This guest post was written by Sue Browne, Regional Program Manager for the BlueGreen Alliance.
On Tuesday at the Michigan AFL-CIO offices in Lansing, labor and environmental leaders called on Governor Snyder and state and local lawmakers to take the lead in crafting a flexible state plan to help Michigan meet its emissions reduction targets, as laid out in EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The plan includes the first ever proposal of its kind to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants—while also expanding renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts that create jobs across the state.
Mike Schulte, a staff representative with the Communications Workers of America (CWA), Bryan Grochowski of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and Dave Holtz Chair of the Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter also advocated for renewing the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which is set to expire next year.
“We can’t start soon enough on the important conversations about how to make these standards work best for Michigan,” said Mike Schulte with CWA. “It is important that Governor Snyder, lawmakers and community leaders begin the work of finding out which actions best build on our economic strengths while achieving the necessary reductions in carbon emissions.”
The leaders urged Michigan lawmakers and Governor Snyder to craft a proposal that responsibly reduces carbon pollution from key sources, upgrades infrastructure, and expands clean energy and energy efficient technologies. They emphasized that doing so will build on the progress Michigan has already made in clean energy technology—spurred by state policies like the Renewable Portfolio Standard—while creating and maintaining middle class jobs and helping to revitalize the state’s manufacturing sector.
“We are working to ensure that Michigan’s leaders will get to work crafting compliance mechanisms that are best suited to the local and regional economies,” said Bryan Grochowski with SEIU. “We need solutions that will protect existing jobs—while reducing carbon pollution—and create new job opportunities, encourage investment, and jumpstart new technologies.”
The group said the Clean Power Plan is a step forward as America works to tackle the effects of climate change, while also ensuring power reliability and fostering economic stability.
Michigan’s clean economy is helping power the state’s recovery, employing more than 76,000 workers. As Michigan expands its clean energy production, the renewable energy industry could support nearly 21,000 jobs in manufacturing alone by 2020, if the industry sources components from local manufacturers.
“Michigan has made great progress in clean energy technology and that’s been spurred by state policies like the Renewable Portfolio Standard,” said Dave Holtz with Sierra Club. “Clean, renewable energy has created and maintained middle class jobs and helped revitalize the state’s manufacturing sector. Our progress will stall if the state’s standard is allowed to expire in 2015.”
In the third quarter of 2013, Michigan ranked fourth in the nation in clean energy jobs announced. Michigan’s clean energy sector supports 20,500 jobs and $5 billion in annual economic activity.
[Photos provided by the BlueGreen Alliance]