Capital Catch-Up, Feb. 5
Activity in Lansing is starting to ramp up as the session gets into full swing. This week saw major action on the climate and energy front, both good and bad, with activity on Line 5, Governor Whitmer’s climate council, public lands management, and more. Here’s a rundown of the activity we are tracking in Lansing:
ICYMI: Legislative Action in Michigan this Week
House introduces bi-partisan resolution to conserve 30% of our land and water by 2030
A bi-partisan group of lawmakers introduced an MLCV-led resolution this week offering support to a statewide goal of conserving 30% of our land and 30% of our water by 2030. In an era of hyper-partisanship at the federal level, the legislation demonstrates that conservation is a significant area for inter-party cooperation and consensus-building.
The 30×30 Campaign: The 30×30 campaign is part of a national effort to protect 30% of our land and 30% of our oceans by 2030. Other states that have introduced 30×30 legislation include South Carolina, California, and Hawaii. At the federal level, President Biden also recently signed an executive order that would put the nation on track to achieve 30×30 goals.
Other Action in Lansing This Week:
Secretary Benson releases elections reforms agenda
Election reforms are still on the forefront of Michiganders’ minds after former President Trump’s campaign to cast doubt on the integrity of our nation’s democratic processes. In response to calls to make our elections more accessible and secure, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson released her own elections reforms agenda early this week. Proposed reforms include:
- Allowing local clerks an extra two weeks ahead of Election Day to process ballots
- Banning firearms at polling locations
- Allowing election officials to count absentee ballots postmarked on Election Day and received “shortly after”. It is unclear how long after these ballots would be accepted.
- Consolidating the May and August elections into one June election
EGLE approves Line 5 tunnel permits
The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy approved a set of permits last Friday for the construction of the tunnel that will house Line 5, an Enbridge-owned pipeline that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac. The permitting decision is a loss for environmental organizations who have been fighting the construction of the tunnel and the operation of the pipeline since the Snyder administration re-signed the easement leasing the Strait bottomlands in 2018.
We released this statement last Friday on the heels of the permitting decision, and we are continuing to fight to protect our Great Lakes from the dangerous pipeline.
The key thing to remember here is this is not a greenlight for the tunnel. There is still an extensive approval process by the Michigan Public Service Commission as well as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Gov. Whitmer announces Climate Council members
The creation of the council is a huge win for climate action in Michigan. We applaud the governor for gathering the best and brightest to assist in the implementation of the MI Healthy Climate Plan, which sets goals to address climate change statewide through a number of actions. These actions include:
- Putting our state on a pathway to achieving economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2050
- A 40% reduction in energy use by all existing state facilities by 2040
- Carbon neutrality in new state buildings by 2030
The creation of the Council on Climate Solutions is just the beginning of what we are expecting to be a long list of climate action by EGLE and the governor as they execute the goals laid out in the MI Healthy Climate Plan.
Check your Legislator’s Work with the Digital Accountability Suite:
We’re keeping our eye on what goes on in Lansing so we can keep you informed. Track your lawmaker’s progress on environmental legislation by using our accountability suite. Learn who values and acts to protect our land, air and water in our state government; hold elected officials accountable for their actions; and track decisions and legislation that impacts our natural resources and communities.