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Make James Madison Proud

In the spirit of Sunshine Week -a national initiative this week focusing on open government and freedom of information- Public Citizen and its allies send a letter to the Department of Energy (DOE) demanding the agency fulfill President Obama’s promise of government transparency and disclose information about a controversial $51 billion loan guarantee program.

Having access to information about the program is critical because under the program, the government uses taxpayer money to back new nuclear reactors, as well as uranium enrichment, coal, and renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. If a project defaults, taxpayers pay back the loan. That means -these guarantees could expose taxpayers to tens of billions of dollars in default risk; yet DOE’s lack of transparency regarding this program means that taxpayers will have little, if any, ability to evaluate the feasibility of the projects they are being asked to underwrite.

Sunshine Week offers the perfect opportunity to urge DOE to shed light on the loan guarantee program. We are asking DOE to post on its website meaningful information about its criteria and processes for approving and issuing taxpayer-backed loan guarantees.

James Madison recognized the importance of citizens’ ability to know what their government is up to – “A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both.”  If you’d like to take a moment to honor Madison by reminding the Department of Energy about our right to information, click here.

Allison Fisher is the Energy Organizer at Public Citizen