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This Week in Lansing

EGLE Announced Gov. Whitmer’s Plan for a Clean Economy — Now What?

Last Friday, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy released the draft of Gov. Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan to steer Michigan towards a 100% clean economy by 2050. The plan is guided by recommendations from the Council on Climate Solutions, which was established by Gov. Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-182. Throughout the past year, many environmental stakeholders, including Michigan LCV, collaborated with the Council across issue-specific subgroups and made recommendations which were considered in the drafting of the Plan.

Below are just a few of the most important provisions included in the draft plan:

  • Establish a 50% renewable portfolio standard by 2030; phase out all coal by 2035.
  • Invest in electric vehicle infrastructure to accommodate 2 million electric vehicles by 2030.
  • Adhere to the Justice 40 principles to ensure that 40% of climate-related spending will be directed to EJ communities which have been traditionally underserved.
  • Triple the state’s recycling rate to 45% by 2030 and strengthen public and private-sector procurement programs to favor the use of low-carbon and circular-economy products.

While the draft plan represents a solid start and outlines many key priorities necessary to combat climate change, the Whitmer administration must go further in defining the specific steps Michigan must take to implement the plan’s vision, and the additional capacity it needs to do so. The viability of the Climate Plan will depend upon adding additional human and organizational capacity, more inspirational goals, and clear, short-term strategies to achieve these necessary goals.

Michigan LCV wants you to help take action to strengthen these recommendations and to call upon to detail and strengthen the final plan! Any member of the public can virtually attend and provide feedback on the recommendations at listening sessions hosted by EGLE scheduled for Jan. 26 from 10 a.m. to Noon and Feb. 8 from 6 to 8 p.m. Additionally, you can submit written comments with ideas for how to improve the council’s recommendations by February 14th as part of the public comment period.

Quick Hits

Bill to Require Poll Challenger Training Advances out of Committee

A bill which would require the Secretary of State’s office to establish a comprehensive training curriculum for election challengers passed out of the Senate Elections Committee on Thursday. The proposed legislation, SB 292, sponsored by Sen. Rick Outman (R-Six Lakes) is a modified version of HB 4528 which was vetoed by Gov. Whitmer last year due to a funding issue.

Given the inappropriate and dangerous fiasco we witnessed in 2020 at the TCF center in Detroit, well trained, accountable poll challengers are an integral part of ensuring open and transparent elections.

COVID in the House! 

The Michigan House of Representatives did not take any votes this week after an undisclosed number of lawmakers and staffers tested positive for COVID-19. This decision comes as the highly-contagious Omicron variant has affected a record number of Michiganders. The Michigan Senate remained in session throughout the week.

Sen. Irwin takes on LAUF-ing Gas

On Wednesday, Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) introduced a common sense energy consumer ratepayer protection bill (SB 822). The bill would prohibit the recovery of funds for lost and unaccounted for (LAUF) gas, which is often caused by leaks in unmaintained pipes. Data from the Michigan Public Service Commission shows that Consumers Energy and DTE have charged customers a combined $132,464,550 to pay for their faulty equipment.

Michigan LCV in Action

Nick Occhipinti Talks Water Infrastructure

State Government Affairs Director, Nick Occhipini, was interviewed by WGVU — the Western Michigan NPR affiliate radio station — on Wednesday about the importance of SB 565, the transformational water infrastructure bill which passed in the state Senate with unanimous support last year and is currently pending in the House of Representatives.

“This is really a generational opportunity to invest in the backbone of our economy, which is our public water infrastructure; our drinking water infrastructure. We have to get it done this year, we have underinvested in our drinking water infrastructure for decades.” 

Important Bill Introductions

SB 823 — Introduced by Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), if passed, this bill would require the control or capture of methane gas from oil or gas wells to prevent air pollution.

HB 5661 — This bill, introduced by Rep. Julie Rogers (D-Kalamazoo), would amend the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to allow EGLE to issue emergency orders which would require the owner of a lake bottomland structure to take remedial actions if it is in imminent danger of failure.