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There Goes The Sun?

I have been watching with something approaching horror as the Not-So-Great Solyndra Scandal of 2011 starts to occupy more and more of the political conversation. The story first really broke in a Washington Post article. But the short version is that internal emails suggest White House officials tried to rush federal reviewers for a decision on a nearly half-billion-dollar loan to the solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra. Why the press? Because Vice President Biden wanted to announce the approval at a September 2009 groundbreaking for the company’s factory.

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There is precious little to suggest the White House was trying to derail the process entirely, and force a yes out of officials responsible for vetting the loan. But as might be expected, the opportunity to score political points here is too great to let pass up.

Something smells bad about every end of this brewing “scandal” to me. And so I point you all toward this little essay from Micah Gold-Markel, the owner of a solar power distribution company called Solar States. Gold-Markel argues that the problem isn’t that Solyndra received a whopping $500 million loan. The problem is… the loan wasn’t bigger.

It seems the White House was, internally, conflicted over whether or not to keep doling out money to Solyndra before the company finally shut its doors in August. And Gold-Markel paints a portrait that indicts the government as a whole for not doing more to advance the entire solar industry.

“While covering this story from the ‘tax payers stand to lose lots of money’ angle,” writes Gold-Markel, “the majority of media outlets missed the point. This was actually a calculated risk, that could still work! Jonathan Silver, Executive Director of the Energy Department’s Loan Programs Office, said the loan guarantee program is needed to give U.S. companies the kind of low-cost financing that other nations are providing their renewable energy industries.”

Read the rest—here.