Erie is gaga over a recent mention in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. And rightly so. Thomas "The World Is Flat" Friedman mentions that city's increasing profile in environmental circles. And get this: What makes Erie so "green" is its... manufacturing. Yep. The GE locomotive plant. Very cool. Here's a snippet:
John Dineen runs G.E. Transportation, which makes locomotives. His factory is in Erie, Pa., and employs 4,500 people. When it comes to the challenges from cheap labor markets, Dineen likes to say, “Our little town has trade surpluses with China and Mexico.”
Now how could that be? China makes locomotives that are 30 percent cheaper than G.E.’s, but it turns out that G.E.’s are the most energy efficient in the world, with the lowest emissions and best mileage per ton pulled — “and they don’t stop on the tracks,” Dineen added. So China is also buying from Erie — and so are Brazil, Mexico and Kazakhstan. What’s the secret? The China price.
“We made it very easy for them,” said Dineen. “By producing engines with lower emissions in the classic sense (NOx [nitrogen oxides]) and lower emissions in the future sense (CO2) and then coupling it with better fuel efficiency and reliability, we lowered the total life-cycle cost.”
The West can’t impose its climate or pollution standards on China, Dineen explained, but when a company like G.E. makes an engine that gets great mileage, cuts pollution and, by the way, emits less CO2, China will be a buyer. “If we were just trying to export lower-emission units, and they did not have the fuel benefits, we would lose,” Dineen said. “But when green is made green — improved fuel economies coupled with emissions reductions — we see very quick adoption rates.”
Yes, Virginia. You can still build huge stuff in Pennsylvania.