Republican Senator Accuses Biden Energy Loan Czar of Misleading Congress Over Funding to Company ‘On Brink of Collapse’

Jigar Shah oversaw $375 million funding to company that halted work this week

Biden energy official Jigar Shah (
October 26, 2023

A top Republican senator accused President Joe Biden’s energy loan czar Jigar Shah of misleading Congress about Shah’s influence over funding decisions, including a $375 million loan to a company that is "on the brink of collapse."

Shah, the director of the Department of Energy’s $400 billion Loan Programs Office, told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources last week that he had "no role to play whatsoever" in deciding which companies received loans from his office.

This contradicts a recent profile of Shah in the Wall Street Journal, which described Shah as "Joe Biden’s $400 billion man" and reported that he actively courted specific companies to the loan program, according to Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), the ranking Republican on the committee.

"Before the committee on October 19, 2023, you made it a point to underplay your involvement and influence in the LPO, suggesting a minimal or sideline role," wrote Barrasso in a letter to Shah on Thursday. "The article clearly indicates that you have been instrumental in the process of giving loans to companies you personally identify."

The letter comes as Shah has come under scrutiny from Congress for his close relationship with the Cleantech Leaders Roundtable, a trade group he founded before joining the Biden administration three years ago. Shah has attended at least 10 paid dinners and events for companies and loan-seekers hosted by Cleantech Leaders since 2022, the Washington Free Beacon reported earlier this month.

Barrasso said he was concerned about a $375 million loan that Shah’s office approved to Li-Cycle, a lithium battery company that is facing financial difficulties. Shah persuaded Li-Cycle’s CEO to take the federal loan to build a battery facility, despite the executive’s uneasiness about the repayment timeline, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Li-Cycle announced this week that it halted construction on the plant due to budgetary issues. The company participated in a paid conference earlier this month co-hosted by Shah’s office and Cleantech Leaders Roundtable.

"It is now clear that you personally recruited and facilitated a federally backed loan of $375 million to a company that is on the brink of collapse," wrote Barrasso. "The bad judgment of pushing for a taxpayer back loan to a company with a huge risk profile demonstrates the lack of internal controls in your loan making process."

In congressional testimony last week, Shah downplayed his influence as director of the LPO, a once-small office at the Department of Energy that has become a powerful dispenser of $400 billion in federal energy loans under the Biden administration.

Shah said attendees at his Cleantech Roundtable speaking events—which cost up to $250-a-person to attend—are "not paying to see me. I’m not that important."

Barrasso questioned this claim in his letter.

"These actions don’t align with someone in a minor, peripheral role, but rather with someone who wields significant influence and actively exercises that," he wrote.

Barrasso asked Shah to "provide clarity on your role and influence within the LPO" and to explain LPO’s loan decision-making process. He also asked Shah to respond to a previous joint letter with House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, requesting records on LPO’s relationship with Cleantech Leaders by Nov. 8.