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Stimulus Supporters Hope Cummins Grant Shows Virtues of Spending

Sen. Evan Bayh and Energy Secretary Steven Chu

Photo: Daniel Robison/ WFIU

During a tour of a Cummins plant, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Senator Evan Bayh listen to an engineer explain research the federal stimulus package will support.

Of the $184 million in stimulus money assigned around the country Monday, Indiana companies will receive roughly half.

Cummins will take the lion’s share of funding and direct it toward existing research on greening heavy-duty truck engines.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who toured the plant Monday, is part of an Obama administration that’s still trying to sell the public on the virtues of the $787 billion plan. With Chu were Senator Evan Bayh and Congressman Baron Hill, both of whom voted for the stimulus package. Bayh says the nearly year-old stimulus, for some, is a symbol of overspending.

“I think a lot of us look with skepticism at a lot of the spending that takes place. But this is the kind of investment that the taxpayers of our state and country can support. This is a wise use of taxpayer’s dollars.

But Cummins Spokesman Mark Land says the public should see the grants as a good use of taxpayer money.

“When you look at what stimulus funding is meant to be: generating jobs and helping the environment as well as the economy and getting people to work. I think this represents the best of that. I mean, this is very high tech work. Taxpayers will see a return. These are going to result in products that will clean the environment,” he said.

Chu says the goal of Cummins’ project – an engine producing 40 percent fewer carbon emissions– will reduce nationwide fuel consumption by three million barrels if adopted. That’s what the country currently imports from the Middle East and Venezuela every day.

But Cummins Chief Technical Officer John Wall says the results could take years to realize.

“We expect that you’ll be seeing the fruits of this the later part of the decade. It takes awhile to develop and deliver these technologies. But we expect to see these on the road in the 2016 to 2018 time frame,” he said.

The grants will fund 160 jobs at Cummins. Fort Wayne’s Navistar will also receive $37 million from the grant, which will create two hundred jobs. Cummins and Navistar will be expected to match the stimulus grants over the next four years.

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