published Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Former Michigan Gov. challenges Chattanooga to embrace green jobs

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, right, talks with local officials and business leaders as Tennessee Sen. Bo Watson-R, looks on with Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Ray Boeman Tuesday at Green Spaces. Granholm urged support for clean energy, electric vehicles and energy independence.
Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, right, talks with local officials and business leaders as Tennessee Sen. Bo Watson-R, looks on with Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Ray Boeman Tuesday at Green Spaces. Granholm urged support for clean energy, electric vehicles and energy independence.
Photo by Tim Barber.

The cost of foreign oil is hurting U.S. manufacturing, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm told a group of business, energy and political leaders today.

“We spend $1 billion a day sending money to countries that don’t necessarily have our best interests at heart,” said Granholm, who currently works as senior advisor to the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Clean Energy Program.

While global investment in clean energy has risen 630 percent since 2004, the U.S. has begun to lag behind, she claimed, and needs to catch up to countries like Germany and China.

“People who think [green jobs] are going to China because of the low wages there are wrong,” she said. “Germany has high wages. It’s because of policy.”

Jeff Cannon, executive director of Green Spaces, where the event was hosted, called for a “carrot and stick” approach, where business is rewarded for green behavior and punished for behavior that is energy inefficient.

But federal, state and local governments have little money to spend on carrots such as green subsidies, and business leaders have already decried efforts by the EPA to push through environmental rules left undone by Congress, such as cap and trade.

“For a business, it has to be cost-effective,” said Wejun Robinson, general manager for Top Flight. “You can’t do solar on your own; you’ve got to have the grant money or the pay out takes 15 years.”

In the meantime, corporations like Mohawk Industries have trained their employees to recycle and save energy by turning out the lights, but consumer apathy toward green products hasn’t helped sales, said Bill Kilbride, president of Mohawk Industries’ Mohawk Home division.

“We run it by the retailers, but they’re not interested in paying more for recycled products,” he said.

Any reform of the energy system will therefore take efforts to educate the public about the benefits of being green, said Tim Spires, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association.

“A lot of it is about education,” Spires said. “In general, manufacturing is interested in being energy effecient, but the customer has to be there.”

Read more in Wednesday’s Times Free Press.

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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Facts said...

How perfect. A socialist tree hugger who wants clean energy, just not nuclear. Then you have a state senator craning to make sure he gets yet another photo op. And we clap wildly...we deserve the mess we have.

June 21, 2011 at 12:40 p.m.
patriot1 said...

Look...Granny Granholm....why don't you pack your carpet bags and find I-75 north and stay on it.

June 21, 2011 at 12:40 p.m.
nucanuck said...

Right on, Facts...

Who cares about planetary health as long as we get what we want, NOW!

June 21, 2011 at 1:27 p.m.
Rivieravol said...

That's all we need, someone from Michigan to tell us how to improve our economy!

June 21, 2011 at 2:13 p.m.
Leaf said...

Right on, Rivieravol! That's like letting someone from Chattanooga tell us how to run our schools. Oh, wait. . .

PS. "Facts," There was nothing in this article about nuclear at all.

June 21, 2011 at 2:56 p.m.
Rivieravol said...

Good one Leaf, obviously you are a product of the Detroit Public School system. A little advice if you don't like it here, take I-24 to I-75 north and in about 12 hours or so you will be back in that cesspool called Michigan.

June 21, 2011 at 6:09 p.m.
rick1 said...

Look at Granholm's record as Michigan's Gov. She signed the biggest tax increase in Michigans history, in 2009 Michigan had an unemployment rate of 15.% For every family that has moved into Michigan since 2007, two have sold their homes and left.

June 21, 2011 at 7:43 p.m.
NoMyth said...

The unions killed Michigan, not Granholm. The real story here, which the TimesFreePress is incapable of researching, is....who paid for Granholm to show up in Tennessee and who are the clowns that gave her an audience?

June 21, 2011 at 8:52 p.m.
Facts said...

"There was nothing in this article about nuclear at all."

EXACTLY!!! Let's have "clean" energy, but refuse to include nuclear as almost emissions free. Any talk of renewables or clean energy without nuclear energy is dishonest.

Regarding planetary health, I'm for it. Do you propose eliminating rain clouds and any cattle, the key producers of carbon, not human sources.

We need effective energy policy, not activism that cripples our economy....uh, like right now.

June 21, 2011 at 8:55 p.m.
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