Granholm Gingerly Pushes Back on Coal

The intense focus on energy innovation arguably was the lone bright spot in the otherwise uninspiring Rebuilding Michigan's Motor forum earlier this week. Everbody from citizens to CEO's wanted to know what exactly the state is doing to promote alternative and renewable energy sources and accelerate the growth of a modern economy.

As with the public transit issue, Governor Jennifer Granholm struggled to strike with straight answers and specific actions. But the conversation did produce what just might be the governor's strongest statment yet against the fossil fuel industry, which right now is aggressively pushing to expand in Michigan.

"What could we do to help our Big Three [car companies] to compete on the world stage [in alternative fuel cars]," asked Ron Joppie, the owner of Charlotte-based Christiansen's Furniture, Inc.

"This is another reason why Michigan is unique, Ron, because of our history with the auto industry," the governor replied. "All this movement now toward the hydrogen fuel cell, or the electric vehicle, the plug-in hybrid, we have in Michigan more research and development into the next engine than all of the other states plus Canada plus Mexico combined."

"The whole world is looking to move into battery technology, etc," the governor continued. "We in this state are uniquely positioned to lead that as well. We have led it in the past. We can still lead it. The irony is that the technologies associated with creating the next engine, whether it's the battery technology, those will be able to be used in stationary applications, too, in your home.

"There's a whole movement away from coal-fired power plants and from gasoline, all of those fossil fuels we want to break away from, and Michigan is uniquely positioned to do that given that we have the right policy framework."