On Wednesday, July 10, the House passed H.R. 2609—which Bloomberg News called a “$30.4 Billion Energy-Water Spending Measure.” The 2014 Energy-Water Development appropriations bill will cut spending on renewables and other green energy programs in half and was passed mostly along party lines—with 4 Republicans voting against and 7 Democrats for it.
Democrats offered amendments to the bill aimed at restoring funding to renewable energy programs, which failed. Republicans’ amendments focused on cuts: Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan sponsored an amendment that would eliminate spending for a national media campaign promoting alternative energy, and Rep. John Fleming, M.D. of Louisiana sponsored an amendment to stop a $3.25 billion green energy loan program—both were approved.
While many of the different taxpayer funded green energy programs introduced in the 2009 stimulus bill —which have produced more than 50 bankrupt, or near bankrupt, projects—have now expired, the Fleming amendment draws attention to a pot of money that is, currently, largely unspent. Fleming describes this remaining boondoggle: “The Obama 2009 stimulus bill cost taxpayers about $830 billion, and much of it was wasted on growing government and administration giveaways, like a $3.25 billion loan program that put taxpayers on the hook for failed green energy projects. A company could take a government loan and walk away from a project without paying taxpayers back, even if the company remained in business. In a free market economy, companies may turn to banks and investors to borrow money, but the government should not force taxpayers to be lenders, even as it gives borrowers a pass on paying back their loans.”
While Republicans realize the embarrassing failure of the stimulus bill’s green energy programs, Democrats want to keep spending—often in the face of opposition from their usual supporters. One of the most controversial commercial green energy projects,Cape Wind, provides a case in point.