With the Detroit Auto Show this week, Michigan’s auto industry has been the center of environmental news in the state and locally. Green cars bring hope for Michigan’s economy both from production of the cars and production of the electric batteries that are required. New mileage standards are changing the focus of auto shows around the country. High performance vehicles and SUV’s are no longer the hot item and are being replaced with small, lighter, and more fuel efficient vehicles. Cars such as the Chevrolet Volt and Ford Focus Electric are on display, showing the industries push for green cars.
West Michigan should soon feel the effects as battery plants in Holland and Muskegon take off. Holland’s JCI Saft battery plant will open this summer. The JCI battery plant is expected to hire 550 people over the next several years. Many of the jobs will be more involved and require more education than JCI’s other operations but they are still looking to the local area for much of their employee base.
A charging station for electric vehicles is now open to public use in Muskegon. The station will be free of charge initially. Plans for other charging stations in Muskegon County and new stations in Ottawa and Kent County are in the works.
Rather than promoting more efficient cars, Kalamazoo hopes to make it easier for cyclists. In a plan to promote sustainability and attract young people to the community, they will now require that new businesses include a place for customers to park their bikes.
Recent food safety legislation will put new regulations on Michigan farmers. The changes will most likely not affect small farmers who sell to farmer’s markets and restaurants.
Dow Chemical spent 1.15 million dollars in the 3rd quarter on lobbying, including on the topic of energy efficiency and to agencies such as the EPA.
In other local news, Ottawa County planners will meet to talk about community issues such as bikes paths and the management of trees along Holland’s Lakeshore Drive.
Beaches of southwest Michigan have been closed due to erosion from winter storms.