The UAW: As Green As We Need To Be

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

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

Not, however, because of the threat of global climate change. Who needs to worry about that when you’re health care fund is tied up in two teetering nightmares that need IPO-ing quick-fast?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 avoidBut, of course, there’s more to it than that. For more insight, we turn now to a just-released UAW/Center for American Progress/National Resources Defense Council report titled Driving Growth: How Clean Cars and Climate Policy Can Create Jobs [ PDF here]. In it, we learn that green cars are expensive cars… which means they’re failing union-saving cars: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.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • J Sutherland J Sutherland on Mar 16, 2010

    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.

  • Golden2husky Golden2husky on Mar 16, 2010

    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.

    • Tparkit Tparkit on Mar 17, 2010

      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.

  • VoGhost Key phrase: "The EV market has grown." Yup, EV sales are up yet again, contrary to what nearly every article on the topic has been claiming. It's almost as if the press gets 30% of ad revenues from oil companies and legacy ICE OEMs.
  • Leonard Ostrander Daniel J, you are making the assertion. It's up to you to produce the evidence.
  • VoGhost I remember all those years when the brilliant TTAC commenters told me over and over how easy it was for legacy automakers to switch to making EVs, and that Tesla was due to be crushed by them in just a few months.
  • D "smaller vehicles" - sorry, that's way too much common sense! Americans won't go along because clever marketing convinced us our egos need big@ss trucks, which give auto manufacturers the profit margin they want, and everybody feels vulnerable now unless they too have a huge vehicle. Lower speed limits could help, but no politician wants to push that losing policy. We'll just go on building more lanes and driving faster and faster behind our vehicle's tinted privacy glass. Visions of Slim Pickens riding a big black jacked up truck out of a B-52.
  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys dudes off the rails on drugs and full of hate and retribution. so is musky.