Senator Was Not Always Critical of Loan Program

By MATTHEW DALY | September 19, 2011 | 4:25 AM EDT

FILE - In a file photo dated Oct. 6, 2010, workers man a control bank at Solyndra's solar panel factory on in Fremont, Calif. The Silicon Valley company was the first renewable-energy company to receive a loan guarantee under the stimulus law, and the Obama administration frequently touted Solyndra as a model for its clean energy program. President Barack Obama visited the company's headquarters last year.(AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. David Vitter says the Obama administration was "reckless" as it awarded billions of dollars in subsidies for renewable energy projects, including a $528 million loan to Solyndra Inc., a now-bankrupt California solar panel maker. But Vitter was not always so critical of the loan program.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show the Louisiana senator has written to the Energy Department at least seven times since 2009 seeking money for projects that would benefit his home state of Louisiana.

One of the Vitter-backed projects, a company that makes activated carbon to reduce pollution at coal-fired power plants, has received preliminary approval for a $245 million loan guarantee. The project has not yet received any money.