The battle against global climate change was kicked into a new gear this month, and Michigan is leading the charge.
That's right: Michigan.
The so-called "rust belt" state that has been putting cars, trucks, and SUV's on the road for over 100 years is putting the pedal to the metal on making the U.S. less reliant on fossil fuels.
As Governor of the state that has been ground zero for the nation's economic crisis, I was proud to stand with leaders of the UAW and ten automakers as President Obama announced a truly historic, aggressive national agreement to lower greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles.
Out with the old gas guzzlers of the past. Out with the old thinking of the past. Out with the old politics of the past. Out with the old rust belt.
May was the first month of the New: new technology, new ideas, and a new era of cooperation that will purposefully drive Michigan and America into the new clean-energy future.
Michigan's Big Three automakers, the UAW, Michigan's world class engineers -- they are working together to reduce more greenhouse gas emissions than ever before in this country's history. It's not Silicon Valley. It's not Route 128. It's Motown that is making a more significant impact on global climate change than any other place in America.
In addition to the new fuel efficiency standards, May was also the month that five innovative new Michigan companies submitted their applications to the Department of Energy to receive federal funding to design and build the advanced batteries that will power the electric vehicle of the future. Their applications are backed by $700 million in state incentives.
In Michigan, we're not only redesigning the current generation of vehicles to be more fuel efficient, but as the world's epicenter for automotive research and design, we're literally redesigning the entire notion of the automobile. The Chevy Volt will be the first ever mass produced car designed around a lithium ion battery pack rather than an internal combustion engine. Ford is preparing for the introduction of a full line of new hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, and just announced their first fully electric vehicle will be made at an efficient Michigan factory. Chrysler is also electrifying its product lines, with announcements to come. The key challenge we need to overcome to make the transition to an electric vehicle fleet is perfecting the battery. To meet that challenge, world class companies like A123 Systems, Johnson-Controls-Saft, KD Advanced Battery Group, LG Chem, and Sakti3 are partnering with Michigan's Big 3 automakers and Michigan's Dow Chemical to put the world's best battery engineers to the work on solutions.
As the Arsenal of Democracy during World War II, Michigan was called upon in a time of crisis to transition our auto manufacturing base to tanks and B-1 bombers. Today, Michigan will use our manufacturing know-how and infrastructure to make green energy products -- fuel efficient cars, advanced batteries for electric cars, wind turbines, solar panels, smart grid technology, carbon-fiber materials, energy efficient building materials, and more. We have reinvented ourselves before, and we will do it again. Hard work is in our DNA, and no state is hungrier than Michigan.
Some doubters on this website have advocated "pulling the plug on Detroit." Instead, I invite you to plug in to the power of American ingenuity and American transformation. Plug in the new electric car, made in America, by your neighbors in communities across the country. In Michigan, we're plugging in to a new paradigm. We are reimagining and remaking the American automobile, the American industrial sector, and our nation's energy future. Watch -- Michigan will lead a green industrial revolution. I invite you to watch us, encourage us, and join us.
And the doubters?
I encourage them to just try and keep up.
Follow Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm on Twitter: www.twitter.com/govgranholm