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Solyndra and Its Defenders

The more green energy advocates either ignore or defend what happened with Solyndra, the worse they look.

3:35 PM, Sep 19, 2011 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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And speaking of whether the facts are going to matter much, here's a damning critique by Massimo Calabresi of Grunwald's latest Solyndra defense offered up elsewhere on Time's website:

The talented Mike Grunwald laid out the case yesterday for quarantining Solyndra from the rest of the solar effort. Just because Solyndra’s model failed, he says, doesn’t mean the rest of the push to fund innovation in renewable energy while simultaneously creating much-needed jobs is corrupt or doomed to failure.

It’s really not my area, but I’m skeptical of the idea that wind and solar energy can play a significant role in supplying U.S. energy needs, let alone ultimately displace dirty sources like coal or crude oil. As of 2009, wind and solar combined made up all of 1% of U.S. energy production and 0.8% of consumption, according to this Energy Department report (pdf). Solar taken by itself makes up a whopping 0.1% of total production and 0.1% of consumption. 

Mike says, “The U.S. solar market doubled last year, and it’s expected to double again this year, even though many states are reducing their subsidies.” Says renowned Ag-jobs expert, Foghorn Leghorn: “Two nuthins is nuthin.”

Read the whole thing, especially the bit where Calabresi eviscerates Grunwald's laughable claim that wind power is now a bigger employer than coal. (Even if it were true, it is actually an indictment of green energy. "If it takes that many people to make the equipment to produce 0.7% of America’s energy needs, it’s totally unscalable," as Calabresi observes.)

I realize I'm picking on Grunwald a lot here, even if he did put himself out there. However, it should be noted he merely makes a convienent bad example, as a lot of the arguments he's making pass for conventional wisdom about green policies on the left. It's really just a shame that Grunwald and others defending green jobs policies are so delusional about what's going on here, both on the political and economic fronts.

At this point, anyone attempting to defend Solyndra looks like they're just lashing out. Today, Grunwald's spinning the whole "scandal" as a matter of GOP hypocrisy and I fully expect this argument to pick up steam as those worried about what Solyndra's demise means for the future of green energy continue to grasp at straws. If the charge is that the GOP is also guilty of crony capitalism involving similar programs, there's a good case to make -- but ultimately GOP hypocrisy doesn't mean that the White House shouldn't be held accountable for fast-tracking Solyndra $535 million from the public treasury after one of the major investors raised a bunch of cash for Obama's campaign.

If you really believe that supporting green jobs and other strict environmental policies are necessary, you should be outraged that this program was manipulated for political ends, as it will make it harder to muster any future government economic support for green jobs and green tech.

Grunwald and other sincere green energy supporters got played by lobbyists, rich businessmen and a White House full of Chicago politicians that thinks pay-to-play is the usual way of conducting government business. The more Grunwald and others alternately ignore or disingenuously fail to own up to what's really behind the Solyndra debacle, the worse they look.

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