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Energy Initiative Latest Thrust to Return Michigan to Economic Prosperity

Gov. Granholm Names Energy Chief to Oversee Job Creation Efforts

October 31, 2008       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Contrary to the naysayers who continue to blame Governor Jennifer Granholm for any bad economic news that comes down the pike, I think she has done a terrific job under the circumstances.

President Bush seems to have been the favorite whipping boy, with the Guv close behind, but neither are primarily to blame for our current economic woes.

The blame, in the opinion of this corner, lies in the fact that the United States has gotten so used to unparalleled prosperity that most people thought it was our birthright.

Whoops! The Chinese, Indians, Koreans, Japanese, etc., in other words countries all over the world, have another idea. The U.S. is no longer the unequaled paragon of economic growth, or military might, or educational excellence.

We fell asleep somewhere between World War II and Iraq and the rest of the world caught up. Like a frog put into a pot of water that began slowly to boil, we suddenly found ourselves being boiled alive.

Meanwhile, we became enamored of ideology, entranced with our own importance, secure in the knowledge that our stocks would always go up and our bank accounts would always be secure and growing.

The state of Michigan was the microcosm of the economic larger picture that eventually painted over the entire country. Political hacks liked to poke fun at the old auto rust belt state until the economic malaise swept over the rest of the country. Now, for goodness sakes, Rhode Island is the low state on the totem pole. Florida has a higher percentage of home foreclosures, California is sinking into the economic sea of despond, etc., etc.

The American workman, personified by the members of the United Auto Workers, were the target of the political tsunami that aimed to wipe out any voters who dared to swim against the conservative tide.

Make no mistake, the trashing of the American auto industry was deliberate and politically motivated, and Michigan was targeted to go down with it. Thank God for a Canadian import named Jennifer Granholm with the fortitude to stand against the hordes of ideological maniacs who would sooner shoot off their own feet than agree to a contrary philosophy.

Writes a Philadelphia blogger on FordMuscle.com: "This country cannot survive in a global free market and retain a functioning middle class if we have no domestic industry! Forget about politicians and Wall Street solutions. We have to take matters into our own hands by demanding and buying American made products. It is downright unpatriotic to keep flocking like lemmings and buying foreign products while unscrupulous executives/politicians gut the industrial base of our middle class economy. I got news for you, this is NOT a credit/housing crisis, it is a 30 year falling income/under employment crisis."

Unfortunately, there is a lot of truth in that statement.

Among other forward moves made recently, Granholm has announced a reorganization of state government that aligns all activities related to renewable energy and energy efficiency in one department in an effort to grow the energy sector and create jobs in Michigan.

All activities related to energy will be consolidated into the Department of Labor and Economic Growth. The department will be renamed the Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth (DELEG), and its director will be designated the Chief Energy Officer for the state.

Granholm announced the appointment of her special advisor on renewable energy, Stanley "Skip" Pruss, to serve as the CEO and director of DELEG. He replaces Keith Cooley who has accepted a position as CEO of NextEnergy in Detroit. Cooley and NextEnergy will partner with the DELEG to aggressively further the state's energy agenda.

"The new energy economy is, singularly, Michigan's greatest opportunity to create thousands of new jobs, attract new investment and diversify our economy," Granholm said. "By consolidating the state's energy efforts, we will create an efficient alignment of all the state's tools and resources to focus with laser-like precision on leading the nation in the new evolving energy sectors."

The reorganization will include the No Worker Left Behind green jobs training initiatives; Michigan's new energy efficiency building code; the Public Service Commission and energy efficiency programs; the Office of Sustainability; the Renewable Fuels Commission; and the State Energy Office, all working with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation's (MEDC) tax incentives and attraction efforts.

Granholm said the reorganization and the partnership with NextEnergy will allow the state to build strong, collaborative relationships with the private sector and state universities and community colleges, coordinate efforts across state government - eliminating redundancies and inefficiencies - and create new opportunities for our research and development centers.

The department will also facilitate the development of advanced energy technologies, critical to the state's efforts to revitalize Michigan's auto industry by utilizing Michigan's strengths in tool and die, metal fabrication and supply chain areas. Those advanced technologies will enable the industry to develop new power trains and fuel systems, including electrification for plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt now nearing production phase.

Under the order, DELEG will assume responsibility for activities related to the development of renewable fuels and "greening" programs like Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which assists communities in fostering environmentally sustainable construction. Those programs have been the respective responsibility of the departments of Agriculture and Environmental Quality (DEQ).

Pruss has most recently served as special advisor to the governor on renewable energy and the environment. Prior to joining the executive office, he served as deputy director for the DEQ, where he oversaw the environmental services and science, water quality, and land and water management divisions. He began his 30-year tenure in state government as an assistant attorney general, ultimately serving as the assistant attorney general-in-charge of the Consumer Protection, Anti-Trust and Charitable Trust Division. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Wayne State University School of Law. He resides in St. Johns, Michigan.

The International Energy Agency estimates that more than $20 trillion will be spent on energy production to meet demand worldwide over the next 25 years. Another study found the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries have the potential to generate more than $4.5 trillion in revenues and 40 million jobs in the U.S. by 2030.

Energy is the new economic frontier and thankfully we have a governor who is leading the wagons heading toward it! # # #

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at carraroe@aol.com)

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