The House investigation of the Energy Department’s controversial loan program for alternative energy companies is likely to center on the actions of Commerce Secretary John Bryson as well as Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who is leading the investigation, wants both Cabinet members to appear before the committee, The Hill
At a hearing Wednesday, Republicans charged that Bryson, as chairman of BrightSource Energy before he joined the administration, planned to lobby the White House for a $1.6 billion loan guarantee for a solar energy project that involved the company.
Issa told The Hill Wednesday that he wants Bryson and Chu to discuss that loan. “As a matter of fact, we’re going to ask Secretary Bryson to come to the committee for his direct lobby effort of the White House,” he said.
Republicans on the Oversight Committee released a March 7, 2011 e-mail from BrightSource President John Woolard to Jonathan Silver, then director of the Energy Department’s loan program. Woolard showed Silver a draft version of a letter from Bryson to then-White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, requesting completion of the government’s loan guarantee for Ivanpah, a giant solar power plant being built in California's Mojave Desert.
“I have a fairly significant challenge for the administration that I would like to bring to your attention. The White House needs to focus on finalizing the loan guarantee for what would be the largest solar thermal project in the world,” Bryson said in the draft letter, which was never sent.
Issa told The Hill, “Clearly we have a discovery of e-mails showing there was direct conversation intended by the people having those conversations to be lobbying all the way up to and including President Obama.”
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