By on March 16, 2010

The Detroit News reports that the United Auto Workers are gearing up for battle for a surprising new cause: greenhouse gas emissions standards. Alan Reuther, Legislative Director of the newly-green union, wrote congress recently to warn against a bill authored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski which would prevent the EPA from declaring C02 a danger to public health, saying:

The UAW also is deeply concerned that overturning EPA’s endangerment finding would unravel the historic agreement on one national standard for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions for light-duty vehicles that was negotiated by the Obama administration last year

Reuther’s letter to congress contains the bland truth behind the UAW’s growing environmentalism:
In the absence of the EPA standard, California and other states would certainly move forward with their standards, thereby subjecting auto manufacturers to all of the burdens that the one national standard was designed to avoid
By 2014, the light-duty vehicle fleet modeled in this study would achieve 31.5 mpg. This will add about $848 to the manufacturing cost of each car and light truck assembled in North America. If this cost is applied across 13.3 million North American assemblies, $11.3 billion more in content will be added to North American-built vehicles. This will create 62,000 additional jobs, of which 20,000–54,000 will be in the United States. Just under 40 percent of these jobs will be in the auto and auto parts sector. The remaining 60 percent will be either in the broader manufacturing supply chain, including raw materials such as steel or intermediate goods (stamped, machined, molded, cast and forged parts), or in nonmanufacturing jobs elsewhere in the economy.
In short extra costs mean more jobs. But, as the report puts it, “federal policy will play an important role in ensuring that both jobs and the manufacture of vehicle content are located in the United States.” The only example given: the billions spent to create an ostensibly US-based lithium-ion battery industry.
In 2007, the Energy Independence and Security Act established incentives for the domestic manufacturer of advanced batteries. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 subsequently funded these incentives. Earlier this year, the federal government announced the first wave of awards under these programs. The results are spectacular—48 projects have been announced to develop and deploy batteries and electric vehicle components in the United States.
The bottom line is that the United States could emerge as a leading producer of lithium-ion batteries in less than five years because of government policies that lower the cost and risk of critical technology development. That is smart policy for jobs, energy security and carbon avoidance, and shows what well-structured government stimulus policies can achieve.

Incidentally, that particular program only cost about $2.4b. The UAW have become masters at hiding their venal bottom line beneath labor and now environmental justifications, but it’s always there. In this case it comes down to two sentences:

Comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation is the ideal policy tool because it provides support at the scale, predictability and duration needed to fund a meaningful economic and technological transition. Domestic manufacturing incentives funded through steady allowance revenues, could prove crucial in the choices firms make about where to locate production and our economic stake in these emerging trends.

Meanwhile, recent past seems to show that they’re barking up the wrong tree. Battery assembly for the Chevy Volt, which is proudly displayed on the report’s cover, is taking place at a non-union shop. And those scabs are assembling batteries from cells made by a Korean firm. Apparently the green future does not belong to the UAW.

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18 Comments on “The UAW: As Green As We Need To Be...”

  • avatar

    I see the extra cost of the car not generating extra jobs, but probably bringing down auto sales and then costing jobs. To achieve higher ratings, cars will likely get smaller and have less powerful engines. If cars do need extra components that cost money, it will be reflected in the price, probably bringing down sales.

    How does this create jobs again?

    • 0 avatar

      They’re assuming that they will continue to add one job for every $x of car production. Of course, the first thing that struck me was that the extra cost associated with these cars may be more heavily weighted towards the materials used rather than the labor to assemble said vehicles. This may or may not be true, but to assume that the number of jobs per $’s of production will remain the same is an illustration of the old addage about assuming.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with your statement as well. Sounds like gov’t spending of stimulus math of creating or saving jobs. If companies use higher strength steel to have cars weigh less, it won’t generate any jobs in doing so.

  • avatar

    Greenhouse Gas is the boogeyman of the last 15 years-it’s based on questionable scientific practices.This is the mildest version I could find on the issue of scientists playing shell games.

    There is nothing wrong with more efficient cars but basing an industry on greenhouse gas fear mongering is like basing a vacation on “The Wizard of Oz”. The UN is taking a big look at Mr. Jones and co.-what does that tell you? These guys were on speed dial for cocktail meetings up to this point.

    The problem with this extra expense is that it’s going to come from only one of 2 sources-taxpayers and/or car buyers and right now is the wrong time to mug either victim.

    • 0 avatar

      What you’re linking to is a non-story.

      The scientist is on the hot-seat because he said some mean things about another scientist’s paper being not very good (which is how peer review works), because skeptics don’t understand how data normalization works and are up in arms about “throwing away data!”, and because many scientists are sick to death of providing and facilitating FOIA (or equivalent) request for skeptics so often that it actually gets in the way of doing real work.

      AGCC is real. What’s happened with ACLU/East Anglia s journalists got half a story, understood about ten percent of that, simplified it to inaccuracy, and then splashed it across the pages of national newspapers as some huge controversy. Skeptics, predicatably, proxied this one point into the entire theory being incorrect.

      Let me put it this way: what if someone at, say, UCLA or Stanford said that the fossil record made no sense in one dig and should be taken off the table as anomalous, and b) that another paleontologist’s study wasn’t right and c) that there’s missing links between evolutionary steps in general, does that d) make the entire theory of evolution wrong and Creationism right?

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      “The scientist is on the hot-seat because he said some mean things about another scientist’s paper being not very good (which is how peer review works)…”



      No, that would be precisely incorrect. The “scientist” is on the hot-seat because he failed to faithfully engage in the peer review process, and even worse, actively sought to stymie that process.

      Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for the rest of us, he got caught red-handed.

  • avatar

    Why would GM/UAW want carbon to be a public health menace? Because only then can cap-&-trade be implemented. With cap-&-trade, GM can earn credits for its electric vehicles, and the credits can be sold on the carbon market. The proceeds will go into UAW pockets.

  • avatar

    In the absence of the EPA standard, California and other states would certainly move forward with their standards, thereby subjecting auto manufacturers to all of the burdens that the one national standard was designed to avoid

    Except that most cars are engineered for the California standard anyways, since most people (and most of the people who have the money to buy new cars) live in states that follow CARB’s lead.

    All in all, I’m really struggling with the point of this. From what I can tell, it’s based on the premise that more cost in a product would mean more jobs. What would probably happen is that more cost would equal less sales, and it would certainly favour the sales of cars that the UAW has traditionally not built because they’re manufactured in countries where cost is low, or made in facilities that service a global market and thusly see huge economies of scale.

    About the only way I could see this making sense is if the UAW is being purely defensive: UAW-built cars are more likely not to be green vehicles, and pushing for a uniform green platform would, hopefully, see more of such vehicles built in general, and thusly UAW shops, which in turn would see satellite businesses producing green car subcomponents domestically. Rather progressive, actually, which would be atypical for the UAW.

    All of this is very tenuously related to a single national standard. That idea seems like a Hail Mary at best.

    I’m all for getting our carbon footprint down, but this is just weird.

  • avatar

    The UAW may have ulterior motives in opposing so-called CO2 limits, but they’re on the right side. The AGW hysteria is a classic case of GIGO data analysis.

    • 0 avatar

      I believe you’ve mis-read the story. The UAW is now saying they are in favor of CO2 limits via the EPA’s ruling. Their reasoning is that the limits will drive up the price of cars, thus generating UAW jobs. It’s not that they authentically care about ‘greenhouse’ gases.

  • avatar

    Something does not add up. While reducing CO2 output is worthwhile and scientifically valid, the case the UAW is trying to make is not. If electric is the card to be played, the batteries will almost certainly be outsourced to a foreign country with lax environmental laws and cheap labor. There is no way any car maker could afford to build that quantity of batteries in a union plant and not drive the cost of the car even higher than it is already. If higher costs are mostly due to more costly materials, then it is even more imperative to have labor cost as little as possible.

  • avatar

    The ‘green’ portion of the UAW stance is merely a smokescreen (heh), whether you subscribe to AGW or not. [I do not].

    In reality, the UAW’s hopes are pinned on the use of government force to generate jobs for them. On that point, the liberals in government and the UAW are very much aligned. They would say the same thing about improved bumper standards.

    As golden2husky says above, there will inevitably be pressure to cost-reduce ‘green’ products, and a key target will be labor content. So on that point, the UAW will be on the losing end.

  • avatar

    The problem with the greenhouse gas gang is their exaggerated efforts to advance their position via opportunists like Al Gore. Credibility got lost along the way and most of us have a great deal of trouble with a cap and trade system that seems to be a massive revenue grab. All of this is based upon a theoretical model that has been subjected to a massive hysteria campaign that runs along the lines of swine flu to sway public favor. Major dire predictions like the glacier extinction in the Himalayas are provided as empirical fact and later recanted. It is always convenient to lump skeptics in the same category as Creationists, but that eliminates the need for actual scientific debate on this subject. I am a firm believer in evolution, but I am glad that the science behind it is not going to take a very expensive and ineffectual turn at the expense of taxpayers

  • avatar

    It’s a scam. The EPA will never regulate CO2 on its own because they would have to then prove their finding in court. They can’t do that.

    The EPA can’t open up the pseudo science of AGCC to actual scrutiny, that’s what “consensus” is all about. To silence thought, not to enlighten.

    On the other hand, Congress doesn’t need any “science” to regulate CO2.

    Ethanol redux.

    Michael Crichton was the best and he suffered no fools like AlGore. He stated the global warming crowd was all politics, little science:

    Go to youtube for Crichton’s debates and Charlie Rose interviews. AlGore, the law school dropout, debates no one. “Shut up” he argues.

    An historical approach detailing how over the last thirty years scientists have begun to intermingle scientific and political claims.

  • avatar
    crash sled

    If the individual states are left to their own devices, and foolishly enact draconian emission standards, then OEMs may well respond much like a few already have to this point, and just ignore selling in those states.

    They’ll sell where they’re permitted to sell, and ignore the rest. They’ll likely also assemble vehicles in their sales markets, and those assembly points will likely be in states where the UAW is not well accepted. So the UAW will lose ground in such a regime, which is why they’re fighting against it.

    Government Motors can be expected to develop products that are 50 state compliant, but others less so. Works for me. Develop your business model and go for it. And if states make the wrong choices, jobs and opportunity will gravitate elsewhere, as California is seeing right now. Plus, they’ll have to do without a full choice of vehicles for sale.

  • avatar
    Jerry Sutherland

    I used the Times article because I wanted to NOT use a link like Fox News and get piled on for that kind of source.

    Here’s a BBC interview with Phil Jones and quite frankly, he left a lot on the table with his answers (or non answers).

    At least he’s finally admitted to a medieval warming period but he bobs and weaves when called on it by using the “no evidence in Asia” gambit.

    What really gets me is that this guy suddenly falls back on “let’s take a multi-dimensional view on this subject”- a strategy he clearly ignored when he was heavily funded to do his research.

    Honestly, Jones wouldn’t be the first academic to keep the cash flowing with specious research but he might be the first to be the architect of the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the world.

    That makes his research wide open for scrutiny and if it doesn’t stand up to a 100% screening then why not take a step back and make this guy bring more to the table.

    We’re talking about spending billions and billions of tax dollars in theories like cap and trade schemes.These are far more likely to buy AK-47s than solar power in Third World villages.

    Applying this same “loosey-goosey” science to the car industry is just plain wrong.They are in no position to experiment these days-this site is based on that premise so why not make Mr Jones jump through at least as many hoops as the runaway Prius driver because at least that guy is a minor irritant and not the master mind behind a trillion dollar burden on taxpayers.

  • avatar

    Cap and trade is not a “theory.” It has been successfully used to reduce acid rain in the northeast from coal-fired power plants. Some sources of emissions are more readily and cheaply cleaned up than others. So selling your credits for being cleaner than required to another emitter who can’t readily clean their emissions is an intelligent, effective approach. Funny thing about environmental problems is when they get mitigated by some means (regulation, cooperation with industry, etc) is that they drop out of the news and become forgotten. Invariably somebody later just concludes that the issue was a “chicken little” event since nobody talks about it anymore…nothing could be further from the truth.

    • 0 avatar

      You are correct. Cap-&-trade is not a theory. It is a calculated political fraud. Whether viewed as a platform for growth of government, green taxes, wealth transfer, exchange profiteering by Wall Street & industry, or central control of economic activity, cap-&-trade is at bottom a looting expedition. And like all such politbureau initiatives, it is ruthless; if enacted it will impoverish whole societies, constrain lives, and cost countless jobs. Its perpetrators are elitists, totalitarians and thieves, and its followers are saps.

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