PWIR: Time to get strict about “no stricter” legislation

A weekly update on environmental policy happenings from Ryan Werder, Political Director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters (Twitter: @rjwerder)… Apologies for the delay in posting this week!

A dangerous bill that would tie Michigan’s hands in the effort to protect our Great Lakes is moving through the State House, much as it did through the State Senate two weeks ago. As Michiganders continued to fight back against this bad case of déjà vu, bits of good news also sprang up throughout the week.

In this week’s Political Week in Review:

“No stricter” legislation keeps rolling (unfortunately)

Despite the protests of Michigan voters, environmental organizations, and, now, the Detroit Free Press, the State House is still pursuing legislation that foolishly binds the hands of the Governor and his agencies. The bills in question would restrict Michigan from creating any regulations stricter than those already in place at the federal level. (Interested in the details and history of this issue? Here is a summary from a recent PWIR).

According to the editorial in the Freep last week, “if there’s agreement of any sort on what to regulate in this politically divided state, it’s that Michigan must maintain the type of leadership on Great Lakes issues that frequently translates into exceeding federal standards.” Well said.

Now here is the most interesting part of the editorial: The Freep editorial board cites their recent interview with the new director of Governor Snyder’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs when they write that “some Great Lakes issues might require standards beyond those of the federal government; that may be reason enough for Snyder to threaten a veto.”

As we border 20% of the world’s fresh water, we have a unique obligation to protect it. James Clift from the Michigan Environmental Councilphrased it well in committee last week when he testified that this legislation would essentially “demote the Governor.” Whether it was Governor Milliken’s actions to save Lake Erie from the chokehold of rapidly-spreading algae blooms or Governor Granholm’s efforts to ensure thoughtful long-term energy planning, governors from both parties have historically relied on the flexibility their office provides to tailor Michigan’s specific regulations to our specific needs.

Tell your Representative not to give away Michigan’s right to protect our water. Look up your own elected official here and tell them to vote “no” on House Bill 4326. We also have voters from all over the state submitting letters to the editor on this subject. If you’re interested in joining them, please let me know!

Electric Vehicles: Connecting Michigan’s Past and Future

On Thursday, the Michigan LCV Education Fund released a report that highlights how Michigan is ideally poised to become an enduring world-wide hub for EV production and research. It features exclusive interviews with industry leaders, over a dozen case studies from every corner of the state, a menu of recommended policy options, and a table breaking down the job creation numbers for EVs across the state.

Click here for the full report: Electric Vehicles: Connecting Michigan’s Past and Future

While I absolutely recommend reading the full report, you can find the executive summary here. You can also watch this quick video that broadly follows the outline of the report to get the sense of how widely the positive ripples of this EV wave are already being felt.

Upton upsets 49% of his constituents with his new turn against EPA and clean air

A poll released last week shows that 49% of Congressman Fred Upton’s constituents are not at all pleased with his newfound crusade against the EPA and the Clean Air Act. Those polled said they were “less likely” to vote for him since he began using his new role as Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee to assault the EPA’s ability to patrol greenhouse gas emissions as well as for his work to dismantle the public health protections in the Clean Air Act.

Quick hits – News items from the intersection of environment and politics

The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge celebrated a decade of existence and progress on Saturday. It is a beautiful and perpetual reminder of the consistent need for conservation champions in Washington, as it was originally established by an act of congress introduced by Congressman Dingell.

One of the major supporters of the Refuge, Consumers Energy, received some big news this week from the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC). The MPSC mandated that Consumers must expand their solar energy program, as opposed to shutting it down, which they initially requested. The MPSC is governed by appointees made by the Governor’s office.

Finally, speaking of alternative energy, GM is taking a page out of the “Back to the Future” screenplay and powering cars with trash. Well, technically, they are ?

Until next week,

Ryan Werder, Political Director


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