Rep. Blackburn: We Should End All of These Programs

Tennessee congresswoman reacts to Beacon Power's Chapter 11 filing


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," October 31, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

STUART VARNEY, GUEST HOST: Well, from one controversy to another.

In the wake of the Solyndra scandal, yet another taxpayer-supported energy company going belly up, so you lose again. This time, it is an energy storage company. It’s called Beacon Power. Beacon filing for bankruptcy after getting a $43 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.

To Congresswoman -- to Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, who serves on the House Energy Committee.

Am I right? Is this exactly the same kind of thing as Solyndra, bigger numbers with Solyndra, but the same kind of thing?

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN, R-TENN.: Well, it is the same kind of thing, Stuart.

And so interesting it is to note that Solyndra was the first to get a loan and Beacon Power is the second to have gotten a loan under this program. And it is exactly the reason I have said, look, let’s get into this guarantee program and pull all 28 of these companies that have received these loans.

Let’s go back through the vetting process and let’s see where this went wrong, where it got off tracks. And I am one that believes we should end all of these subsidies programs. It’s time. We don’t have the money. Let’s get past in.

VARNEY: The Energy Department has issued a statement on this latest - - this bankruptcy, and this is what the Department of Energy told us today about the Beacon Power bankruptcy.

And I’m going to just quote directly: "Protecting taxpayer dollars remains the top priority for Secretary Chu and the department, which is why we were careful to include many protections for the taxpayer in the loan guarantee for the Beacon Power’s Stephentown project."

What guarantees are they talking about? It seems to me that we have lost -- the taxpayers have lost money.

BLACKBURN: Well, you are correct on that.

And we do know that there are $72 million in assets and $49 million in debt on the Beacon Power project. We know the federal government will recoup a large part of the money. But here, again, you know, we will have to go through a wait-and-see of selling assets. And if there were other precautions that were put in place on this loan that were not put in place on Solyndra, then that definitely is going to lead us to further questions.

Of course, we know this week at our hearing with Susan Richardson, who is legal counsel for Department of Energy, we will be able to find out a little bit why she chose to subordinate the American people in that Solyndra loan.

VARNEY: You cannot really do much about this. The money has been committed to a whole raft of green energy companies. The money is out there. It is being committed. You cannot really take it back, can you?

BLACKBURN: I think that there are some things that we can put in place going forward, maybe some watchfulness, if you will, to make certain that we...

VARNEY: But the money is out there. You can’t the money back, can you? It’s there.

BLACKBURN: The money is out there. It is out the door. That is right.


BLACKBURN: But I think that there again these companies need to know that we are holding them accountable and that we are not going to let them off the hook. Their boards and their investors need to know this.

VARNEY: It just worries me and I’m sure our viewers that we are losing money here and you can’t get the money back.

BLACKBURN: Yes, you’re correct.

VARNEY: You cannot do anything about it. I am sorry to raise this issue, Congresswoman Blackburn, but it reminds me of the incandescent light bulbs, you know?


VARNEY: You and I, we were together on wanting to keep the 100-watt bulb. We lost. You lost. You can’t do anything about it. It is gone as of January the 1st.

(CROSSTALK) BLACKBURN: We have got a one-year reprieve. We have got a one-year reprieve on that. And hopefully, by defunding some, we can do that.

Stuart, what we don’t want is the federal government micromanaging all these alternative energy programs and ideas. If they are good ideas, take them to the marketplace. Secure your investors. Then make it a profitable venture. But we know the best energy policy for the United States is going to be drill here, drill now.

VARNEY: Would a Republican administration end the idea that the government can pick winners and end putting public money into private companies? Would you stop that, flat-out?

BLACKBURN: My hope is that not only a Republican administration, but that we will have a Republican-controlled Senate that will agree with the Republican-controlled House of Representatives that the time has come to end these subsidies and having the federal government trying to micromanage and pick winners and losers.

VARNEY: OK. Congresswoman Blackburn, I am glad you got us a one-year extension on the incandescent light bulb, because...

BLACKBURN: That’s right. We are still fighting to keep the light bulb of our choice.

VARNEY: OK. Thank you very much for being with us. Always a pleasure.

BLACKBURN: Thank you, Stuart.

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