UPDATED: New Michigan Republican legislation would prohibit wind farms on the Great Lakes


Who knew we had six wind energy scientists in the state legislature?

Six Michigan Republicans have decided that Michigan shall not have wind energy installations on the Great Lakes. Why? Not, supposedly, because they are against renewable, clean wind energy. No, it’s because they have decided that (a) it’s not feasible and (b) we should never conduct studies to determine that it’s not feasible.

The bill, House Bill 4778 was introduced by Republican Ray Franz and has five co-sponsors: Greg MacMaster, Tim Kelly, Pat Somerville, Bob Genetski, and Jon Bumstead.

The relevant parts of the bill read thusly:

The department shall not enter into a lease or deed that allows the use of unpatented lands for the siting, placement, construction, operation, or maintenance of any structure to research wind energy development, any wind turbine, or any equipment or structure related to a wind turbine, including, but not limited, to a transmission line.


The department shall not grant a permit under this part for the siting, placement, construction, operation, or maintenance of any structure to research wind energy development, any wind turbine, or any equipment or structure related to a wind turbine, including, but not limited to, a transmission line.

With this legislation, they would prohibit the granting of leases or deeds for wind farms and prevent any research installations from being built to determine the feasibility of wind farms in Michigan.

Here’s their justification, via Michigan Radio:

MacMaster and Franz say they aren’t against advancing wind powered energy in the state, they just believe that the Great Lakes cannot support offshore wind. They say the icy nature of the waters surrounding Michigan would destroy the turbines, possibly leaving taxpayers liable.

They’ve already decided for us that this is true and want to ensure they are never proven wrong.

It’s absurd because, according to wind studies already done, Michigan’s Great Lakes coastlines are prime locations for such energy production:

[Graphic from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory]

I think it’s time to see where these legislators get money for their campaigns. A cursory look shows that Ray Franz, for example, has received thousands of dollars from CMS Energy and DTE Energy. McMasters has taken money from the MI Petroleum PAC.

What a surprise.

UPDATE: I neglected to mention that Franz has introduced this legislation before, back in 2011

He claimed then that:

It’s not environmentally sound to have machines like these on our lakes. They are our greatest asset, and industrialization on them is a hazard to nature and the economy.

Also, too:

Nuclear is clean, there are no emissions…The waste “problem” has already been solved…

Apparently Franz is unaware that, in fact, the waste problem has decidedly NOT been resolved and, more importantly, all of the current nuclear plants in Michigan ARE ON THE SHORES OF THE GREAT LAKES.

You can see why he’s changed his explanation for his anti-wind power position. It was even more absurd two years ago than it is today.

[CC wind turbine image credit: Caveman Chuck Coker | Flickr]

  • Scott Urbanowski

    So they *do* support government regulation of businesses – when such businesses would help move Michigan into the 21st century!

  • kirke123

    hmmm, looks like someone got advance notice, perhaps fossil fuel?

  • How did I know, even before I read it, that Big Energy money had to be behind “Let’s not allow wind power on the Great Lakes and let’s not allow any studies or discussion about it, end of story”? I don’t know. . .maybe because it makes no sense at all and they’re Republicans and this is Michigan, wholly-owned by ALEC, the Mackinac Center, the Koch Brothers and, apparently, the oil and gas industries.

    We can talk against these things until we’re blue in the face but in the end they will do what they always do: whatever the hell they want.

  • trunorth

    McMaster IS a scientist, he was the weatherman on teevee before he ran for office and btw so is Congressman Benishek MD, he said so and that it made it easy for him to know that global warming is a hoax

  • Nate Smith-Tyge

    Another interesting wrinkle is that Fanz’s opponent in 2012, Allen O’Shea, has a long history of working on wind farms in the Lake. It made O’Shea a somewhat controversial figure in Manistee and was one of the reasons O’Shea was a less than ideal opponent for a rather weak incumbent like Franz. So, I would also put a little vindictiveness into Franz’s motives for this bill (and he’s trying to endear himself to the Lakefront property owner set in Manistee County) – after all, Ray Franz is a mean spirited dim wit.

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