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Local lawmaker applauds audit at LG Chem, urges more
HOLLAND, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A local lawmaker is pushing for change after a government audit determined that a Holland battery facility mis-used stimulus money.
The Department of Energy found that LG Chem was paying employees to play games and do community service projects instead of make batteries.
The plant was supposed to start pumping out lithium-ion batteries last year, but slow sales of the Chevy Volt have put those plans on hold.
LG Chem returned more than $840,000 in funding after the report surfaced.
Now, a U.S. Congressman representing West Michigan says he wants to know if this is happening elsewhere, so he's pushing for audits for all companies receiving these type of funds.
In the wake of the federal audit at LG Chem's Holland facility, Congressman Bill Huizenga is pushing for more government responsibility when it comes to stimulus funds.
"Hundreds of millions of dollars that go into a particular project at a time, this isn't about pointing out that one particular company failed, this is that the system failed them," Huizenga said.
Huizenga told Newschannel 3 that he agreed with the Inspector General's decision to audit LG Chem, but said they need to do more.
The Department of Energy is taking some of the blame for the estimated $1.6 million that was misused, citing problems with grant monitoring.
They also said that the department did not "take sufficient action to ensure adequate oversight."
Huizenga is now drafting a letter to the Department of Energy requesting audits be performed elsewhere.
"We can't do this again; we can't attempt to create these markets out of whole cloth like this," he said. "This has to be private dollars going in to implement this rather than government dollars."
The Congressman, like others does remain optimistic about the future of Holland.
"It's a large investment that an Asian company as made in the United States, and they don't do that on a whim," Holland Mayor Kurt Dykstra said.
Leaders say that it's about taking this lesson and moving forward, to assure that money is being spent in the right places.
"Thte more light we can shed on this, the better off we are," Huizenga said. "Sunshine is a wonderful antiseptic to making sure that everyone is abiding by the rules they agreed to."
The Congressman plans to submit his letter to the Department of Energy when he returns to Washington next week.