Solyndra execs’ testimony: silence


Credit: Gigaom, Katie Fehrenbacher

The second hearing on what happened with solar maker Solyndra concluded on Friday morning, and as expected, Solyndra’s CEO and CFO aren’t talking. Right after CEO Brian Harrison and CFO Bill Stover were sworn in, they invoked their fifth amendment rights.

Here’s the video clip:


Ignacio Gonzalez

Thanks for the warm reception Alf and Katie. My opinion is my own and at least I am transparent about what I do for a living. Been following this site for a while, which I think is great, so I suppose a personal attack here and there is bound to happen.


@Ignacio Actually, Katie was given YOU a +1.. not me. So apparently both of you are on the side of PR BS. Personally, I’m sure you are an outstanding human being, but I have a lot of trouble with the fact that you do PR for an industry that since 1980 has spent unknown billions of dollars in a campaign to cast doubt on the SCIENCE of climate change, by funding phoney think-tanks all over the world… and as a result has dramatically increased the probability that society (if not our entire species) will become extinct sometime this century… and you would apparently be a member of that continuing campaign. I assume you are paid well.

Ignacio Gonzalez

Alf, in the interest of continuing the conversation, I personally happen to believe that there is such a thing as climate change, and that our human activity around our current energy and industrial infrastructure creates climate change impacts. I am not a scientist, and thus can tell you with certainty that this is so, but based on my reasonable and limited knowledge, I don’t deny it.

I am also a human being with a sense of dignity and ethics, and a professional in the energy industry, and thus have never earned a dollar “lobbying” against climate change science, nor would I work for an organization that was not truthful or responsible on this front. Shell has been part of a group of energy companies that actually have given up long ago debating climate change, and instead are focusing on advocating for policy that will put a value/cost on carbon emissions and thus enable us to invest on cleaner solutions. As the Solyndra episode shows, it is very hard for any business to compete against the status quo without a level-playing field, and while at the same time that a business has to produce the oil and gas that is needed today. We actually supported climate change legislation in the US in the past couple of years and were part of USCAP in advocating for it, until the politics just killed the issue, as you suggest.

I know this is not what you want to hear, since you might say that it is fine for Shell to do this but if the entire industry is not, then what’s the point. And you are correct, since there are political elements against the notion of climate change caused by human beings. So, I am not trying to change your mind nor do I pretend to take any high ground here.

But, as I said from the beginning, I am just suggesting that things are not black and white, and that there are more people than you think in “the industry” (both “green” and “brown”) who work really hard every day to clean up how we use energy and who would never for a minute think of themselves as part of the political game that is going on about energy. So, hopefully in the future we’ll just stop jumping to conclusions about each other and instead try and learn and understand what really is happening and how to work towards solutions.

Ignacio Gonzalez

I think that as long as we continue to tell ourselves the ridiculous story that green energy is liberal and “dirty” energy is conservative, we’re never going to get to the point of tackling energy as a solution instead of a political and ideological debate exercise. While I understand that Congress basically votes for whatever is on each Senators/Representatives’s ground (wind, oil, coal, gas, solar, etc), we’re never going to rise above that for a strategic policy that recognizes that, right now, we need every form of energy and a plan to get us to the point where we’re happy with a specific mix of energy whether for sustainability reasons or energy security issues. But, to be name calling in this area just doesn’t help at all.


@Ignacio I read your comment and thought “this sounds like an oil company lobbyist”, so I click on your name to find out that you work for Shell Oil in PR doing “reputation management”. IOW, you get paid to distribute BS for the Fossil Fuel Industry, and this comment is a product of that. Nice Gig!!


“Cons understand post-truth politics…” “[someone] doth protest too much, methinks.”

I believe it is common for the party not in power to actuate political investigation of their opponents failures. I believe the libs have had their share with the cons

1973-1974 (The Watergate Committee)Chairman: Samuel Ervin (D-NC) vs. Nixon (R)
1975 CIA intelligence gathering (Church Committee)Chairman: Frank F. Church (D-ID) vs. Ford (R)
1987-1989 (Iran-Contra Hearings) Chairman: Daniel Inouye (D-HI) vs. Reagan (R)

It is regrettable that alternative energies will get a black eye out of this. It is regrettable that any party be known for its ability to succeed politically through scandal mongering. But when you give your opponent a slow pitch right down the middle of the plate can you really blame them for hammering a homer over the left field wall?


@Bob You are agreeing with me at some level. Both sides are playing the same game, but the other side is the Harlem Globetrotters and we are the Washington Generals, and it is embarrassing.
Also, I’m thinking Sam Ervin was an amazing American with contributions that went far beyond the Watergate hearings. On the other hand, the house republicans on the committee in question, are well… Republican stooges.


@katie This is from David Robert’s Blog, but I thought about this website when I read the last 2 sentences.

For a mix of financial and ideological reasons, U.S. conservative movement activists, operators, and politicos hate clean energy. They don’t believe in climate change, they love fossil fuels and fossil-fuel campaign donations, and they think, or want the U.S. public to think, that clean energy is weak, unreliable, marginal, and dependent on government subsidies. They have been trying to make that case for a long while.

What Solyndra gives them is a symbol, something to use as a stand-in to discredit not just the DOE loan program, but all government support for clean energy and indeed clean energy itself.

Watching this unfold over the last week, I keep thinking back to “Climategate.” When it first broke back in late 2009, lefties and bloggers and Dem lawmakers just ignored it, because it was obviously dumb. This left the field entirely open to a massive attack from the right, coordinated among ideological media, staffers, lobbyists, and pols. When the left finally stirred itself to action, all that emerged were a bunch of long, boring investigations into the details and good-faith efforts to be fair about how both sides a point. By the time five separate investigations had cleared the scientists of all wrongdoing, the damage was done. Now we’re seeing the same script play out again.

Cons understand post-truth politics. They understand that truth is utterly inert in an era when mainstream institutions are viewed with hostility and skepticism, the media is fractured, and there are no shared norms or referees to enforce them. The side that wins is the side that plays to its audience’s existing preconceptions with a simple message repeated over and over and over again in multiple venues.

That’s what is happening now around Solyndra. The right is going after this whole hog, trying to make the name synonymous with clean energy boondoggle. And the left is flailing around, throwing out this fact and that fact with no coherent message. Lord am I tired of watching this script play out.

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