PWIR: A Smorgasbord of Clean Energy and Water News

A weekly update on environmental policy happenings from Ryan Werder, Political Director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters (Twitter: @rjwerder).

Sometimes it’s hard to find coverage related to clean energy and clean water in the news. That’s not the case this week, though. Not by a long shot. In this week’sPolitical Week in Review:

Reviewing Renewable Energy in the State Senate

One of the most important laws regarding Michigan’s energy future was recently opened for discussion in the State Senate. The law, called Public Act 295, moves Michigan utilities to produce 10% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2015. Right now, Michigan is right on track to reach that.

Although it is hardly the most ambitious standard in the nation, it’s a start. Colorado, for example, mandates 30% of their energy from renewable sources by 2020, a goal they jumped up from 10% after seeing huge economic boosts in the clean energy sector. While the discussion in committee has, thus far, not touched on any kind of ambitious Colorado-esque boost, there has also been little discussion of rolling it back.

Consumers Energy, Michigan’s second largest energy provider, noted that “a lot of good things are happening for renewable energy.” In addition, as a key report on Public Act 295 from the Michigan Public Service Commission earlier this year states, renewable energy is far cheaper to produce than coal. Energy efficiency, of course, remains the cheapest means of providing power.

In short, the state of Michigan is moving in the right direction, but if we reach a bit more and show a bit more ambition, we can follow Colorado’s lead and build ourselves a booming clean energy industry right here in Michigan. That’s what the environmental and clean energy business communities are advocating. It will be interesting to see what the Michigan State Senate decides to do.

More great high speed rail news!

Two weeks ago, a bill was signed into law that made funds available forthe purchase and improvement of high speed rail lines from Dearborn to Kalamazoo. The Feds like that idea so much, it seems, that on top of the federal grants we just tapped into they are now allocating an additional $196.5 million to improve those tracks further and make the trip that much faster.

Personally, I have some family in Chicago so this new construction means that I can soon leave my car, tailpipe emissions, and gas money at home and simply take the train. I need to emphasize the “new construction” part of this, too, because it’s important work. More specifically, it means 800 new jobs worth of work.

If you are also grateful for the attention and success on high speed rail,take one minute right now to join us in thanking your elected official by clicking here. I know my mom certainly is… quicker, cheaper, cleaner rail means I’ll be visiting more often.

We are proud to sponsor the coverage of the Great Lakes conferences

There hasn’t been a Great Lakes gathering like the one coming to Detroit this week since… ever. The major governmental and non-governmental Great Lakes organizations are all coming together to the Motor City to focus on the lakes that define our region on both the Canadian and US sides of the border.

The Michigan LCV Education Fund is a proud sponsor of the week’s events.

The Great Lakes define Michigan and all of us who live here, so it is our privilege to support the exciting collaboration and collective knowledge that is streaming into Detroit this week to keep our beaches clean, our wildlife healthy, and our state’s heritage intact.

Tune in to the conference’s live, streaming video (courtesy of Detroit Public Television) at anytime by visiting

Electric vehicle panel attracts attention

The potential for Michigan’s electric vehicle (EV) industry is making Michiganders and the media more and more excited. Last week,Michigan LCV Education Fund hosted a panel of experts in Grand Rapids at Grand Valley State University to further showcase the Chevy Volt (literally, there was one on display for the event) and the exciting prospects of its upcoming cousins from Ford and others.

Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell, a student studying to be an EV engineer, and other experts all spoke as to why they feel EVs are an important investment for Michigan. In short, it is jobs, jobs, jobs, cheaper travel, lower emissions, and… more jobs. Feel free to check out theMichigan LCV Education Fund report on EV jobs in Michigan.

The event was covered statewide, as well as in the local press. If Grand Rapids was too far for you to travel, though, I’d encourage you to check out another Built by Michigan electric vehicle event taking place in Warren tonight at 7:00p.

Congratulations to Senator Rebekah Warren!

On Wednesday, the (Republican) Senate Majority Leader appointed the (Democratic) Senator from Ann Arbor, Rebekah Warren, to the Great Lakes Commission (GLC). The GLC is the international body comprised of eight states and two Canadian provinces that advocates for the Great Lakes with a unified voice. Senator Warren is exactly the kind of elected official we are always proud to support – a pragmatic voice that works with both parties to achieve significant results. We couldn’t be more excited to see Senator Warren represent Michigan on the GLC. Congratulations, Senator!

One more event reminder: Saugatuck Dunes

The fight to protect the majestic Saugatuck Dunes isn’t over. To learn more, I would encourage you to attend a forum put on by the Holland Chapter of the League of Women Voters. It is at 6:30p tonight at Saugatuck High School. More info here.

Until next week,

Ryan Werder
Political Director


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