Fossil Fueled Right Wing Adds New Front to Anti-Clean Energy Battle – Battery Facilities

April 3, 2023

The same groups who have been mobilized and weaponized against solar and wind energy are now being directed to stop the buildout of EV and battery manufacturers across the US. These are not organic “grassroots” groups, but part of a larger, highly coordinated campaign. The tactics include mobilizing large numbers of agrieved right wing true believers to show up at normally sedate planning commission and local board meetings to intimidate local officials considering clean energy projects.

Logic and consistency are not a part of the rationale. For years, far right activists have argued that clean energy projects are “built in China” and therefore should not be allowed. Now that new incentives are attracting Chinese investors to partner with US companies to build in the US, fired up, facebook-mobilized mobs are being directed to oppose those as well.


A new ” battery belt” is emerging in the United States as automakers from around the globe race to meet the overwhelming demand for fully electric, zero-emission vehicles. With limited production ability, planned investments to ensure the US has an adequate supply of critical EV battery components exceeds $40 billion.


One of Michigan’s largest economic development announcements in 2022 originated in Mecosta County, where the Big Rapids area learned it had been chosen by Gotion Inc. for a $2.36 billion electric vehicle battery factory.

Screenshot from anti-wind, anti-solar facebook page in Montcalm County, MI – urges readers to join protests against battery facility in neighboring county.

Today, that factory remains in line for almost $1.1 billion in state funding in the form of $907 million in tax breaks plus $175 million from the $1.6 billion Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) fund for large-scale Michigan business projects, according to Green Charter Township. Originally planned to be built in adjoining townships, Gotion recently reduced its initial footprint to just Green Charter.

The project is starting to attract greater attention from residents and legislators statewide, who question both the state incentives and whether the U.S. subsidiary of private Gotion High-Tech Inc.’s Chinese ownership has ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which is accelerating its influence over Chinese businesses.

The issue also is attracting far-right political figures — including Tudor Dixon, the unsuccessful Republican gubernatorial candidate who spoke on a Fox News program about it. She asserted the company would have a CCP arm on-site when the factory is built, which the U.S.-based subsidiary denies. 

This comes as local residents are seeking more information on how the battery project may impact roads, infrastructure and other aspects of their community, Green Charter Township Supervisor Jim Chapman told Bridge Michigan this week. 

The two channels of inquiry (from local residents and outside groups) collided as the township planned to host a public meeting at Ferris State University this Wednesday, April 5. The event was recently moved to an online format amid what Chapman said were concerns that the meeting would be disrupted. 

All of this is happening, he said, as “we’re not even sure if Gotion is coming (here).”

Chapman spoke with Paula Gardner, Bridge’s business editor, about why the event was moved online and what local officials feared. Here are excerpts from the conversation.

Why did you move the public meeting to online?

We have obtained information that there are a significant number of people coming from outside the area. Most of them are fed by propaganda being put out by a few and with the apparent intention of interrupting our meeting or at the very least intimidating people.

The purpose of this meeting is to allow people — our residents, our community —  to learn from the people involved. 

We have subject matter experts that are going to be here, we have questions that have been submitted, and we want a chance for folks to hear those answers. 

And if this is going to end up with 1,000 shouting people waving signs, first off, nobody hears anything. Second of all, many (other) folks are intimidated about coming.  

(It’s happened already, so) the safest way seems to be to take it to a virtual meeting.

Are you talking about people who are expressing anti-Chinese business sentiment, or is it coming from other places too?

It is the folks that think that somehow this is Chinese communism, and some of it is environmental concerns. I think we’ve done a fairly good job of answering both, but many people don’t want to hear the answers.

What issues would be covered at the event?

Like the water system, the handling of the sewer lines, the planning we’ve done for how to handle vehicular traffic. There’s been a lot of work on this.  And (people need to determine if they) have the information to make this decision at that point. 

… There are some questions that have to be answered yet. But I think we’re doing a fairly good job of doing that. 

Unfortunately, there are some people that see the word “China” and decide they want to go off the deep end with whatever virtue signaling they can do without listening to the facts.

You halted a very crowded meeting in March at the Township Hall

Our hall has a capacity of 111 people; we had 230 in here. Public comment went beyond the normal 20 minutes; although people have the right to speak, (this meeting did not have Gotion on the agenda). Given the overcrowding and the emotional level, it was a safety concern from the sheriff and myself. We simply had to put a stop to it. And I’m sorry, I regret having to do that. But there wasn’t any choice at the time.

What are the next decisions coming from the township on this?

We’re not even 100-percent sure Gotion is coming. Gotion has not made a formal, full level commitment to it. That is still up in the air; they may simply decide to pull on to go to the next state.

These protesters are not stopping Gotion. They are not going to pick up their toys and go home. They’re simply going to go to another state and take $2.3 billion worth of investment to another state. And take 2,350 jobs to another state.

What signals are you getting from Gotion right now? It’s already pulled out of the Big Rapids Township portion of the project.

They do appear to be supportive of staying within Michigan, but they’re a business and they’re hedging their bets, and I don’t blame them. Again, nothing is guaranteed.

When you were planning this did anybody anticipate the pushback that would be coming?

Dear God, no.

We knew there were questions within our community. We’ve done every effort we can think of to engage with our residents and answer questions. 

But when I’m getting phone calls from the Thumb area, from Sault Ste. Marie, phone calls and messages from Kalamazoo, these are people who are not in our community. They are making assumptions of fact based off of propaganda so that is feeding it statewide and it’s becoming an issue.


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