Senior Republican knocks aid to Al Gore-backed green companies

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) is questioning Obama administration financial support for green energy companies in former Vice President Al Gore’s portfolio, calling it part of a “disturbing pattern.”

Upton is quoted in a Washington Post story on Gore’s success as an investor in green technology companies, which the Post reports has helped boost Gore’s wealth to an estimated $100 million.

{mosads}The Post reports that 14 green tech companies that Gore invested in directly or indirectly have “benefited from more than $2.5 billion in loans, grants and tax breaks, part of President Obama’s historic push to seed a U.S. renewable-energy industry with public money.”

Upton, a frequent critic of federal green energy support, calls the aid “reflective of a disturbing pattern that those closest to the president have been rewarded with billions of taxpayer dollars . . . and benefited from the administration’s green bonanza in the rush to spend stimulus cash.”

A spokeswoman for Gore told the Post that the former vice president didn’t ask for administration support for any companies he has invested in.

“For almost 40 years, he has consistently advocated for the rapid deployment of renewable energy and other sustainability technologies,” spokeswoman Betsy McManus said. “His investments are consistent with his beliefs.” Gore is among the world’s most prominent advocates for battling climate change.

The White House and other Obama administration officials have consistently said that financial aid decisions are made on the merits by career staff, comments repeated in the Post feature.

“Department of Energy officials have noted that many of the funds that went to companies Gore invested in were available to all eligible firms, and some had won funding from the Bush administration,” the Post story states.

Upton and his GOP committee lieutenants have been leading critics of the Energy Department loan guarantee program that backed the failed solar company Solyndra (which is not one of the Gore-backed companies).

His committee’s lengthy probe unearthed information that’s politically embarrassing for the White House, such as internal emails showing pressure to complete the deal despite administration concerns. 

A separate inquiry by the Treasury Department’s inspector general similarly showed “rushed” consultations between Energy Department officials eager to complete the deal and Treasury.

However, the House Republicans’ probe failed to substantiate frequent GOP allegations that the Solyndra financing was a political payoff for an Obama campaign bundler.

The new Post story is a lengthy feature that charts Gore’s green tech investment career after he lost the close race for the presidency in 2000. Click here to read the whole thing.

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