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Beach: Alternate Technologies Ready

Every minute that America waits to implement a comprehensive clean energy solution further erodes America’s economy, jeopardizes American jobs, threatens national security and contributes to the deterioration of our environment. Together President Barack Obama and Congress have made great progress on a multitude of environmental, economic and energy concerns. However, we have the “shovel ready— technology and resources that would allow us to do so much more — right now.

[IMGCAP(1)]Global warming caused by carbon dioxide and other air pollutants has already had severe effects on the United States. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, since the 1950s, the average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate in recorded history and snow accumulation has declined 60 percent. Our planet cannot sustain another 30 years along the same trajectory. Progress has been made by the White House, Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency in implementing widespread government restrictions on greenhouse gases and helping renewable energy become cost-competitive with fossil fuels. We are now depending on Members of Congress to prevent further environmental degradation when they address the climate change bill this winter.

Another important advance in America’s environmental stewardship is the recent jump-start of the electric vehicle market, which will help to significantly decrease America’s dangerous dependence on foreign oil. In the first few months of his presidency, President Barack Obama announced that $2.4 billion in U.S. stimulus money would be spent developing electric vehicle technology to support the administration’s goal of having 1 million plug-in hybrids on the road by 2015. The stimulus money, administered by the Department of Energy, had hundreds of energy, battery and car companies vying for this funding. In addition to reducing carbon emissions, this bold move to foster an American electric vehicle industry will help to create new American jobs.

Advanced lithium ion batteries are essential for the development and adoption of electric vehicles, including electric drive, high-efficiency, light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles. Other applications, such as those in the defense and intelligence industries, would also benefit from the use of advanced lithium ion batteries. “Smart grid— and vehicle-to-grid solutions also depend on lithium ion battery technology to provide electricity storage and load management for the large-scale deployment of wind and solar energy generation. Nearly all high-volume advanced battery manufacturers are located in Asia, while the United States has limited lithium ion battery manufacturing capability and a small number of trained battery engineers, scientists and line workers. To be a global leader in the production and sale of advanced lithium ion batteries, we must quickly establish a long-term U.S.-based lithium ion battery manufacturing capability.

The oil and gas that currently fuel our lives cost the U.S. billions of dollars, which are being paid to the Middle East and ultimately supporting the needs of terrorists, according to former CIA Director Jim Woolsey. Additionally, government officials have stated that continued global warming could destabilize struggling and poor countries around the world, prompting mass migrations and creating breeding grounds for terrorists. Our situation is complicated and dire. In order to wean ourselves off CO2-emitting fossil fuels, greater focus is needed on the utilization of American-grown technologies and the development of new technologies that promote a cleaner environment.

Let’s not eliminate the opportunity for tomorrow’s successes with inaction today. It’s time for legislators, industry, scientists and consumers to act quickly and work together to implement technology and legislation that achieve a greener, economically viable, productive and stable future for the United States. A comprehensive national energy and environment plan that includes advanced lithium ion batteries will enable our great country to regain its position as a global leader in technology and innovation, to bolster our national security and spur economic stability through job generation today, which will last for years to come.

Paul Beach is the president of Quallion LLC, the largest manufacturer of customized lithium ion batteries in the United States. Quallion designs, fabricates and manufacturers state-of-the-art lithium ion cells and battery packs and develops new battery chemistries for the military, aerospace, medical and automotive industries.