DOE pushes back against GOP energy stimulus jobs creation report

On top of that, the jobs numbers Thune and Grassley used from Recovery.gov account mainly for direct labor and equipment costs for constructing or reconfiguring manufacturing facilities, DOE said.

A fuller picture of the program’s jobs impact would factor benefits to the supply chain and full-time jobs added by firms as a result facility construction, the DOE official said.

An aide to Grassley said the report was based on information provided to the senator by the Energy Department.

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Thune and Grassley contended that many of the jobs the program did create — such as construction — were likely temporary, adding that DOE did not track job retention rates.

A spokesman for the Energy Department defended the battery investments and said they are “helping the United States compete in a fiercely competitive global market.” 

“Our investments, often made with support of bipartisan congressional support, are bolstering the growth of American companies, are spurring the transition to more fuel-efficient vehicles, and helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil," DOE spokesman Bill Gibbons said.

The senators also noted that A123 Systems, a Waltham, Mass.-based battery maker that received a $249 million grant from the program in 2009, filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this month.

But A123 is likely to be purchased — differentiating it from other Energy stimulus blunders. Milwaukee, Wis.-based battery firm Johnson Controls Inc. is battling Chinese automaker Wanxiang Group in a bidding war for A123’s assets.

Still, Republicans and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney have tried to turn A123’s struggles into another clean energy albatross for President Obama.

That a Chinese firm is proving a more attractive suitor for A123’s remaining assets by offering $465 million for a full-fledged buyout — Johnson Controls wants only A123’s car battery business for $125 million — would likely inflame criticisms of green energy stimulus funding.

Obama has stayed the clean-energy course on the campaign trail. He calls federal backing for clean energy necessary to keep domestic firms competitive in the international market.

This post was last updated at 5:39 p.m.