Science & Nature

What Tesla has to do with the Solyndra loan scandal

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A little over a decade ago, Solyndra was the hottest thing in solar power. Solyndra was so exciting that then-President Barack Obama, who was trying to create green jobs while pulling the country out of the financial crisis, decided to give the company a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.

Within two years, Solyndra was bankrupt, out-competed by cheaper solar panels coming from China. Republicans launched a big Congressional investigation, and the FBI raided the company’s headquarters to find out where all the money had gone. Mitt Romney even went to Solyndra headquarters in Fremont, California, to make a speech decrying government waste for his 2012 campaign.

Solyndra, Republicans said, was the perfect example of everything that was totally wrong with Obama’s plan to boost clean energy with government-issued loans. But what about the rest of the loans the Obama administration gave out? And what should the purpose of such a loan program even be? Reporter Shannon Osaka crunches the Department of Energy’s numbers and answers what really happened to the government’s green loan program.

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