This Week’s Headlines
- Drilling Under Pressure: Facing pressure to address high gas prices, President Biden announced plans last week to open more public land to oil and natural gas drilling operations, marking a reversal back towards Trump-era drilling policy. Opening up public lands to increase oil production, however, will do nothing to lower gas prices short term as it would take years for supply to increase.
- Michigan Businesses Call for Carbon Neutrality: Ahead of the Whitmer administration’s release of the final MI Healthy Climate Plan later this week, a group of 15 Michigan businesses – including Ford, General Motors, and Crystal Mountain Resort – signed on to a letter calling for the final plan to include a carbon neutrality target of 2050.
- Great Lakes Heat Waves: A recent study comparing rising water temperatures in lakes across the globe indicates that the Great Lakes are likely to experience more frequent heat waves caused by the accelerating climate crisis. Heat waves can have drastic impacts on the delicate Great Lakes ecosystem, causing algae blooms like those seen in Lake Erie over the past decade. As lake temperatures continue to rise, areas across Michigan – like Metro Detroit – will be increasingly impacted.
A Deeper Dive
On the Friday before Earth week, the Biden administration broke a key campaign promise to ban federal oil and gas lease sales on public lands when they announced the return of lease sales, pointing to pressure from industry and political implications heading into the midterm elections. The decision is clearly not aligned with climate goals and could lock us into higher carbon emissions for decades to come.
While action to increase drilling may be a political move to shore up support with people struggling with high gas prices, there is considerable political risk with this approach too. Recent polling shows President Biden is underwater with younger voters, garnering just a 21% approval rating for voters aged 18-34. With younger people the most likely to care about climate change, showing concrete steps to the climate crisis will be critical to improving these numbers.
On a positive note, the Biden administration also announced several major environmental initiatives this week to show the President’s climate ambitions are still alive. On Tuesday, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced a reversal of Trump-era deregulation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a decision that will allow environmental reviews to account for climate change and cumulative impacts of projects like pipelines and transmission lines. These environmental reviews, as well as the new SEC rule requiring companies to disclose their cost of carbon emissions and assessments of climate-related impacts, help strengthen regulation of carbon emissions across the board.
Action at all levels of government is necessary to combat the climate crisis, and regulatory power from existing structures like NEPA is extremely important. With Congressional climate action stalled, however, many local governments are turning to areas where they can make a difference. The current battlefield on the local level is the fight against fracked gas.
Often presented by industry as a cleaner alternative to coal, the practice of natural gas drilling carries with it numerous negative health effects and, due to methane leaks, has a similar greenhouse impact. Climate scientists have pointed to the need to electrify everything, which means ditching our gas stoves and furnaces. States and cities have moved to ban gas installations in new buildings, but have met stiff resistance from a coordinated campaign by the gas industry. For example, in 20 states across the U.S. it is now illegal for municipalities to ban gas installations.
Overcoming corporate influence is a task that extends from the federal government to our local communities. Michigan’s major utility companies – DTE and Consumers – align themselves with the same lobbying groups – like the American Gas Association – that are blocking climate action on the local level. That’s in addition to helping spread the myth that fracked gas is a clean source of energy and a primary way to meet emissions reductions.
Fossil fuel interests have entangled themselves into every aspect of our lives, and to win in the battle against climate change, we will have to take them on all of these levels, from the kitchen to the halls of Congress.
The Michigan LCV Difference
This week is Earth Week! While the spirit of Earth Day and working to protect our planet is intrinsic to our organization’s mission and core values, Michigan LCV is engaging in a number of activities and events all week long in celebration while keeping a keen focus on the expected release of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s final MI Healthy Climate Plan on Friday. After a lengthy drafting process and months of development based on public input, the final MI Healthy Climate Plan is Michigan’s roadmap to achieving 100% carbon neutrality statewide by 2050 and taking action to tackle the climate crisis.
Along with the release of the final climate plan, there are a number of climate action events Michigan LCV is taking part in throughout the week surrounding Earth Day, which is Friday, April 22.
Michigan Climate Plan Release: Governor Whitmer’s final MI Healthy Climate Plan, which will be the boldest climate action plan in state history, is set to be released on Friday, April 22.
RESCHEDULED: Representative Lawrence Earth Day Roundtable with Michigan LCV: Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence is postponing the Earth Day round table to attend the funeral of Patrick Lyoya, an unarmed black man, who was killed by a Grand Rapids Police Officer on April 4th. Michigan LCV released this statement on the unjust killing and the ongoing crisis of systemic racism.
Earth Day Celebration in Royal Oak: A major climate march, rally, and Earth Day fair is going down on Saturday, April 23 in Royal Oak hosted by the Turn Oakland County Green climate campaign (Michigan LCV is a supporter). The “Earth Fair” (with over 30 booths) will go from 9am to 1pm, with a Climate March at 10am and a rally with live music at 11am. Click this link for more details and to RSVP your attendance. We guarantee you’ll feel hopeful and energized after this celebration!
We hope to see you at some of these awesome upcoming events!
Thanks for reading, and have a great week!