The Energy Department’s $730 million conditional loan commitment to Severstal, a Russian company led by a multibillionaire, has come under fire from Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
"The government is taking the risk, but getting the short end of the reward," the California Republican told Fox News about the project designed to improve an advanced high-strength steel plant in Dearborn, Michigan.
Severstal is controlled by Alexei Mordashov, a chief executive whose net worth is listed at $18.5 billion by Forbes magazine, and is known to have close ties to the Kremlin.
Issa asked Energy Secretary Steven Chu why taxpayer money is needed when “announcements made by Severstal during the loan consideration process indicated that the company had ample means to carry out the project.”
But the Energy Department says tax dollars have not been spent, and career staffers are still doing their due diligence on the project.
The department also believes the project would support more than 2,500 construction jobs and more than 260 permanent manufacturing jobs in Michigan.
"This project has received bipartisan support because producing the next generation of automotive advanced high strength steel is vital to helping American workers remain competitive," Energy Press Secretary Damien LaVera told Fox News.
But Issa has his questions – especially after the high-profile Solyndra failure cost taxpayers $535 million on a Department of Energy loan guarantee. "The Department of Energy has a number of problems, and under this secretary, these problems have either blossomed or certainly not been fixed," Issa said.
Mike Emanuel currently serves as chief congressional correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC). He joined FNC in 1997 as a Los Angeles-based correspondent.