The automakers may have different ideas and slower timelines. But there's growing consensus across the Great Lakes region about the urgent opportunity to aggressively push the boundaries of energy innovation and break America's dependence on foreign oil.
Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts who is campaining for the Republican nomination for president, walked that fine line at the Detroit Economic Club yesterday. Romney said he believes American-made cars must be more fuel efficient, but that he's opposed to goverment-mandated fuel efficiency standards, according to excerpts of his remarks posted on his Website.
In fact, tougher fuel rules are among the top seven initiatives Romney proposes to ensure America's continued economic expansion. The other six have primarily to do with easing regulation, streamlining government, and rolling back taxes.
Lower taxes play well to the crowds. But his comments come as the greater Great Lakes - one of the most economically important yet depressed regions in the U.S. - yearns for deeper investment. Investment in people and education; investment in cities and mass transit; investment in technology and innovation; and investment in the waterways that power the midwest industries that helped the nation rise a world leader.
The U.S. is spending $500 billion, by some estimates so far, to invade, reform, and rebuild Iraq, largely because of rampant domestic demand for oil. What's the strategy to change that scenario and renew investment in the homeland? Those are the sorts of political ideas Great Lakes voters should demand from prospective presidential candidates.