What Did Obama Visit to Ohio Wind Manufacturer Mean?

En route from Chicago to DC for his inauguration, President-Elect Obama stopped in Ohio today to visit a company near Cleveland that bills itself as the nationâ''s largest manufacturer of the steel bolts used to anchor wind turbine towers to their concrete foundations. Itâ''s only too tempting to speculate about what exactly this might portend.

Is Obamaâ''s drop-in visit to Cardinal Fastener & Specialty Co. a mere reminder of his strong general commitment to promote green energy technology and reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Did he stop by Bedford Heights to specifically highlight his desire to see wind-generated electricity doubled in three years, consistent with the Department of Energyâ''s assessment that we could get a fifth of our electricity from wind by 2030? Does Obama know that wind jobs are taking a hit, as well as jobs in the solar industry, and does he want to show support?

Is the president signaling those Ohio blue-collar voters who helped put him over the top in November that as the U.S. economy is retooled to be greener in the coming years, Midwestern manufacturing jobs will not be forgotten? Could he even be signaling that he may side with those of his advisers who favor a carbon tax, with an eye on using tax proceeds to create green jobs? Or could it be almost the oppositeâ''he still prefers a cap-and-trade system, but one in which auctioning of emission credits could provide subsidies for manufacturing jobs creation?

We donâ''t know! It could be just about all of the above or almost none of it. Maybe Obama just wanted to learn more about how a wind turbine is made, given that he has time on his hands and not much to worry about.

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