The latest taxpayer-funded boondoggle to emerge from the Obama Administration's infamous Energy Department grant and loan program has cost taxpayers $118.5 million
, new bankruptcy filings by electric battery maker Ener1 reveal.
From Bloomberg News:
The company listed assets of $73.9 million and debt of $90.5 million as of Dec. 31 in Chapter 11 papers filed today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan. Ener1 has been affected by competing battery developers in China and South Korea, “which generally have a lower cost manufacturing base” and lower labor and raw material costs, interim Chief Executive Officer Alex Sorokin said in the petition.
Like Solyndra, Ener1 was a company touted by President Obama as being a shining example of his vision for taxpayer-subsidized clean energy.
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The day following President Barack Obama's 2011 State of the Union Address, Vice President Joe Biden toured Ener1's lithium-ion battery system manufacturing facility in Greenfield, Indiana and said
As you heard President Obama say last night, this Administration is forging a new path forward by making sure America doesn't just lead in the 21st Century, but dominates in the 21st Century. We're not just creating new jobs-but sparking whole new industries that will ensure our competitiveness for decades to come-industries like electric vehicle manufacturing.
Ener1's EnerDel unit, which is based in Indianapolis, Indiana, likewise received a Solyndra-style shout out from Mr. Obama during a 2009 swing through Indiana. During his remarks
, Mr. Obama said:
See, I'm committed to a strategy that ensures America leads in the design and the deployment of the next generation of clean-energy vehicles. This is not just an investment to produce vehicles today; this is an investment in our capacity to develop new technologies tomorrow. This is about creating the infrastructure of innovation.
Indiana is the second largest recipient of grant funding, and it's a perfect example of what this will mean. You've got Purdue University, Notre Dame, Indiana University, and Ivy Tech, and they're all going to be receiving grant funding to develop degree and training programs for electric vehicles. That's number one. We've got EnerDel, a small business in Indianapolis that will develop batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles.
Now, in the wake of the Dec. 31st bankruptcy filing, Mr. Obama used his 2012 State of the Union Address to make it clear he intends to double down, not reverse course, from his decision to use taxpayer dollars to prop up clean energy companies that are too weak to compete and thrive on their own:
Payoffs on these public investments don’t always come right away. Some technologies don’t pan out; some companies fail. But I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy.
Illustration by Oliver Munday for Newsweek
Still, charges of crony capitalism haven't deterred Mr. Obama. Quite the opposite. In a speech on Thursday at Buckley Air Force Base, Mr. Obama said he was literally "doubling down"
on his ill-fated clean energy policy:
We’re not going to cede the wind industry or the solar industry or the battery industry to China or Germany because we’re too timid to make that same commitment here in the United States. We’ve subsidized oil for a very long time, long enough. It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that’s never been more profitable. We’ve got to double down on a clean-energy industry that’s never been more promising.
Under the Bush Administration, Ener1 also received
a $4 million Defense Department research and development contract.