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Failed Renewable Technologies Are An Expensive Teaching Moment

Paul Chesser — National Legal and Policy Center — October 30, 2012

A story that went viral over a week ago showed how (non)-workers at a Michigan electric vehicle battery plant, funded through thestimulus by taxpayers, spent their time playing games, reading magazines, watching movies or helping charities like Habitat for Humanity – that is, when they weren’t ‘off-duty’ on their cyclical furloughs.

According to a report by WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids, the LG Chem factory in Holland, Mich. – blessed with $151 million from a Department of Energy Recovery Act grant and $100 million from Wolverine State taxpayers – had “yet to ship out a single battery.”

But another local television station discovered some workers doing something else with their paid-but-free time: teaching students about their failed industry. WZZM, the local ABC affiliate, reported that engineers from LG Chem visited a local job training facility called Careerline Tech Center after they were invited by its director, Dave Searles.

“We’re working with LG Chem about future technology that’s coming out,” he told reporter Alex Shabad.

Contrary to the methods apparently taught in journalism schools today, Shabad responded to Searles with the kind of skeptical question that ought to be on the lips of every reporter in the nation whose beat includes any project from President Obama’s alternative energy stimulus initiative. If you ever visit the Recovery.gov Web site, you’d realize that’s pretty much the entire media.

“If a technology is failing,” Shabad asked Searles, “is it still important for students to know about it?”

Searles responded, “I can’t determine what’s failing and what’s not right now.”

(To continue reading, click here)

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