Energy Sec. Chu Chums China: Solyndra Testimony Live

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu is testifying to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce right now. 

Topic: The DoE's $535 million Solyndra loan guarantee and subsequent efforts to rescue the troubled Fremont, California solar panel maker. 

In recent days, it has emerged that the Obama Administration tried to avoid layoffs at the troubled company until after the 2010 election (Solyndra subsequently went bankrupt.); that a key environmental adviser urged the agency to fire Chu early this year; that another environmental adviser warned then chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel about the company's troubles in 2009; and that Chu, along with other Energy Department officials, ignored warnings  that might have limited taxpayer losses. 

You can watch Chu's testimony live at C-SPAN 3

Chu will begin speaking shortly. 

Check back here for updates throughout the grilling. 

Chu 10:30: What's half a billion when we're talking $243 billion in green pork? 

10:39: "Personally did not do any research on Chinese market," despite the Administration's ringing anti-China rhetoric on this matter. 

10:39: My staff's view was that the subordination was "proper." 

10:43: Chu's excuse for the loan restructuring that subordinated taxpayers to Obama cronies may be the first-ever use of the OPEC was doing it too defense. 

10:50: So far Chu is pleading total memory loss of all the emails warning that Solyndra was going to run out of cash. 

10:52: But then Chu is drawing a distinction between running out of cash and "bankruptcy." 

10:58: Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) throws softballs (to the secretary whose "reputation for integrity is impeccable"): Where you aware that there was risk involved? Was the decision made on the merits? And so on. 

11:16: Chu just said he didn't know the Bush DoE had turned down Solyndra's loan. Didn't he? 

11:33: Chu chums China. Dems have been winning so far. Speeches like Rep. Ed Markey's are setting the tone. 

11:35: Rep. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) I meant to say. But at least the Dems are bringing up subsidies at a higher level. 

11:38: How dare Ed Markey belittle "pets.com in the dotcom bubble"? At least the dotcommers built something that lasted. 

11:42: Rep. John Sullivan (R-Oklahoma): Zero sales up front not an issue? "First have to build a factory and then build."

11:44: Lotta savvy investors invested nearly a billion dollars prior to government loan guarantee.

11:45: Sullivan wrap: "not proper way to do business," would not do it over again. 

11:54: Thank you, Rep. Timothy Murphy (R-Pennsylvania) for staying awake throughout the proceedings. Chu's round of not-aware-at-that-times is humiliating. 

11:57: Please, Sec. Chu, just blurt out: "IT WAS ONLY HALF A BILLION FUCKING DOLLARS!" 

11:59: "We were making the office more robust." Nothing but process-speak to business questions. 

12:09: Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) questions Chu's attentiveness over a job that involved overseeing the nation's "nuclear secrets." I thought the secrets were pretty much out and the challenge was putting together the material. Why would anybody, especially a Nobel laureate, want to be a Secretary of Energy? 

12:11: When we reach the Twitter segment of this sworn testimony, I'm definitely gonna send commenter PIRS' question: "How much energy does the Department of Energy create in an average year?" 

12:26: OK, I thought of one reason: In the original run of The Dazzler, Marvel's disco superheroine is imprisoned by the Department of Energy, but escapes after killing Klaw. But really, aren't universities bankrupting their trust funds to compete for Nobelists to fill no-work sinecures at low-hundreds-of-thousands salaries? 

12:29: Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-San Diego County, California) raises the excellent point that the Eastasian Enemy subsidizes traditional solar panels, not fancy experiments like Solyndra tubes that are supposed to go up on your roof in all kinds of weather. I'll have a column soon in Reason's print magazine on the wonderful baroque and needless complexity of the Solyndra deal. 

12:35: Rep. Phil Gingrey (D-Georgia), I like football fine on Sunday. What in the name of Zeus are you talking about? 

12:43: Rep. Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) lands some hits about the ignored check-with-Justice warnings on this year's restructuring. Chu claims he does not know of any discussions with Obama inner circle players pushing for the restructuring. 

12:44: Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Florida) has risen from the dead, finally trying to follow up on an absurd answer. Chu has no idea who within the president's staff was agitating for the restructuring? 

12:50: Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Virginia): When you had OMB and Treasury advising you to get a legal opinion, why didn't you go to Justice? 

12:51: Chu: We did get outside council's (counsel's?) opinion. 

12:55: Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas) changing law to make taxpayers pay credit subsidy changed the risk profile, would you agree? Chu: Credit subsidy was there for a reason. 

12:59: Not since Yasir Arafat has a Nobel laureate been shelled the way Steven Chu is being pummeled by Republicans right now. 

1:00: A 15-minute break? Are you kidding me? They're going to be injecting propofol into Chu for 900 straight seconds.

1:19: School's back in session. I am going to have to recuse myself at some point as I have to go wear out some shoe leather, but will be on for the next 30 minutes or so. Try the veal. 

1:22: Stearns: Two out of the first 1705 loans failed. How many more, in your opinion, are going to go bad? Chu: Some nuclear power plants are at risk. Varying degrees of risk whenever you invest in high risk innovative companies. 

1:27: Stearns being impolite: "fired because of your incompetence." How dare he refer to an internal Obama Administration email? 

1:33: Since Markey and other Dems have laid the groundwork for a blame-markets defense, why not go the whole hog and say Chu learned his extralegal business methods from the private sector, during his too-brief stint at Bell Labs (where he did his Nobel-worthy work)?

1:40: While the circus goes on, Andrew Breitbart puts together a chart claiming 80 percent of DoE loans went to Obama donors. (I'd expect a large number of those give money to both parties, which is one of the many weaknesses of House Republicans in investigating this matter.) 

1:41: Confirmation bias alert: I completely was getting packed up and ready to leave while Chu was questioned by Rep. Diane DeGette (D-Colorado), one of Chu's allies on the committee. 

2:05: With Waxman's commiserations, I bid adieu to the Committee, our readers, and Steven Chu's career. 

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • PIRS||

    Mr. Chu,

    How much energy does the Department of Energy create in an average year?

  • ||

    Create or save, you mean.

  • ||

    The universe has only so much energy, which is neither created nor saved. Thus does the DoE work to conserve American jobs.

  • ||

    I chu-chu-choose you as the designated scapegoat.

    Under the bus, chinaman.
    http://unholidaycards.com/choo-front-pre.png

  • Ska||

    Nicely done, Ralph.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    da FIIIIIIF!

  • ||

    That actually sounds like a pretty good idea to me dude. Wow.

    www.totally-anon.us.tc

  • Anomalous||

    He sounds like a real Nobel Prize winner. What?

  • ||

    More like loser, amirite?

  • db||

    At the very least, an executive who has total memory loss of emails indicating a significant investment is in mortal peril is dangerously incompetent. If you believe what he says about forgetting all that, and you have evidence he was informed, there's nothing to do but fire him, and maybe take legal action against him for irresponsible discharge of his duties. But that's in the private world. In Chu's case he will probably lose his job but no leval action will be taken and he will continue to enjoy the fruits of his cabinet position (speaking fees, consulting gigs, etc.) for a very long time.

  • ||

    I bet he doesn't lose his job. Obama has been in office almost three years. And he hasn't fired a single person to my knowledge. No one is ever held accountable for anything. These people don't even bother with fall guys.

  • ||

    If I were sitting on the nest of scandals that Obama is, I wouldn't dare fire anyone who knew what was going on either.

    The day Chu gets fired is the day his memory comes back.

  • ||

    Fair point.

  • ||

    Actually, he fired two generals in charge in Afghanistan.

  • ||

    True. But one of those was for a story in Rolling Stone that later turned out not to be true. And even if it was, he fired the guy for making fun of the White House staff not for incompetance or corruption.

  • ||

    Van Jones

  • Spoonman.||

    And if he does, he'll have the high-status position as a martyr of the Republican persecution of intellectuals.

  • Paul||

    At the very least, an executive who has total memory loss of emails indicating a significant investment is in mortal peril is dangerously incompetent.

    Based on my experience in the corporate world, the answer to this is: Six-figure salaries all around!

  • ||

    There's going to be a bombshell. The committee wouldn't have invited Chu without a big gotcha. Chu will have hung himself before this hearing is over.

  • ||

    You think so. I hope so. But when is the last time that happened?

  • ||

    Given that the answer for this administration is always "I don't remember" unless it's a question that you can make a nice speech in response to, it's going to be tough to Gotcha anyone in this administration.

  • cynical||

    Polygraphs.

  • ||

    Chairman Stearns waited to invite Chu until after he interviewed the DOE council. I think he has something, but I've been wrong before.

  • ||

    11:16: Chu just said he didn't know the Bush DoE had turned down Solyndra's loan. Didn't he?

    That is a pretty easy fact to establish. He better hope that is true, which I would imagine it isn't. Lying to congress is a crime.

  • ||

    It is? Then why isn't Holder in shackles?

  • ||

    Aw, shit. Holder's black so I'm gonna call myself out for being RAAAAAAAAAAAAAACCCCCCCCIIIIISSSSSSSTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!

  • ||

    It's been well established that in this day and age black people are 100% completely incapable of any wrongdoing.

  • T||

    Then why are so many of them in jail?

  • SFC B||

    Racism.

    Duh.

  • ||

    Racist patriarchical justice system.

  • ||

    Lying to congress is a crime.

    It's not a crime if the DOJ won't prosecute.

    Yes, I know that Congress can send the seargent at arms out to arrest someone who violates laws pertaining to Congressional proceedings, but you and I both know that's not going to happen.

  • Beloved Rev. Blue Moon||

    Man, I would love to be a proactive sergeant-at-arms. What a sweet title.

  • Brett L||

    Lying in Congress, however, is a time-honored tradition.

  • *||

    I wish cspan's video player didn't crash my computer...

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    Multiple updates in original post. Agree with PIRS' question above. James Ard, if there's a bombshell they sure are taking their time with it.

  • ||

    They are going two rounds. But I must admit they haven't dinged him yet.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    Murphy and Sullivan beat him up like a couple of cops. He's still standing, but his reputation for competence isn't.

  • sevo||

    His what?

  • ||

    Shorter Chu: What's the big deal? It was just other people's money.

  • ||

    I believe I heard somebody say a little while ago that Chu very graciously fell on his sword and "took full personal responsibility".

    "Move along, people; nothing more to see here."

  • ||

    Personal responsibility but he won't resign or face any sanction. Damn gracious of him.

  • Paul||

    It's usually shortly after taking "full responsibility" without any sanction that we start hearing words like, "Putting this behind me" and "getting back to the work of the American people".

  • ||

    Well, if he's "personally responsible", he'll be happy to pay the government back for this tragic failure of judgement?
    Right Stevie?
    Right!

  • ||

    A wise President surrounds himself with capable and competent spearcatchers.

  • ||

    Why, Brooksie, cause he's a spearchucker?

    Your racism sickens me more than my own above.

  • SFC B||

    "Spearchucker".

    Funny you use that word. Just last night I was discussing just how incredibly different our media culture is today than when I was younger. I used Dr. Oliver Jones from MASH as Exhibit A.

  • ||

    The first three seasons of MASH with the original cast were brilliant. Then it devolved into the Donohue show in olive drab.

  • ||

    Why does Gingrey have to remind me about Mike Smith's decision on Sunday?

  • ||

    12:26: OK, I thought of one reason: In the original run of The Dazzler, Marvel's disco superheroine is imprisoned by the Department of Energy, but escapes after killing Klaw. But really, aren't universities bankrupting their trust funds to compete for Nobelists to fill no-work sinecures at low-hundreds-of-thousands salaries? 

    Meh, the Canuckistani DoE goes balls out when it comes to comics. We ain't got shit on them.

  • NL_||

    It's interesting that Obama has used government money and power to funnel billions and billions of dollars of value to auto unions, teacher's unions, car dealers, and health insurance companies. But that's all considered legal, even though they were transparent and brazen attempts to buy off special interests. If there's no shady backroom meeting, then somehow it's not corruption.

    Speaking as somebody on the hook for these shenanigans, I don't care whether the quid pro quo was explicit (Solyndra) or implied (teacher's unions). I just want the money spigot shut off.

  • ||

    Busted for not telling the AG about the default on the loan.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    Agreed. Will the Dems be able to dismiss that as a minor procedural point? Why can't Santa Claus bring us somebody naked or dead or both in the Solyndra story so it will get resources?

  • Tman||

    Please tell me Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) is going to be asking some questions.

  • ||

    12:50: Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Virginia): When you had OMB and Treasury advising you to get a legal opinion, why didn't you go to Justice?

    12:51: Chu: We did get outside council's (counsel's?) opinion.

    Non-responsive. Why not go to DOJ?

    And, what was their opinion? That it was illegal as hell? That for a substantial fee, they might be able to get you off at your criminal trial?

  • ||

    Outside counsel whose emails aren't subject to FOIA.

  • ||

    Does the federal government even recognize the privilege anymore? Oh, wait, right, that's only for private actors. Not for the government aristocracy.

  • ||

    OUtside counsel whent here is an entire office of general counsel for Treasury and as you mention and entire Justice Department and office of legal counsel to the President whose job it is to opine on such matters. Nothing suspicious there. In my entire time in government I have never heard of hiring an outside counsel to answer a basic legal question, especially one involving government fiscal law, which private sector lawyers don't practice.

    What a lying sack of shit.

  • Paul||

    11:38: How dare Ed Markey belittle "pets.com in the dotcom bubble"? At least the dotcommers built something that lasted.

    Hey, I love PETS.COM. I used to work for the #1 worst-performing IPO of 2000 until we were edged out by PETS.COM.

    The company I worked for was so shitty, it couldn't even be the #1 worst at anything.

  • ||

    And they produced the greatest sock puppet of all time. Even better than the sock puppets that play yeists on Good Eats.

  • ||

    http://danieljmitchell.wordpre.....al-crisis/

    Lucious Italian babe and former Cato intern explains five lessons for America from the European debt crisis. The only drawback is that you have to watch the video three or four times before you can get yourself to pay attention to what she is saying, which is extremely good.

  • Paul||

    I'm waching it sans sound right now. I'll watch it later to find out what she says.

  • ||

    When you turn the sound on, her accent will distract you all over again.

  • Paul||

    She's already off-track on point one. Progressives will be confused:

    1. Higher taxes mean bigger government, not lower deficits.

    You can almost hear the collective progressive head-scratching: "Yeah, and?"

  • Paul||

    She's got a power-point though, so I may not have to turn on the audio.

  • ||

    She's got a power-point though,

    Oh, its chilly there?

  • Un PC||

    Q: For the record sir, what is your name?

    A: Chu.

    Q: Bless you. Now for the record, sir, what is your name?

    I'd be kicked out of that hearing in about 15 secinds.

  • ||

    My wife just loves your shoes Mr. Secretary Chu.

  • Beloved Rev. Blue Moon||

    Fun Fact: jimmy choo is a woman.

  • ||

    And not the secretary of energy? Wow. learn something new every day.

  • BigT||

    I've considered Chu an incompetent fool from the day of his appointment. Now we learn he is a crook as well. He belongs in prison, getting ass-raped hourly.

  • ||

    Proof of his being a crook is him going to outside counsel for advice. The federal government is crawling with lawyers who practice every specialty there is. There is no reason to go to outside counsel other than you know you are doing something wrong and know the professional legal staff will not cover your ass.

  • Tman||

    And I'm sorry, but I there is NO FUCKING WAY he didn't know that the Bush admin had previously denied the loan.

    I seriously can't believe how full of shit he is.

  • ||

    There are almost never consequences for lying in politics. Big, big, big part of our overall problem.

  • ||

    Solyandra is run by a huge Obama donor. A donor who had had his loan gaurentee turned down by the Bush administration. We are supposed to believe that the donor didn't use his contacts in the White House to get the loan looked at again and those contacts (assuming one of them was not Chu himself) didn't say anything to Chu about this? Whatever.

  • Tman||

    Not only that, but just out of intellectual curiosity wouldn't he have wanted to know why this company had not received any DOE loans before he assumed his position? This was an extremely high profile poster child for the entire "green jobs" campaign.

    I understand that one must not attribute malevolence where stupidity will suffice, but COME ONNNNNN MAN, YOU CAN'T BE SERIOUS!!!!

  • ||

    That is a good point. The President visited Solyandra. Even if Chu hadn't known about it before then, he certainly would have been briefed about it. When the President visits one of your agency's projects, the secretary knows all about it. The President was briefed on Solyandra before he visited. And the information for that briefing was produced by Chu's staff. Cabinet officials know when their boss is speaking about something in their department. What a lying sack of shit this guy is.

  • ||

    He belongs in prison, getting ass-raped hourly.

    That would constitute cruel and unusual punishment to the other inmates doing the raping.

  • Colin||

    Maybe he could share a cell with Sandusky.

  • ||

    talk about Synergy.

  • Spoonman.||

    Prison rape: still not funny when it happens to bad people.

  • ||

    I think it's Barton who has the goods. We'll soon see.

  • ||

    Maybe you are right James. I noticed at lunch CNN is all occutard all the time. Maybe they know Chu is about to be barbequed and want to use the occutard uprising as a way to ignore it.

  • ||

    Nesferatu (AKA Waxman) is desperately trying to bail Chu out. They are breaking for a vote, and Waxman moved to adjourn. Poor Steven has been answering questions for *gasp* 4 hours, and it's just not fair!

    Waxman DOES NOT want Pompeo to have his second shot at Chu.

    Stearns basically just told him to go fuck himself. They'll break for 30 minutes, and promised to let him go no later than 3:30 ET

  • ||

    Stearns knows exactly what his people have left. If it was nothing, he may have agreed to adjourn. My guess is the deepest cut is still to come.

  • ||

    Yeah, and I think Pompeo has been tapped to deliver the coup de grace.

  • ||

    Well, that prediction didn't pan out. Pompeo didn't even get a second turn, as they ran out of time. But Chu got well roasted after the break anyway.

  • Paul||

    1:22: Stearns: Two out of the first 1705 loans failed. How many more, in your opinion, are going to go bad? Chu: Some nuclear power plants are at risk. Varying degrees of risk whenever you invest in high risk innovative companies.

    I fucking knew it. I knew that at some point, the government would adopt the language of venture capitalists on this Solyndra deal.

    So, occupiers-- especially the ones who support Obama's Green Jobs initiative? What say you, do you like your government being the VC of last resort?

  • Brett L||

    I'm fine with this. Just show me the list of winners who returned 2-50x your initial investment when they went public. Oh wait, these a fixed loans. Different risk structure in the private sector for a reason.

  • Paul||

    1:33: Since Markey and other Dems have laid the groundwork for a blame-markets defense, why not go the whole hog and say Chu learned his extralegal business methods from the private sector, during his too-brief stint at Bell Labs (where he did his Nobel-worthy work)?

    What really fucking burns me about this is, Waxman et. al. will continue their "See? Capitalism doesn't work!" tack.

    I hate this, I hate it with every fiber of my being.

    Step one: Create committee to pick winners and losers.

    Step two: When failure eventually happens, adopt language of VC types and talk about "investment risk" when incubating "new, innovative technology".

    Step three: When your ideas and "investment vision" are shown to be utter bullshit, respond with "I know, right? Capitalism doesn't work! MARKET FAILUREZ!11"

  • Library Desk Graffiti||

    Scalise: how many more loans are going under that we should know about?

    Chu: ......uh, can't tell you that in public but we'll show you our "process"

    Scalise: just give me a number. any more than solyndra and beacon?

    Chu: that'll destroy confidentiality agreements with the companies

    FUUUUUUUUU

  • Brett L||

    So we know the answer is more than 1.

  • ||

    Unfortunately, because of the way the snake pit works, we will only know names and numbers whenthey go tits up.

  • Trespassers W||

    He's a scientist, right? They should have asked him whether flash grenades are explosive devices.

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