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Congressman Stearns criticizes Obama on green jobs, takes green funds

Though Congressman Cliff Stearns, R-Ocala, is criticizing President Obama’s push for green jobs, the Florida lawmaker was happy to welcome a federally funded green jobs effort in his own district last year. When Saft America Inc. opened its lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant at Cecil Commerce Center in Jacksonville in 2010, Stearns lauded the company for bringing jobs to the area.e

“I am honored to join in welcoming Saft’s Li-ion battery manufacturing facility to the Cecil Commerce Center, which underscores that this is a good place to do business. In addition, as a member of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, I recognize the contributions of these advanced rechargeable batteries in meeting our energy needs,” Stearns said at the groundbreaking.

As pointed out by a recent article in E&E News, ”nearly half the cash for the new Saft America Inc. facility was provided through a cost-sharing arrangement funded through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act” — a stimulus program that Stearns has campaigned against.

The E&E article, which is worth reading in full, goes on to explore Stearns’ inconsistency in opposing the Obama administration’s use of stimulus funds to support green jobs. Stearns is currently heading a House Energy and Commerce Committee investigation into Solyndra, a bankrupt solar energy company that received more than $500 million in stimulus money through a Department of Energy loan program. Some worry that Republicans are using Solyndra as evidence of failed stimulus funds, just as Obama is rolling out a new jobs plan.

On Tuesday, Stearns said that the president’s efforts to create green technology is “suspect” during a meeting of Department of Energy and Office of Management and Budget officials. Following a Wednesday committee meeting, Stearns took it a step further: “I see no reason for the taxpayers to have any confidence that these funds could be spent wisely and it should be returned to the Treasury to reduce our debt.”

Today, the Saft facility is set to host its grand opening. Though Stearns was invited, it is unlikely he will be attending. When asked about the Saft grant, he reportedly said he has “no opinion on it right now.”

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