Republicans Look to Move Funding for Battery Technology to Clean-up Storm Damage
The $1.5 billion that Republicans are looking to move are funds that are held under a loan program that was created in 2007 to help improve fuel economy and lower America’s dependence on foreign oil.
The federal government has given about $2.5 billion so far to the development of battery technology, parsing it out to about 30 companies. Battery technology is slow to develop and particularly challenging in vehicles.
Still many manufacturing jobs that have appeared are in new factories in America like A123 in Detroit. Manufacturing of the world’s lithium ion batteries has grown, according to an article in the New York Times, from producing 2 percent of the world’s batteries in 2009 to a projected capacity of 40 percent by 2015, mostly due to government funding.
Opening new factories also addresses the desperate need for the Obama administration to produce jobs. The manufacturing sector has lost about a third of its total jobs over the last several years.
The political ploy of moving money out of this program into storm recovery is blatently transparent as it will serve the economic needs of Republican Eric Cantor’s district, Virginia, which suffered severe storm damage. At the same time, moving those funds takes away much needed help to places like Detroit that has lost so many manufacturing jobs. The program has been helpful to automakers like Ford and GM as well as Nissan, which is using its loan to expand its plant in Tennessee to produce the electric Nissan Leaf.
The funding also went to Tesla Motors. With a loan of $465 million from the federal government, they opened up a powertrain facility in Palo Alto, CA and refurbished a NUMMI plant, a joint venture between GM and Toyota, in Fresno, CA to produce its lower-priced, more accessible, $4-0,000 Model S battery operated car. Previously they had produced a $90,000 battery-operated roadster.