Energy Secretary Steven Chu gives himself an "A??? for gas prices


Energy Secretary Steven Chu – who has less business keeping his job than almost anyone in America, with the possible exception of the people at Disney who lost $200 million on the “John Carter” film – plopped himself down before a House oversight panel today and… gave himself an “A” for his performance. 

He was quite specific about his grade, too.  An “A minus” would not be good enough.  The self-esteem movement really has ruined American education.

Here are a few highlights from Chu’s quest for “long-term solutions,” according to a report released today by Rep. Darrell Issa’s House Oversight Committee:

80 percent of the Energy Department’s funds went into solar technology, “leaving taxpayers vulnerable by over-emphasizing a single technology.”

Billions of dollars went to a Spanish firm, Abengoa, which boasted “the lowest rated project across the entire DOE Junk portfolio.”  The results “will likely cause substantial harm to the taxpayer.”

BrightSource Energy plowed $56 million of a $1.6 billion DOE loan into a “desert tortoise relocation program.”  But $56 million wasn’t nearly enough, as the cost of tortoise relocation has exploded – and now “threaten to derail the entire $1.6 billion project.”

The Abound Solar project got $70 million from Chu’s department, with a $400 million conditional loan guarantee approved, even though it had a junk credit rating even worse than Solyndra’s, and it was “lagging in technology relative to its competitors.”  At the beginning of this month, Abound announced it would stop producing solar panels, and would fire 180 employees.

The Nevada Geothermal Power Company scored $98.5 million in loan guarantees, even though “the loan did not finance any new construction, and therefore did not help to create a single new job,” and the troubled company “had already violated contract terms and debt covenants relating to financing from its primary lender.”  Fortunately, Steven “A” Chu has much lower standards for issuing loans than private-sector companies, with their irrational hang-ups about getting repaid and staying in business.

Chu’s mismanagement has led to the approval of politically-favored programs over more credible projects, which in turn have pumped false data into the economy, encouraging some firms to “misallocate capital, which has led to financial harm.”  The legendary recklessness of the Energy Department to throw taxpayer money at dubious projects is extensively documented.  Shaky companies with credit ratings that would terrify any sane investor received gigantic loan guarantees.  Familiar names from the Obama Hall of Epic Failure are dropped, including Beacon Power, First Solar, and of course Solyndra.

The Energy Department loves to boast about jobs created through its programs, but the Oversight Committee documents how “these figures are misleading, and attempt to pass off jobs that already existed as new jobs.”

Does that sound like a straight-A performance, especially in an environment of rising gas prices, which have the American people so angry that Chu was recently forced to recant his long-held belief that fabulously expensive gas – far beyond anything we’re facing today – was a wonderful tool for “transforming” America into a more primitive, “sustainable” nation?

Here’s Chu demonstrating his A-level competence by telling Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) that he’s completely ignorant of all those wonderful political ties between the big “green energy winners” bleeding America dry, and the Obama Administration.  Not since Attorney General Eric Holder has a top official professed such utter and total ignorance of his department’s activities. 

Jordan absolutely demolishes him, and does a superb job of totaling up the economic damage from Chu and Obama’s crony capitalism.  When the sonorous Chu mumbles that “we can all look up what these investment ratings mean,” Jeffords exclaims, “I have!  I wish you guys would have, before you gave the loans!”

And that’s the point of all this: Crony capitalism is all about using compulsive force to loot taxpayers.  It has nothing to do with making wise investments, because if that were its purpose, Steven Chu and his cornucopia of loan guarantees wouldn’t be necessary.  This whole misbegotten adventure was about over-riding the judgment of free people, to impose politically-ordained but wildly unrealistic “solutions” upon them.  At a cost of many billions of dollars, plus interest, we have learned the free market was right all along.   

That’s not a surprising lesson.  A private-sector executive with Steven Chu’s record would have been fired long, long ago, and would probably be facing legal action.  He’d be facing medical action too, if he dared to inform his bankrupted stockholders that “A minus” isn’t good enough to grade his performance.  Politics legitimizes what free and responsible people dismiss as madness.