Three Things Thursday: April 13, 2023
Dear Michigan LCV Family,
Welcome to the April 13, 2023 edition of Three Things Thursday! This week it’s all about bold action to address the climate crisis… #1, #2 and #3. Let’s jump in!
1. The Michigan Climate Action Conference
Earlier this week, the first-ever Michigan Climate Action Conference was held in Detroit, bringing together academics; representatives from business, health care, and philanthropy, as well as a host of NGOs focused on tackling the existential threat of our time. The focal point of the two day conference was Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan and all that must be done to ensure full implementation of the plan.
The conference, which began on Tuesday at noon, was emceed by the ever-amazing Justin Onwenu. Many of you may remember Justin, who served as an environmental justice organizer for Sierra Club a few years ago and currently serves on the Michigan Advisory Council for Environmental Justice. Justin now attends Columbia Law School in NYC and he just did what most law school students do, right? – he took a break in the middle of his second year studies to come back to Detroit and emcee a 500-person conference….!! Wow!
Emcee extraordinaire, Justin Onwenu.
The Michigan LCV team turned out in force, both staff and board. Here’s a shot of just a few of us:
A few key members from Team Michigan LCV (from left to right): Michigan LCV board member Marseille Allen, Visual Storytelling Manager Samantha Schubert, board member Phil Roos, me, West Michigan Regional Coordinator Wesley Watson, Partnerships Coordinator Roslyn Ogburn, Communications Director Nick Dodge and Senior Director of Partnerships & Development Lauren Mallas.
The first afternoon was filled with one outstanding speaker after another, including Carla Walker-Miller, Walker-Miller Energy Services; Dr. Tony Reames, U.S. Dept. of Energy; and Detroit Mayor Duggan, to name just a few.
On Tuesday, I had the distinct pleasure of introducing Gov. Whitmer, who surprised the gathering with a keynote address in the late afternoon.
The Governor and I individually highlighted the importance of the present moment for climate action, emphasizing how climate change is a true pocket book or kitchen table issue for Michiganders. Here are a few snippets from the Governor’s remarks:
We are on a roll right now. With a working majority in Lansing, a slate of powerful economic development levers, and billions in federal resources on the table, we are in a strong position to lead the future of clean energy and climate action. As we all know, climate action is a kitchen-table issue. It’s about good-paying jobs. Safe, reliable, and affordable energy. Clean air and water. It’s tangible. It makes a difference in our lives.”
The Governor also emphasized how important it is for us all to work together:
Climate action requires collaboration. That’s why this conference is so important. It gives you—leading policymakers and action-takers—space to identify shared challenges and develop strategies to get things done.”
She went on to say:
One of the themes of this conference is: “to change everything, we need everyone.” I could not agree more. Ignorance, inaction, and only individualized responses are not going to get us anywhere.”
In advance of the conference, Michigan LCV Partnerships Coordinator Roslyn Ogburn spoke at a press conference, calling on the Michigan Legislature to step up and take action to transition our state to 100% clean, renewable energy. Ros, too, spoke about how climate action is a “kitchen table” issue that can help residents save money on energy bills, create jobs, and improve public health. The Detroit News and other media outlets captured Ros’ comments in their coverage of the event.
Michigan LCV Partnerships Coordinator Roslyn Ogburn speaking at Tuesday’s press conference.
I invite you to watch this compelling short video created by Michigan LCV teammate Samantha Schubert, which captures Ros’ comments: Support Our Clean Energy Future.
The conference was a great way to start the week, and the timing could not have been better (more on this below)! A big thank you to the Michigan LCV family – both teammates and board members who attended the conference and those who supported from behind the scenes.
2. Michigan Senate to introduce 100% clean energy legislation
As noted above, the timing of this week’s climate action conference was perfect, especially because we finally have action on climate and energy legislation in Lansing!
On Wednesday, the Michigan Senate announced a package of bills called the Clean Energy Future Plan, which will support and solidify Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan.
In 2022, Governor Whitmer unveiled her MI Healthy Climate Plan, the boldest climate action plan in state history. While some portions of the plan can be accomplished through executive authority, it is imperative that the state legislature also take action.
The Clean Energy Future Plan, which will be introduced in the coming days, is aimed at transitioning Michigan to 100% clean energy and, in doing so, bring real benefits to Michigan communities.
Click here to read Michigan LCV’s statement, which was released yesterday.
Here is what the package will do:
- Clean up the Electric Grid: Phase out remaining coal-fired power plants by 2030, require utilities to make progress toward eliminating greenhouse gas emission from power generation by 2035 and develop a 100% clean energy standard by 2035.
- Boost Waste Reduction (EWR): Achieve at least 2% annual electric energy efficiency savings by increasing the current EWR target for electric utilities, and restore the energy waste reduction target for municipal and cooperative electric utilities.
- Expand the purview of the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC): Allow the MPSC to evaluate climate, health, equity and affordability in the approval of utility Integrated Resource Plans.
- Repair and Decarbonize Homes and Businesses: Reduce emissions related to heating Michigan homes and businesses by 17% by 2030 by developing a Michigan Construction Decarbonization Strategic Plan.
- Set a Clean Fuels Standard (CFS): Adopt to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels by 25% by the end of 2035.
- Preserve Farmland With Solar: Allow farmers to rent land for solar operations while maintaining preservation of farmland enrolled in the PA 116 program.
The Clean Energy Future Plan presents Michigan with a real opportunity to create thousands of good paying jobs, reduce costs and put money back into Michiganders’ pockets – all while creating a healthier Michigan for generations to come.
The Michigan LCV team is working closely with Senate leadership to elevate the importance of the Clean Energy Future Plan, while also working with House leadership on their own set of clean energy/climate bills. Once introduced, it is imperative that these bills cross the finish line. Here’s what you can to to help:
There will be much more to share in the days and weeks to come.
3. EPA unveils proposed strongest-ever car and truck emissions guidance
As a proverbial cherry on top, there was more positive climate and energy news from Washington, D.C. this week!
Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new, strengthened regulations for emissions from heavy trucks and other vehicles. The new emissions guidance represents some of the strongest in the world and will help the U.S. bring down national emissions to address the climate crisis.
Click here to read Michigan LCV’s statement.
Michigan LCV’s Federal Government Affairs team has been closely tracking the EPA’s announcement. Bentley Johnson, federal government affairs director, and Hudson Villenueve, federal government affairs coordinator, published an important blog article this week about the proposed regulations. The article explains how the new proposed guidance for auto emissions is not only a critical step in addressing climate change, but a strong step forward in protecting the health of frontline communities who are disproportionately impacted by air pollution and climate impacts.
Here is an excerpt of the blog article:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed a rule to regulate car and heavy truck emissions. With transportation representing the largest sector nationally in carbon pollution, these rules will be pivotal in bringing down harmful pollution that poses a danger to public health.
The proposed standards are the strongest in history, and could result in electric vehicles (EVs) representing 67% of vehicles sold by 2032 – up from just 7% today. With Michigan poised to be at the center of EV development and production, the EPA’s rule – combined with federal investments from a suite of new programs – could be a boost to the state’s auto industry and workers in the manufacturing sector
The proposed standards to cut medium and heavy duty vehicle emissions are critical to addressing environmental injustices here in Michigan. Freight truck pollution harms everyone, but especially those who live near highways, ports, freight hubs and other high traffic areas – like low-income neighborhoods in Detroit near bridges, factories, and port facilities. Early analysis of the proposed rule announced today indicates that there is room to strengthen the standards to best protect health in these communities and for everyone in the country.
As Bentley and Hudson explain, the EPA’s proposed regulations will require massive expansions of our country’s clean energy infrastructure to realize the totality of the benefits. If our electric vehicles are charged with energy produced by coal-fired power plants, we will not be able to bring down carbon emissions from automobiles to the extent that the EPA has outlined. Luckily, the legislation moving forward in the Michigan Senate is exactly the type of action needed to tackle this problem and position Michigan as a leader.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for updates on the EPA’s proposed regulations, and ways that you can get involved to ensure the EPA fully adopts and enacts the strongest regulations possible.
As always, thank you for all that you do! The coming weeks and months will be all-hands-on-deck, but we are on our way. As the Governor often says, “Let’s get it done!”