U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on a vehicle technology walking tour of FEV in Auburn Hills | Laina G. Stebbins
Updated, 7:40 p.m. 8/5/21
Former Michigan governor-turned-U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm made her return to Michigan Thursday with a sweeping four-stop visit to highlight President Joe Biden’s new national target for electric vehicle sales.
Granholm was first joined by U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) for a walking tour of an electronic manufacturing facility in Holly. U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills) then joined the secretary for the next two stops — a roundtable at Oakland University about supply chain development, followed by a vehicle technology walking tour at FEV in Auburn Hills.
Granholm had a final walking tour at Factory Zero at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck assembly center alongside U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) and Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield).
Biden had announced a new goal earlier Thursday via executive order to make 50% of all new vehicles electric by 2030, which includes plans to invest $6 billion in electric battery development and manufacturing and build 500,000 new electric vehicle charging stations.
The plan is part of the Biden administration’s overall goal of achieving a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.
As governor from 2003 to 2010, Granholm championed clean energy as both a way to recoup lost manufacturing jobs during the state’s decade-long recession as the domestic auto industry almost collapsed, and to protect the environment.
“It’s really exciting,” she said at the FEV event. “… This is why moving to clean energy will create all kinds of jobs for all kinds of people in all pockets of America.”
Biden’s electric vehicles goal quickly garnered the support of the Big Three automakers, clean fuel advocates and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who said it “will bolster the automotive industry in Michigan and across the United States by accelerating innovation and manufacturing while prioritizing the importance of combating climate change.
“Paired with the President’s ambitious infrastructure plans, today’s executive order will ensure we continue to lead the world on mobility and electrification while highlighting the need to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure here in Michigan and across the United States,” Whitmer said, adding that Biden’s action highlights the ability to fight climate change while simultaneously boosting job growth.
Biden’s in-person announcement earlier on Thursday included five electric vehicles parked on the White House’s south lawn. Attendees included U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg; U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) and Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.); and U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) and Dan Kildee (D-Flint).
The Ecology Center lauded the plan as a “big step in the right direction,” but said more should be done to strengthen the goal.
“This announcement, combined with critical infrastructure investments in electric vehicle production and charging stations being proposed at both the federal and state level, will go a long way toward putting us on a path to address the climate challenge,” ” said Charles Griffith, climate and energy program director for the Ecology Center.
“However, the proposed standards must not be watered down and even stronger, long-term emission standards will be needed to get us the rest of the way. This is why it’s so critical that Michigan automakers are leading the electrification of the auto industry, and that Michigan policymakers support additional policies to accelerate and take advantage of this transition.”
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