The Republican House Appropriations Committee is working on a $24.3-billion spending bill, with $1.5 billion earmarked to help the smoldering west. But in this cash-strapped environment, where will the funds come from? The answer, despite previous reports, is the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program, which was approved for $25 billion by Congress in 2008.
With funds managed by the Department of Energy, the ATVM program was meant to spark production of high-mileage and alternative-energy vehicles in the US auto industry. Tesla, along with efforts from Ford and Nissan, have been the only notable successes in a sea of failures.
The high-profile collapse of Fisker, and a certain gun-shy attitude after the Solyndra fiasco, has seemingly led to a lack of loans from the fund. With over $25 billion promised, the DOE has only doled about a bit less than $9 billion, having rejected over 100 companies' requests for funds. As The Detroit News points out, there also haven't been any new loans in two years.