FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Fuel Our Economy – Invest in New Energy Jobs for Michigan
Ann Arbor shows the way, powering fleets to save oil and save jobs
Ann Arbor, MI--In response to the fuel proposals in the President’s State of the Union address, and Ford’s announcement yesterday of a record $12.7-billion loss in 2006, Ann Arbor area city and county leaders today called on Michigan’s state and federal lawmakers to put Michigan first in new energy and automotive technologies. They pointed to their own successful efforts to keep Ann Arbor ahead of the new-energy curve, investing in alternative fuel fleets and biofuel production, putting the city on a path toward greater energy independence. It’s a path, city energy leaders say, the state needs to follow.
The speakers called on state and federal elected officials to make growing Michigan’s high tech automotive economy priority one, urging them to:
· Implement incentives that increase investment in the domestic production of fuel-efficient vehicle technologies and expand auto industry jobs here in the U.S.;
· Promote domestic manufacture of advanced auto technologies, rather than subsidizing fuel purchases;
· Set Renewable Fuels Standards that grow the market for sustainable, homegrown energy crops, and speed up development of cellulosic ethanol;
· Improve fuel economy and energy security.
“In light of the President’s goal of a 75% reduction in the use of Mideast oil, these are the people that are actually making it happen,” stated Charles Griffith, Auto Project Director for the Ecology Center. “The Ann Arbor Clean Cities Coalition is already one of the state’s largest users of alternative fuels.”
Griffith, on this last stop of a week-long Green Machines Road Trip, described thriving auto plants and biofuel production facilities throughout the Midwest, where environmentally-sound technologies are saving oil and saving jobs.
“From tax breaks that helped Daimler-Chrysler build cross-over vehicles in Belvidere Illinois, creating 4800 new manufacturing jobs, to Wisconsin’s initiative to bring 17,000 high-end jobs in the biofuels and renewable energy industry to their state, we’ve seen how the Midwest can prosper in a new energy economy,” said Griffith. “We can make Michigan the leader in advanced vehicle technology, fueling the Michigan economy and keeping the domestic auto industry competitive.”
Sean Read, Executive Director of the Ann Arbor area Clean Energy Coalition, stated, “The United States currently spends over $240 billion a year on foreign oil. It would make much more sense to keep those dollars close to home and create sustainable jobs in Michigan. Washtenaw County’s businesses and residents are helping to lead the way--in 2005, there were over a million gallons of biofuel used here.”
Ann Arbor’s energy independence efforts include:
· Implementing a Green Fleets program, to reduce the City's fuel use by 10% in ten years through the purchase of fuel efficient and alternative fuel vehicles. Ann Arbor currently operates two natural gas heavy-duty trucks, sixteen other natural gas vehicles, two neighborhood electric vehicles, over 150 pieces of equipment running on biodiesel, and its first fuel cell car.
· Creating the Municipal Energy Fund, a self-sustaining source of funds for investment in energy-efficient retrofits at city facilities. The Fund provides the up-front costs allowing the city to capture 80% of the resulting energy savings.
· Forming the Ann Arbor Area Clean Cities Coalition, a public/private partnership to increase the demand for alternative fueled vehicles within Washtenaw County, with the goals of improving air quality, reducing dependence on imported oil, and empowering the businesses and residents of the community to move towards creating a more sustainable community.
· Working to reduce Ann Arbor’s climate footprint through ICLEI's Cities for Climate Protection and the Great Lakes Climate Policy Coordination Project. In 2003, a first step: a team of SNRE masters students completed a Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Strategy for the City of Ann Arbor.
“We need to ensure Michigan will build the engines, site the wind turbines, and grow the renewable fuels that will help wean the country away from foreign oil, and bring back high paying jobs to Michigan,” said Griffith.
Contact: Vicki Levengood, 517-256-6789
Claudette Juska, 248-467-9532