Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm's last state of the state address brought up some all too familiar statistics. Statistics such as, over the past decade, Michigan has lost over one million manufacturing jobs; or the fact that fifty in state manufacturing suppliers of the automotive industry have gone bankrupt.
Yes, in actuality these facts are quite depressing, but the silver lining to our state misfortunes was to turn lemons into lemonades, so to speak. The idea that just as we gave birth to the automobile industry we could also aspire to be the green manufacturing capital of the country. Boasting that Michigan is second to none in manufacturing labor, engineering and infrastructure is a legitimate argument. And with a president that is “green focused”, our hopes for this transformation is realistic with the assistance of major funds allocated through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus package.
But recently, there has been discouraging facts revealing where our “green” stimulus money is going, and it appears that unless something is changed, our hopes could essentially be nothing but pipe dreams.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, approximately 90 percent of wind energy stimulus funds have been paid to foreign manufacturing companies. That's a staggering $900 million that should have went to American companies and workers. You may ask yourself, how’s this possible, especially when the purpose of the green stimulus money was to either create American jobs or help keep Americans employed? The answer is simple yet confusing. There are no mandates within the recovery act that stipulate green manufactured goods must be made in America. Certainly, the policy is extremely counterproductive to all Americans but especially to the state of Michigan.
A former automotive laborer, who is now taking green training classes with hopes of landing a energy job, recently reflect on this fact. He said, “Unless our representatives in D.C. comprehend the true meaning of the saying 'charity begins at home,' states such as Michigan with aspiring energy manufacturing ambitions will be hindered.”