Quantcast
Business

Revamped Federal Loan Program Will Produce Cleaner Cars and Create Green Jobs

Clean energy got a boost this week when Secretary Ernest Moniz announced the Department of Energy (DOE) will jumpstart its stalled auto retooling loan program. This is good news for drivers who want cleaner cars, faster and cheaper. A successful restart of the retooling loan program can help clear bottlenecks in the supply chain and ensure that clean energy jobs that might otherwise go overseas, are instead “onshored.”

Retooling loans have helped create or preserve about 35,000 jobs in eight states.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

DOE Loan Program has a Track Record of Success

By objective measures, the grants provided through the retooling loan program--officially called the Advanced Technology Manufacturing Program (ATVM)—has been a clear success.

Of the five loans DOE granted for manufacturers to modernize their facilities to produce cars or their components that are fuel efficient or run on clean energy, only two have failed, but the total losses to government amount to less than 3 percent of the $8.4 billion in loans approved.

According to program participants, retooling loans have helped create or preserve approximately 35,000 jobs in eight states: California, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Kentucky, New York and Tennessee.

The loan to Tesla has been a stunning success, with Tesla repaying its $465 million loan five years in advance and the company now has a market capitalization of more than $25 billion. In Smyrna, Tennessee, Nissan is producing battery packs for its U.S.-made all electric LEAF cars in a factory made possible by a $1.4 billion DOE loan. And Ford was able to modernize 13 factories to build more fuel-efficient versions of its most popular models, including the Focus, Fusion, Escape and F-150, thanks to a $5.9 billion DOE loan.

Retooling the Retooling Loan Program

Like any program, the ATVM is evolving and improving over time. The changes are intended to streamline the program, better serve its applicants and clarify upfront whether certain technologies qualify.

DOE’s reboot is specifically focusing on transparency for potential applicants from the supplier industry. To clarify what projects might qualify, DOE is providing a list of pre-approved component categories:  advanced engines and powertrains, lightweight materials, advanced electronics, and fuel-efficient tires. 

As our joint report with UAW (United Auto Workers) and National Wildlife Federation, Supplying Ingenuity, points out, in 2011 there were already 150,000 Jobs at 300 facilities in 43 states in the clean car supply chain  Automakers are increasingly depending on their suppliers for new innovations and cost-cutting, which can strain their finances. For instance, Ford’s and GM’s plans to rely on light-weighting to raise the fuel economy of their best-selling F150 and Silverado pickup trucks will require creating a new auto supply chain for aluminum materials and parts. 

Putting U.S. back on Track

The ATVM program has already been a success. It has helped support 35,000 jobs with only modest losses. Loans to the auto industry to cut pollution and oil dependency is a much better use of public dollars than $8 billion in direct taxpayer subsidies that oil companies receive every year.

As I’ve said before, we shouldn’t let clean energy fall victim to partisanship. Americans deserve cleaner cars, lower fuel bills and good quality jobs. Rebooting the auto retooling loan program can help put us on that road.

This post originally appeared on the NRDC's Switchboard blog.

——–

YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE

——–

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Politics
Mike Pence at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, MD. Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0

Pence Family Gas Station Failures Cost Taxpayers More Than $20 Million

A failed gas station empire owned by the family of Vice President Mike Pence has left communities in his home state saddled with millions of dollars in ongoing cleanup costs, the AP reported this weekend.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Emilie Chen / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Against All Odds, Mountain Gorilla Numbers Are on the Rise

By Jason Bittel

The news coming out of East Africa's Virunga Mountains these days would have made the late (and legendary) conservationist Dian Fossey very happy. According to the most recent census, the mountain gorillas introduced to the world in Gorillas in the Mist, Fossey's book and the film about her work, have grown their ranks from 480 animals in 2010 to 604 as of June 2016. Add another couple hundred apes living in scattered habitats to the south, and their population as a whole totals more than 1,000. Believe it or not, this makes the mountain gorilla subspecies the only great apes known to be increasing in number.

Keep reading... Show less
Business
WeWork offers small businesses workspace in a collaborative community. Jonathan Wiggs / The Boston Globe via Getty Images

$20 Billion Startup WeWork Goes Vegetarian, Citing Environmental Concerns

Growing office-space startup WeWork is introducing a new flavor of corporate sustainability with its announcement Thursday that the entire company is going vegetarian, CNN Tech reported Friday.

The company of around 6,000 will no longer serve meat at events or reimburse employees for pork, red meat or poultry.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Greenpeace activists unfurled two large banners in the high bell tower of Kallio church in Helsinki, Finland on Monday. Greenpeace

'Warm Our Hearts Not Our Planet': Greenpeace Demands Climate Action From Trump and Putin

By Jessica Corbett

As U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin came together in Helsinki, Finland on Monday for a closely watched summit, Greenpeace activists partnered with a local parish to unfurl two massive banners on the Kallio church's bell tower to call on the leaders to "warm our hearts not our planet."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Many roofs were torn off when high winds from Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico. U.S. Air Force photo by A1C Nicholas Dutton

Hurricane Maria Aftermath: FEMA Admits to Deadly Mistakes in Puerto Rico

The Federal Emergency Management Agency was sorely unprepared to handle Hurricane Maria and the subsequent crisis in Puerto Rico, the agency admitted in an internal performance assessment memo released last week.

FEMA's after-action report details how the agency's warehouse on the island was nearly empty due to relief efforts from Hurricane Irma when Maria made landfall last September, with no cots or tarps and little food and water.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks to staff at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters on July 11 in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

3 Ways Andrew Wheeler Can Help Restore the EPA’s Dignity and Mission

By Jeff Turrentine

Plenty has been written in the past week about Andrew Wheeler, who has taken over as interim U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator after Scott Pruitt's abrupt yet way overdue resignation. (Some of us were even writing about Wheeler months ago!)

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Health
Bob Berg / Getty Images

How Summer and Diet Damage Your DNA, and What You Can Do

By Adam Barsouk

Today, your body will accumulate quadrillions of new injuries in your DNA. The constant onslaught of many forms of damage, some of which permanently mutates your genes, could initiate cancer and prove fatal. Yet all is not doomed: The lives we lead determine how well our cells can handle this daily molecular erosion.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme / Maxime Aliaga

300+ Mammal Species Could Still Be Discovered, Scientists Say

By Sara Novak

You can't protect an animal that you don't know exists. Tapanuli orangutans, for example, are found only in the Tapanuli region of Sumatra; they were only identified as a species last year, when scientists found them to be genetically different from other Bornean and Sumatran orangutans. With just 800 left, this newly discovered species is the most critically endangered ape.

It's hard to believe that with only seven great ape species on the planet—Tapanuli, Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, eastern and western gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos—a species could have gone undiscovered until 2017. But, in fact, new research shows that many mammals still fly under the radar.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!