Just as President Obama toured Solyndra LLC before that taxpayer-funded company declared bankruptcy, so Vice President Joe Biden gave a speech at Ener1, an electric car battery company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy today despite $118.5 million in stimulus money from the Department of Energy (DOE).
"We know what's coming -- you don't have to be a fortune-teller to see where the automobile industry has to go," Biden told Ener1 employees last year. "So why not? Why not have it made in America? That's why we went out there and came up with $2.4 billion for battery technology."
House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., recalled Biden's visit and the failures of Solyndra and Beacon Power earlier this year. "One bankruptcy may be a fluke, two could be coincidence, but three is a trend," Stearns said in a statement today. "Our investigation continues, and we are working to ensure taxpayers never are never again stuck paying hundreds of millions of dollars because of the administration’s risky bets.”
Biden seemed to acknowledge that the administration was taking a gamble on ENER1. "We know sometimes, when you're looking for breakthroughs, where you got to take a new chance, businesses aren't always ready to roll the dice," he told the company employees. "We're providing seed money, [a] one-time deposit, man, so we can spur additional investment."
Biden predicted that "there's going to be a thousand people" working at this facility by the end of the year."