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Editorial: Put More Energy Into U.S. Loan Program

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The capital “e” in U.S. Energy Department apparently doesn’t stand for efficiency.

A recent audit of the department by the Government Accountability Office found mismanaged oversight of $34 billion in taxpayer-backed loans for green energy and other projects.

Timely isn’t in the department’s lexicon either.

The audit says it took staff more than three months to come up with data on the status of loan applications. That led auditors to question whether the loan program is timely or fair to companies seeking loans. Auditors said the companies can’t always count on projects being fairly evaluated and some projects could be approved without adequate vetting.

The program came under criticism for questionable loans made to several solar startups. Remember Solyndra, the California firm that received a $535 million loan guarantee in 2009? Much lauded by President Obama at the time, it subsequently filed for bankruptcy.

The department should tighten up its act. Taxpayers do not like to be left holding the bag when a lack of oversight leads to shaky ventures defaulting and potentially worthwhile ventures sidelined by bureaucratic incompetence.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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