Michigan is sending out wildly mixed messages about its stand on moving away from fossil fuels as its primary energy sources.
After the Environmental Protection Agency announced it its Clean Power Plan in September, Gov. Rick Snyder's administration quickly said it would comply with the rule, which requires utilities nationwide to slash carbon emissions by about 30 percent by 2030. Michigan's two biggest utilities, Consumers Energy and DTE Energy, also said they could meet the new requirement.
And as recently as December, the Snyder administration said Michigan could comply with the plan through at least 2025 without making any changes in its energy structure.
Attorney General Bill Schuette said he would fight the plan in the federal courts. And when the Supreme Court put a temporary hold on the plan's implementation this month, the state almost immediately said it would halt efforts to comply with the carbon-reduction rule.
But just a week after the Supreme Court's stay, Snyder joined a group of 17 mostly Democratic governors in what's being called the Governors’ Accord for a New Energy Future. The governors have "pledged their states’ commitment to effectively collaborate towards diversifying energy generation, expanding clean energy sources, modernizing energy infrastructure, encouraging clean transportation options and securing a stronger national energy future."
Michigan would be well served by continuing its work on implementing the EPA's Clean Power Plan, regardless of what the Supreme Court ultimately decides, according to the Michigan League for Public Policy. Shannon Nobles, a MLPP staffer, wrote in a blog post:
Despite these recent developments, the Clean Power Plan is still good energy policy for our state and the nation. Michigan must continue to move forward with its implementation plan to protect public health, reduce pollution and build on the success of our thriving clean energy economy. We all depend upon clean air to breathe, thrive and live our lives to the fullest, and the Clean Power Plan will help with that. If we can learn anything from the current public health crisis facing our state with the lead poisoning in Flint, it is that we cannot wait until it is too late to make the changes necessary to guarantee everyone a right to live healthfully.
She's right. Michigan is blessed with abundant natural resources, including the Great Lakes and the rugged beauty of the Upper Peninsula. The state's future depends on protecting these resources for the health and enjoyment of its residents and tourists.
Efforts to make Michigan "the clean state" also could provide a much-need image boost. The Flint water crisis has reinforced Michigan's long-held image of being a dirty, industrial, rust-belt state. The crisis makes a mockery of Tim Allen's soothing narration in those pastoral Pure Michigan ads.
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