Michigan Governor Proposes Clean Energy & Jobs 'Moon Shot'


Photo: twicepix via Flickr/CC BY-SA

Jennifer Granholm, the governor of Michigan, has an op-ed in Politico today outlining her proposal to grow millions of clean energy jobs in the US. And she has some credibility -- her state, arguably the worst hit by the recession, is climbing back thanks largely to a jobs program that focused on developing and manufacturing batteries for electric cars. The program has brought tens of thousands of good, permanent jobs to the state, and she argues a larger scale program could have the same effect in Washington. Here's her pitch in Politico:

As last week's jobs numbers reminded us, emerging from the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression isn't going to be easy. We need to be creative and daring. We need a moon shot -- a Jobs Race to the Top. The goal: Create 3 million jobs in three years.

It's doable with an aggressive strategy. In Michigan, we are trying our own version of this race -- focused on the lithium-ion advanced battery for electric cars, a high-tech product previously manufactured almost exclusively in Asia. We offered irresistible state tax incentives for manufacturers of "advanced energy storage." We pancaked our state incentives on top of the competitive federal Department of Energy grants to advanced-battery companies and suppliers. We also created robust public-private partnerships.

In just over a year, we have attracted 18 domestic and international companies, which are projected to create 63,000 private-sector jobs in Michigan. With breathtaking speed, we built an entire advanced-battery "ecosystem" for the purpose of electrifying the automobile. If the states are the laboratories of democracy, Washington can take a lesson from what is happening in Michigan.

Of course, plenty of folks have been making the case that we need a clean energy 'moon shot' for years. And it's a great idea -- we could stimulate job growth while fostering the conditions necessary to see major breakthroughs in clean energy technologies, all while catching up with foreign markets that have long surpassed us in the sector. And Granholm's approach does have some novel elements, like the Race to the Top-esque structure and a foundation on private-public partnerships.

But just about every effort to bolster the clean energy on the federal level has been shot down over the last year -- there will be no renewable energy standard, and certainly no comprehensive climate legislation. The Obama administration couldn't even peel away the tens of billions of dollars it sends to the oil companies in subsidies, like it said it planned to. So, forgive me for being a tad cynical about the prospect of seeing a national clean energy jobs moon shot anytime soon. It is, like I said, nonetheless a great idea -- if only certain members of Congress would listen.

More on a Clean Energy Moon Shot
Al Gore: New ' Moon Shot ' Needed to Solve Climate Crisis
Interior Secretary, Too, Says We Need a Energy ' Moon Shot
98% of Scientists' Clean Energy Research Proposals Rejected

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