that their consultation on the Solyndra loan guarantee was not rushed.  In interviews conducted by the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation of the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives, Office of Management and Budget officials indicated that their review of the Solyndra loan, and the review of Department of Energy officials, was thorough, complete, and fair, and based on reasonable economic assumptions about the company’s future.
  5. This report found that the portfolio of projects under title XVII was strong, performing within the risk confines established by the Congress, and would cost the Government $2,000,000,000 less than initially expected.’’

Amendment No. 2—Rep. Waxman (D-CA): The amendment would allow DOE to continue issuing new loan guarantees for applications submitted after December 31, 2011.