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Rep. Issa and the (unnecessary) Politics of Clean Energy

Bob Keefe

Posted September 22, 2011

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Clean energy is suddenly a dirty word among Republicans in Congress.

Rep. Darrell Issa, whose claim to fame before skillfully climbing the GOP ladder in the House was instrumenting the nasty recall of a sitting Democratic governor in California, is now leading the Republican charge to turn clean energy into another Democratic bogeyman.

The title of the hearing Rep. Issa will convene today (Sept. 22) as chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform shows once again that it’s politics, not what’s good for America, that’s driving him and other House Republicans. The hearing is called “"How Obama's Green Energy Agenda is Killing Jobs.”

Republicans didn’t always think clean energy was bad. Turns out – go figure – that Chairman Issa is among at least 10 of the 23 GOP members on his committee who have tried to get government support for green jobs in their districts.

Environment & Energy Daily has the story here.

According to E&E Daily, the House Republicans on Issa’s panel on numerous occasions sought government funding through President Obama’s economic stimulus program – the same program Republicans have long vilified -  again, because of politics.

Others, like Chairman Issa, sought money through the Department of Energy Loan guarantee program – the same program that they’re vilifying now, once again because of politics.

In a January 2009 letter uncovered by EE News and posted along with others here, Issa hits DOE Secretary Steven Chu up for a loan guarantee for Aptera Motors Inc., an electric car maker that wanted to set up shop in Issa’s district in Carlsbad, Calif.

Carlsbad, a beach community north of San Diego, is no Motor City.

But Carlsbad does happen to be next to the city of Vista, Calif., which just so happens to be where Issa owns a company that makes alarms for cars.

Another publication, The Hill, points out that one of Aptera’s trustees and investors also has contributed to Issa’s campaign fund.

Issa of course doesn’t mention any of that in his letter seeking a loan guarantee for Aptera. But here’s what he does point out:

“Electric vehicle initiatives like Aptera’s will aid U.S. long-term energy goals by shifting away from fossil fuels and using viable renewable energy sources like plug-in electric energy,” he writes to DOE Secretary Chu.

“Additionally, Aptera’s vehicles will reduce dependence on foreign oil and enhance energy security,” Issa writes.

Now there’s the real rub.

Lost in all the political rhetoric over clean energy is the fact that we need to do exactly what Chairman Issa says.

We need to find ways to reduce our dependence on oil. We need to enhance our energy security. We need to shift away from fossil fuels and toward viable renewable energy sources.

We need to continue to support clean energy projects in America.

Doing so will help America’ security in the future, and create badly needed jobs today for Americans– regardless of whether they’re Republicans or Democrats.

We shouldn’t let the failure of one company called Solyndra or allow a political witch hunt to stop that. The stakes are too high, the need too important.

Whether we’re Republican or Democrat, our country needs to move away from fossil fuels that pollute our air and water, scar our lands and forces us to send more than $350 billion a year of our hard-earned dollars to foreign oil interests.

If only we could get politics out of the way. 

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