Michigan — July 30, 2009 at 12:44 pm

Mich. Gov. issues significant climate change executive order


In November of 2007, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm issued an executive order establishing the Michigan Climate Action Council (MCAC). Over the course of the next 16 months, the MCAC, a collection of stakeholders from across the spectrum, developed a 125-page document, the Michigan Climate Action Council Climate Action Plan [.pdf] which contains 53 recommendations for reducing the impacts of climate change.

Yesterday, during the Clean Energy Now! rally on the lawn of the Michigan Capitol, we learned via Twitter that Governor Granholm had signed a second executive order, EXECUTIVE DIRECTIVE No. 2009-4, that implements several of the MCAC’s recommendations, all aimed at achieving the MCAC’s stated goal of delivering a 20% reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases by 2020 and an 80% reduction by 2050.

Here’s the tweet we received from “govgranholm”:

Just signed Climate Action Council exec. order – 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050; 20% reduction by 2020. GREAT news for Michigan!

The Michigan Climate Action Council is composed of 35 different representatives [.pdf] from groups ranging from energy companies and corporations to government groups and native American tribes. Their goals were to:

  • Produce an inventory and forecast of greenhouse gas sources and emissions from 1990-2020.
  • Consider potential state and multi-state actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change in various sectors including energy supply, energy efficiency and conservation, industrial process and waste management, transportation and land use, and agriculture and forestry.
  • Develop a comprehensive climate action plan with specific recommendations for reducing greenhouse gases in Michigan by business, government and the general public.
  • Advise state and local government on measures to address climate change.

They came up with 54 total recommendations. 52 of these were approved unanimously, one was not unanimous and the last was rejected. The MCAC estimates that, if implemented, their recommendations would “result in overall net cumulative savings in Michigan of more than $10 billion between 2009 and 2025, with additional significant cost savings between 2020 and 2050.

Governor Granholm’s executive order implements nine of these recommendations, including:

  • Revising building codes to include higher energy efficiency standards.
  • Reducing vehicular congestion in major urban areas by expanding the use of intelligent transportation systems, mitigating bottlenecks, and constructing roundabouts.
  • Developing a truck idling program for the state fleet of trucks, buses and heavy-duty equipment that will reduce emissions created by unnecessary idling.
  • Creating an eco-driver program for all employees using state vehicles that will educate them on how to maximize vehicle fuel economy.
  • Expanding the Michigan Conservation and Climate Initiative to educate farmers in carbon sequestration (capture) practices that can be applied to their land.

At the Clean Energy Now! rally yesterday, one of the speakers was Frank Ettawageshik, the past Chair of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians and a member of the MCAC. During his talk, he discussed the native American concept of thinking and making decisions while taking into account seven generations into the future. He said that when you do this, decisions that might seem easy to make take on a new dimension when seven generations are considered.

This was the case with one of the Council’s recommendations which had six opposing votes and two abstentions: the promotion of “New Nuclear Power”. Ettawageshik told the rally crowd that, when looked at in the near-term, the decision to promote nuclear power seems easy and smart. But when looked at from the perspective of seven future generations, the decision changes. As he pointed out, nuclear waste requires oversight for a longer period of time than any civilization has existed in the history of our planet.

Perhaps as we consider the major issues of our day like climate change/pollution, health care reform, education and others, we, too, should think in terms of several future generations. Our lawmakers today seem incapable of thinking beyond several future months or years (i.e., election cycles) and that, I believe, harms us all.

I’m just sayin’…