PWIR: What Do a 25ft Rubber Ducky and a Chevy Volt Have in Common?

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!

On Tuesday the 25ft rubber ducky and a fleet of electric vehicles shared the lawn of the Capitol in Lansing. With children’s environmental health advocates thronging through the Capitol that day, and the Big Three testifying in favor of the future of electric vehicles in Michigan, the juxtaposition of these two symbols on the Capitol lawn was coincidental, though not as disconnected as you may think. They both represent essential answers to how we improve our quality of life in our everyday lives in Michigan.

Of course, other issues beyond giant inflatable bath toys occupied Lansing over the past seven days. In this week’s Political Week in Review:

Good news and good stories from a busy Tuesday in Lansing, in two acts: Electric vehicles and children’s health Two Michigan LCV Board members pen an article on how to evaluate how green a legislator is, actually. This week’s "quick hits," a new feature highlighting important pieces of news at the intersection of environment and politics A busy Tuesday in Lansing: Act I

The day started in a joint meeting of the energy and technology committees from botth the House and Senate. It was an all-star line-up testifying throughout the day, and it was kicked off by the Public Service Commission (PSC) Chairman, Orjiakor Isiogu. The Chairman spoke briefly about the huge economic and environmental benefits available to Michigan if the electric vehicle industry prospers in Michigan.

Remarkably, the legislators did not ask any questions of the Chairman. A good one would have been, “what more can we do to ensure that Michigan becomes the worldwide leader in electric vehicle (EV) production?” Perhaps they were just eager to get to the test-driving?

Before the Representatives and Senators got behind the wheel of a Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid, Chrysler Ram plug-in, or Chevy Volt, however, each of the Big Three automakers spoke to the importance of EVs from their unique perspectives and the potential for ever-greater job creation and innovation. Ford is even assembling electrified Focuses in a plant with substantial on-site solar power, a combo that exemplifies the ideal scenario: EVs powered by renewable energy.

Although Michigan LCV will continue to keep you updated on the progress of making all the vehicles on our roads cleaner and cheaper to drive, I would recommend you check out the Plug-in Michigan website, as well.

A busy Tuesday in Lansing: Act II

As Ford was winding down their testimony, the Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health was just ramping up. Their goal for the day was to mobilize over six dozen energized citizens to speak to their legislators about the need for public disclosure of which children’s products contain truly damaging toxins.

The "lobby day" kicked off with a press conference in front of the giant ducky followed by over 70 nurses, mothers, kids, and other concerned voters fannig out through dozens of legislative offices over the next six hours. Armed with folders of information and tiny rubber ducks (made of a tested, safe plastic), the motivated constituents made their mark in Lansing. Michigan LCV was proud to help lead groups throughout the day.

Personally, I had the wonderful opportunity to team up with five smart and passionate nursing students from Madonna University, as well as a concerned mother and her little girl, Katie. The personal stories that each of these concerned citizens told to their legislators allowed me to take a back seat and simply be there to support their sincere pleas for common-sense action. Plainly stated, the state of Michigan should enable the public to know which toys contain toxic elements that poison and damage children, notably in their early stages of development. What more could I really add to the discussion, anyway, after Katie handed a Representative a rubber ducky and asked for his help? (By her own request, Katie was our designated ducky deliverer).

A true account of the “greenness” of West Michigan legislators

On Earth Day this year, the Grand Rapids Press ran a long article on how green the elected officials in their region are. The only problem was that they asked the legislators, themselves, and had no criteria for defining "green". Of course, all the elected officials thought pretty highly of themselves and reported as much to the Press. Fortunately, Michigan LCV exists to answer that important question without bias.

Two of our Board Members from West Michigan, Elizabeth Lykins and Bill Farr, a Democrat and a Republican, respectively, took it upon themselves to send in a response. Please take a minute or two to read their op-ed even if you don’t live in West Michigan; the points they highlight are applicable anywhere in the state.

As long as I’m highlighting the importance of the work we do in holding our elected officials across the state accountable, I’m also going to ask for your help in supporting our efforts to continue doing so. I try to avoid doing this often in these Political Week in Reviews, so please take the chance, now, to donate to Michigan LCV. We can’t do this kind of work – and I can’t write these weekly updates – without your generosity.

"Quick Hits"

In case you missed it, here are a handful of news items from over the past week that you may find interesting:

Another Michigan LCV Board member and former Congressman, Mark Schauer, wrote about the economic engine that clean energy represents for Michigan. President Obama unfortunately goes in the other direction and decides to open the United States for more off-shore drilling. The President’s justification for this is an effort to lower gas prices, but there’s one problem: it doesn’t. Closer to home, a self-described “guy who loves to fish and whose business depends on the quality of Michigan’s rivers” (who is also a board member of the Anglers of the Au Sable), is not at all happy that Michigan is the 10th worst state in the nation for toxic mercury pollution. But then again, who would be?

Until next week,

Ryan Werder, Political Director

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