Court revives case alleging energy loan ‘cronyism’

Court revives case alleging energy loan ‘cronyism’
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A federal appeals court Friday revived a lawsuit from a battery maker who accused the Department of Energy (DOE) of “cronyism” in a loan decision.

The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered that a lower court reconsider Limnia Inc.’s lawsuit against the DOE, saying that the lower court should not have effectively dismissed the case by allowing the DOE to reconsider the company’s application.

At issue is a 2009 application by Limnia for a vehicle technology loan. The company makes batteries for electric cars.

The DOE rejected the loan application, saying that it didn’t meet the requirements and the company didn’t pay the proper fee. Limnia sued in the District Court for the District of Columbia, claiming that the rejection was based on “cronyism” and politics, not the merits of the application.

The DOE asked the district court to remand the case back to the agency so that Limnia could apply again for a loan and officials could reconsider the issues, and the district court complied last year.

But the D.C. Circuit Court said Friday that the district court acted improperly, because it did not order the DOE to reconsider the 2009 application.

“A voluntary remand is typically appropriate only when the agency intends to revisit the challenged agency decision on review,” Judge Brett Kavanaugh, nominated to the court by President George W. Bush, wrote for the three judges who heard the case. “That prerequisite was not met in this case.”

Kavanaugh’s opinion did not get into the merits of Limnia’s application or its original lawsuit. It instead instructed the lower court to take up the case again.