What happened to the green President?
In the past, Obama traveled to Michigan to celebrate projects such as the Chevy Volt, green energy and green manufacturing jobs, but on Monday he was in the state campaigning for diesel engines for use in heavy trucks.
“Since 1938, Detroit Diesel has been turning out some of the best engines in the world,” he said, praising Daimler’s decision to add 115 new jobs to the factory. “Soon, you guys will be building all the key parts that go into powering a heavy-duty truck, all at the same facility.”
Obama never even used the word “green,” in his speech and only mentioned “clean energy” and “fuel efficiency” once.
Perhaps the administration is wary of endorsing electric automobile projects that end in bankruptcy.
A-123, one of the president’s favorite “green jobs” projects went bankrupt in October after receiving $249 million in federal funds. The Massachusetts based company was responsible for developing and manufacturing high efficiency batteries for electric cars, and had plants in Michigan, Massachusetts and Missouri.
Chinese auto parts maker Wanxiang recently purchased the company for $256.6 million – but the deal still has to be approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment.
That has put the squeeze on another one of the President’s favorite green projects. Fisker, a luxury electric car company that received a $529-million loan from the federal government, announced that they would halt production of their Fisker Karma – a $100,000 electric car.
“We plan to wait until Wanxiang takes full control of A123, then we will get in contact with them to negotiate a contract,” Fisker spokesman Roger Ormisher told Reuters. The vehicle is manufactured in Finland.
The green automobile boom, it appears, is not panning out as well as the President hoped.
During his speech, Obama hailed lower energy prices, realizing it was now a major factor for the manufacturing resurgence.
“Our energy costs are starting to go down here in the United States,” he stated. “And we still have the largest market. So when you factor in everything, it makes sense to invest here, in America.”
As the Wall Street Journal reported in October, plunging natural gas prices in the United States is attracting more fertilizer and chemical plants as well as aluminum, steel and glass factories.
There is little doubt that the president will continue investing federal funds in green energy and green jobs. But as he begins his second term, perhaps he will save his presidential endorsement for factories that aren’t in danger of bankruptcy.