PWIR: $1.79 Billion

Tags: biodiversity, MPSC, Renewable Energy

PWIR Logo

Happy President’s Day! Though we’re working hard at Michigan LCV today, I hope those of you with the day off are enjoy a well-earned three day weekend skiing, 

ice skating, ice fishing or just waiting impatiently for the PWIR to arrive, wishing you had enough snow to do any of the above.

Last week was hardly a long weekend, with a number of big announcements happening on the renewable energy and energy efficiency front. Bottom line: Michigan’s current renewable energy standard has generated $1.79 billion so far in economic activity.

Covered this week:

Renewable Energy Creating Jobs

For those of you interested in energy issues, last week was full of big news. On Thursday afternoon, the first of Governor Snyder’s seven public forums on energy was held in Lansing. There was a great showing from experts and Michigan citizens who support increasing the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. For complete coverage, read our blog post.

In related news, the Michigan Public Service Commission released a new state report that provided strong evidence supporting the need to invest in more renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. Here is one of a dozen exciting quotes we could pull directly from the report: “During 2011, the clean and renewable energy sector contributed to employment opportunities in Michigan.” The report goes on to conclude that there is a continued downward trend in pricing for renewable energy. In fact, the report found that the cost of new renewable energy is actually cheaper than coal and that investing in more renewable energy has generated $1.79 billion in economic activity in Michigan.

The timing of this report could not have been better as it coincides with policymakers listening closely to the public forums over the coming weeks. The next forum is one week from today, where our West Michigan Director, Patty Birkholz, will testify. Want to participate? Visit our blog for information on how you can share your thoughts on Michigan’s energy future.

Biodiversity!

A consistent theme throughout each PWIR this year has been biodiversity. Specifically, updates on Senate Bill 78, which as I have described in previous editions would literally change the definition of conservation and remove biodiversity restoration from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR)'s responsibilities (full analysis here). 

Last week, the committee took an hour of testimony before needing to break for Senate Session, which brings us to this week: The Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee will meet on Thursday, February 21st at 8:30 AM to continue hearing testimony on this legislation.

We plan to be there and will be joined by many partner organizations and Michigan residents who care passionately about this issue. Are you interested in testifying? Shoot me an e-mail or reply to the PWIR. I would be happy to give you a quick orientation on the process and discuss Senate Bill 78, our opposition to it, and how you can participate in greater detail.

Streamline the DNR? We Have Some Hesitations...

The Michigan Office of Regulatory Reinvention (ORR) released its report with recommendations for streamlining the DNR last week. The report made sixteen separate recommendations, ranging from youth off-road vehicle use to rescinding outdated rules. A number of recommendations would not have direct implications for natural resource protection or conservation, but one in particular has us concerned.

In the section of recommendations focused on mineral rights in our state, the ORR suggested that the state develop a management plan "that will optimize the value to the state of its mineral resources." That sounds like pretty broad language to me, and I would certainly prefer that the focus of mineral resource extraction policy be on preserving our natural resources for generations to come.

In fact, Article IV, Section 52 of our Constitution states, "The conservation and development of the natural resources of the state are hereby declared to be of paramount public concern in the interest of the health, safety and general welfare of the people." The authors of our constitution strongly believed that natural resource management should balance both conservation and development, as opposed to focusing solely on "optimizing value."

What do you think? Have you had a chance to read the ORR’s report yet? Visit our Facebook page to comment now and join the conversation.

That’s all for this week.

Thanks,

Jack