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Secretary Chu's Remarks at a Batteries Announcement in North Carolina

August 5, 2009 - 12:00am

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I want to thank President Toth and everyone here at Polypore's Celgard subsidiary for welcoming me today. It is always a pleasure to be with the innovators and entrepreneurs who are rebuilding this economy from the ground up. Your work here at Celgard not only powers our computers, cameras, and cars - it will power our future prosperity.


Today in Indiana, President Obama made an exciting announcement. The President announced $2.4 billion in funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for 48 advanced battery and electric vehicle projects. This is the single largest investment ever made in advanced battery technology - anywhere in the world.


As you may have guessed by now, I also have an announcement of my own.


I'm pleased to announce today that Celgard will be receiving a $49 million grant to gear up production to meet the growing demand from American manufacturers for lithium ion batteries. With this Recovery Act funding, Celgard will be able to upgrade and expand its facilities. And we expect this will create hundreds of new American jobs for both Celgard and its suppliers and contractors.


Nationwide, the projects announced by President Obama are expected to create tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs in the battery and auto industries in the United States.


We believe these are incredibly effective investments that will come back to us many times over - by creating jobs, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, cleaning up the air we breathe, and combating climate change. They will help achieve the President's goal of putting one million plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road by 2015. And, most importantly, they will launch an advanced battery industry in America and make our auto industry cleaner and more competitive.


President Obama believes America should be leading the world in clean energy technologies. Today, we lag in many areas. For example, 98 percent of the lithium-ion batteries that power personal electronics are made in Asia. Ninety nine percent of the batteries that power America's hybrid cars are made in Japan.


Rather than sending billions overseas to pay for clean technologies, we must start investing these dollars here in America - in America's workers, industries, and innovations.


The United States has the opportunity to be at the forefront of this new industrial revolution that the world needs - and we should seize the moment. Let's use American ingenuity to find new approaches and new solutions. Let's call upon our great research and development organizations to invent new technologies and bring them quickly to market. That's why we are supporting the businesses like Celgard that will make America the world leader on clean energy.


These grants were chosen, not to simply boost a few companies, but to start an entire advanced battery industry in America. They span the supply chain - from auto parts manufacturers to battery manufacturers to automakers. The recipients range from established companies to small businesses to start-ups. The grants include education and workforce training to ensure this new industry has the workers it needs.


And they reach across the country. In addition to President Obama's announcement in Indiana today, Vice President Biden is in Michigan announcing grant winners in that state. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is in Florida. And Commerce Secretary Gary Locke is in Missouri. Overall, grant recipients are located in more than 25 different states.


The impact of these awards will continue to be felt for years to come. This serious commitment to advanced batteries and electric vehicles will lead both foreign and U.S. companies to build their new manufacturing facilities here in the United States. Those facilities will in turn drive further investments at home that will affect even wider economic circles.


That is the wonderful thing about launching a new industry - the benefits can accrue exponentially. The more manufacturers that invest in the U.S., the better all of them will do. Most importantly - the better all of America will do.


I am completely convinced that when America revs up our innovation machine, we can surpass any other country. And that is exactly what we are going to do. Together, we can position America to be the world leader on clean vehicles and to win the clean energy race.


Thank you, and I'll be happy to take any questions.
 


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