PWIR: Green Light for Green Jobs Petition

Tags: 25 by 25, CAFE standards, PWIR, RES, State of the State, Wolverine

On Friday, the Michigan Board of Canvassers gave the green light to circulate petitions to put the question of Michigan generating 25% of our energy from renewable sources by 2025 on the ballot for this November. You may be thinking, "hooray, yet another board of something approves another thing," but you'd be wrong; this is big news. It is a milestone for the campaign to create tens of thousands of well-paying Michigan jobs. A striking example of what this proposal means to Michigan occurred up north this week when a wind developer called off its plans to build a wind farm. They're looking for states that have higher renewable energy standards.

 

  • The renewable energy standard petition gets approved by the Board of Canvassers. Folks, we're on our way!

  • The EPA held hearings in Detroit on money-saving fuel efficiency standards this week. We were on-site and bring you reporting (and video) from the scene of the historic hearings.

  • Wolverine Energy abandons plans for a new dirty coal plant. Regular readers of the PWIR may begin spotting a trend here in Michigan.

  • Gov. Snyder gave his State of the State address without addressing any important environmental issues. Well, to be fair, he did give the subject a full 17 seconds.

RES Petition Approved

Your chance to become part of Michigan history got one step closer last week. The Michigan Board of Canvassers approved the petition to put 25% by ’25 on the November ballot. (Woo-hoo!) This means that soon you’ll have a chance to sign the petition and secure your place in the history of this ambitious jobs and energy plan. Look for a petition in a neighborhood near you in a couple of weeks; it takes a little time to print hundreds of thousands of them to hand out. 

The petition will need 322,609 signatures to get the proposal on the ballot. We want 500,000 both to be safe and prove a simple point: this idea is incredibly popular. Once on the ballot, Michigan citizens will have the opportunity to vote it into the state constitution. Email us at info@michiganlcv.org to find out how you can become involved, and visit www.mienergymijobs.com to learn more about the details of the proposed amendment.

To be clear, this isn't just about attracting jobs, it's also about preserving jobs. Just this week, a wind developer abandoned plans for a wind farm to be built in Manistee and Benzie Counties. Duke Energy Renewables scrapped its huge Gail Windpower Project, citing its failure to secure a long-term contract with an energy provider due to the lack of foreseeable demand for renewable energy.

The best way to address that? A renewable energy standard that ensures demand, ensures that people are employed building the wind farms and turbines, and ensures that public health will improve as a result of cleaner air.

For even more details on the approval of the Board of Canvassers and the overwhelmingly positive reaction,check out our blog post on the subject.

CAFE Standards in Detroit

In Detroit, on Tuesday, the EPA held its first of three hearings on its proposed update to the Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) standards. The standards would require automakers to achieve a 54.5mpg average fuel economy for their 2017-2025 lines of cars, SUVs, and light trucks. The proposal is supported not only by the Obama administration, but also by the Big Three and the UAW. 

I attended the seven-hour hearing as over 90 individuals ranging from the President of the UAW to auto executives to environmental groups to interested citizens spoke up in favor of the standards, again and again. My favorite speaker, though, was the Marine who served one tour in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. He noted that he was aware every day he was deployed that our nation's reliance on oil was endangering his life and those he bravely served with. He urged the EPA to quickly adopt the standards for the sake of our troops, if nothing else.

Back home, the standards allow for long-term planning and gives the automakers the ability to retool, hire, and train new workers without worrying about whether the rug will pulled out from under them.

Increasing fuel efficiency will not only improve air quality, but will significantly improve the quality of your bank account. Imagine cutting down, by half, the amount of times you see that irritating light on your dashboard that seems to say, "proceed immediately to nearest gas station, while you are already running late, and spend a ton of money." ...I hate that little light.

Wolverine Halts Dirty Coal Plans

Wolverine Energy announced it is unlikely to build the proposed 600 megawatt Rogers City coal plant. The coal plant, originally announced in 2006, was stalled by its inability to get state approval until last year. When the Snyder administration ultimately issued the permit, Wolverine still couldn't find investors for its coal-fired generators. At that point, they began blaming the EPA. Specifically, they blame the release of the country’s first-ever mercury emissions standards. Presque Isle County currently only has a third of the rate ofasthma hospitalizations per year as compared to the state as a whole; it's a proud statistic and this decision will help keep those rates down.

The other rates it will keep down is cost. Estimates show that a new coal plant would spike customers' bills by 33%.

State of the State

Governor Snyder delivered his State of the State address on Wednesday night. The environment was conspicuously absent from his speech. While he did mention a Southeast Michigan mass transit agenda, which is definitely important, his only other environmental reference was to highlight an obscure DEQ outhouse regulation. Despite your feelings on outhouses - if you have ever given them any thought in the first place - the DEQ is the primary protector of Michigan’s land, air, and water quality.

Making the DEQ out to be some regulatory scapegoat is foolish. Are there regulations we can make more efficient? Sure. But let's not lump all the important work they do into a cliche and send it to the outhouse. 

In other news…

At least one government executive showed environmental leadership this week. President Obama denied a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline due to the environmental risks it involves. TransCanada proposed the pipeline to carry Canada’s controversial tar sands oil across the Midwest, including through Nebraska’s ecologically sensitive and beautiful sand hills. It would also put a crucial aquifer at great risk. As we all know, Michigan is far too familiar with the danger of oil pipelines to simply ignore the serious questions a giant new pipeline raises.

Pipeline supporters claimed it would create thousands of jobs, but a Cornell University study put that number at closer to 500 to 1400 temporary jobs. Good call, Mr. President. You can thank him personally if you're inAnn Arbor on Friday, when he'll be speaking at the University of Michigan.

Until Next Week, 

Ryan Werder

Political Director

Email: ryan@michiganlcv.org

twitter: @rjwerder

 

This week's PWIR was researched and written with help from our Project Associate, Drew YoungeDyke.