A South Korean corporation's U.S. subsidiary got a $151 million economic stimulus grant in 2009 to make advanced lithium ion batteries for electric cars and trucks, but the money is gone and the firm has little to show for it, according to the Department of Energy's Inspector-General.
LG Chem Michigan has produced test battery cells but has yet to produce units suitable for use in EVs, according to the IG's report. Virtually all of the federal grant has been spent, but the firm has constructed only 60 percent of the production capacity it promised to build.
There has been no transfer of jobs from the firm's South Korean facilities and fewer than half of the new jobs promised to be created have been in Michigan, according to the report.
The IG report also confirmed previous media reports, including this one by The Washington Examiner, that many employees were given virtually nothing to do, so they sat around watching movies, playing card and video games, and talking on their telephones. Many of the same employees also used their LG Chem work hours to perform local volunteer work.
The problems found by the IG were caused by the fact that "LG Chem Michigan did not fully realize the grant's target goals, and the Department did not always take sufficient action to ensure adequate oversight of project progress and, in turn, protect the taxpayers $142 million investment in the project," the report said.
The report also said government officials made the grant with the expectation that jobs in South Korea would be moved to America, but did so without incorporating the transfer into the terms of the grant.
House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith, R-TX, said "it is an outrage that American taxpayer dollars were given to a company that failed to reach basic project goals and paid employees to watch movies and play board games during work hours. Unfortunately, this is not the first time we've seen this kind of waste and abuse from the Obama administration's green jobs grant program."