PWIR: Ban on Offshore Wind Power in Michigan?

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

Elections matter. Before the last election, the 101st State House District in Northwest Michigan boasted one of the most forward-thinking legislators on clean energy in the state. Today, the new representative from that district is proposing a ban on offshore wind energy in Michigan.

Other examples of electoral consequences from all levels of government in this week’s Political Week in Review:

  • A new ad is released attacking those who are attacking the Clean Air Act
  • The Michigan Court of Appeals issued an important ruling, protecting Michigan waters
  • A brief update on the attempts to gut the EPA in the Senate
  • The President’s long-term energy plan for America’s future summarized in 75 words.

The Take-Your-Clean-Energy-Jobs-Elsewhere Bill

Not a week after a report was released on the 4000 wind energy jobs currently existing in Michigan – with thousands more projected – State Representative Ray Franz introduced legislation to ban offshore wind energy in the state.

A direct quote from Representative Franz on this subject is that offshore wind is a “hazard to nature and the economy.” The four wind power companies either in or within minutes of his own district would likely disagree. Overall, Michigan has 120 wind energy-related companies, a vast majority of whom be hit hard by this kind of legislation.

For now, Representative Franz’s bill is only in committee, but you can certainly expect to hear more on this job-killing legislation in the near future from the thousands of Michiganders who would have to head out of the state to do their work if this were to go through.

Court affirms important CAFO ruling

Just as elections matter, so do decisions from the judicial branch. This week, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that all Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) must obtain permits before they pollute. The idea here is that their “potential to pollute” is sufficient to require a permit, rather than waiting until they actually pollute.

The importance of this relates to our state’s water and lakes, as the discharges – and you can imagine what is included in the discharges from large animal farms like this – flow into our groundwater, rivers, and potentially our drinking water. This ruling will help to ensure that proper protections for Michigan’s water are in place from day one.

New ad attacking Clean Air Act attacks goes on TV

A new ad that, very explicitly, tells of the dangers that children will face if the EPA is gutted by the US House and Senate is now on the air. You can watch it here.

In the Senate, the votes on many dangerous attacks on the Clean Air act via policy riders – amendments that tack often-controversial policy decisions on unrelated spending bills – were delayed again. But the battle is not over, and even Senator Stabenow has introduced her own bad amendment that seeks to delay enforcement of the Clean Air Act.

These continued delays owe much to voters speaking to their senators. Here, again, are Senator Levin’s number and Senator Stabenow’s number. Please call them and tell them to vote “no” on all EPA policy riders.

President Obama lays out his plan for America’s energy future…

…And I try to describe it in 75 words. (Disclaimer: The original speech was just shy of 6,000 words and far more eloquent.)

“America cannot continue our reliance on foreign oil. In a decade, we will cut that reliance by a third… but we will still ‘expedite’ offshore drilling for now. We’ll use natural gas, too, but need to extract it safely. Cars need to be more efficient (and need to be made here), especially electric vehicles. We need more renewable energy, because it’s good and other countries are consistently beating us at it. Let’s get to it.”

There are real implications here for Michigan, even tucked into this condensed version. Fracking, or deep horizontal drilling for gas or oil, continues to expand in Michigan without sufficient regulations in place to conduct it safely; electric vehicles and renewable energy are some of the most prominent job creators in the state right now; and unless Michigan acts now, other states will beat us in the race to catch up to those other nations.

Let us, indeed, get to it (minus the offshore drilling, of course).

Until next week,

Ryan Werder, Political Director

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