In the Pipeline: 12/1/11

President Obama’s new electric car will cost $96,000 this holiday season (batteries not included) Greenwire (11/30/11) reports: A123 Systems has cut 35 percent of the workers at two Michigan plants that make lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles following a reduction in orders from prime customer Fisker Automotive…The company, which received a $249 million grant from the Department of Energy to produce batteries in Michigan, has been touted by the Obama administration as evidence of its success in using federal funding to create jobs. Until this round of layoffs, the company employed about 1,000 workers in Michigan…A123 cut about 225 full-time workers on temporary contracts in early November and laid off another 125 staff members last week, company officials said yesterday…”This is an unfortunate blip in what has been a strong record in hiring people,” said Jason Forcier, who heads A123’s automotive business…The company expects Fisker’s orders to pick up again in the second quarter of 2012, A123 spokesman Dan Borgasano said…”We expect that this will be a temporary reduction in workforce that will last six months or less,” he said…Fisker, which builds the $96,000 luxury plug-in Karma, has received $529 million in DOE loans. But delays in rolling out the company’s hybrid have led to questions over the automaker’s fortunes (Greenwire, Oct. 21)…A123’s stock has fallen 76 percent since the start of the year.

“Our customers’ peace of mind is too important to us for there to be any concern or worry.”  You think maybe they would have thought of that before they started to pimp an expensive, unreliable, environmentally-damaging, dangerous product…like the Volt New York Times (11/30/11) reports: General Motors said on Monday that it would offer free loaner cars to Volt owners worried about the safety of their vehicles, a move that underscored the fragile reputation of automobiles powered primarily by batteries and the growing consternation set off by the federal action. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Friday opened a formal defect investigation into the Volt after two batteries caught fire as part of testing by regulators…“Our customers’ peace of mind is too important to us for there to be any concern or worry,” Mark L. Reuss, head of G.M.’s North American division, said in announcing the offer of loaner cars. “This technology should inspire confidence and pride, not raise any concern or doubt.”

Do these guys know who runs FERC nowadays? The Hill (11/30/11) reports: Republicans on both sides of Capitol Hill are taking steps this week to impose a political price on the White House for delaying a final decision on the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline until after the 2012 election…Senate GOP leadership on Wednesday promoted new legislation that would force a much faster decision on TransCanada Corp.’s proposed $7 billion Alberta-to-Texas pipeline…They argue the bill (which E2 covered here and here) will help create jobs quickly, and alleged the recent administration delay was a political decision to appease green groups.

Yikes.  When even the crazies refuse to associate themselves with this mess, you know it must be bad Washington Post (11/30/11) reports: A broad coalition of civic leaders, elected officials and labor, environmental and social activists launched a new campaign Wednesday aimed at persuading U.S. politicians that they should curb greenhouse gas emissions for moral and ethical reasons…The Climate Ethics Campaign–which kicked off with a Capitol Hill press conference headlining Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)–comes as negotiators are struggling to make progress at United Nations climate talks in Durban, South Africa.

Turns out there was a little ‘dust’ up with the EPA in Congress yesterday Politico (12/1/11) reports: The House Energy and Commerce Committee operated on the Clean Air Act on Wednesday, passing legislation that would cut into the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate particulate matter in numerous situations…“We don’t trust EPA. We know they’ll come back. We know they’ll go after dust. … That’s why we have this bill,” Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) said.



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