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The package of energy proposals announced by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder Dec. 19 is a major step forward toward making Michigan healthier and more prosperous, according to Alexis Blizman, legislative and policy director at the Ecology Center.
Governor Snyder’s plans, the result of months of study by state officials and discussions with organizations, individuals and business leaders across the state, emphasize reducing the use of coal for power generation and eliminating waste by promoting energy efficiency. Reports issued as part of the planning process have outlined major opportunities for Michigan to become more energy efficient and more reliant on renewable energy.
“The governor deserves praise for prioritizing these issues,” Blizman said. “Coal burning for power generation is incredibly wasteful and a major threat to public health throughout Michigan. We can reduce the amount of coal we use by promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy, and we’re pleased to see that the governor is embracing those strategies.”
Governor Snyder outlined the broad-reaching proposals in a meeting with reporters in Lansing Dec. 19. Among other initiatives, he’s calling for protecting public health and the Great Lakes by reducing mercury emissions, acid rain and air-borne particulates, all of which result from coal-burning power plants. The proposals also reflect a commitment to efficiency as the most cost-effective way to reduce overall energy use.
“The public health impacts from burning coal are well documented,” said Stephanie Dernek, director of the Michigan chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “By reducing our dependence on coal, we reduce the negative impacts to health that come with fossil fuel combustion. With investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy we can make real progress for Michigan, decreasing asthma, heart disease, cancers and premature birth and death.”
State officials will work to develop the specific policies and build support with legislative leaders and stakeholders in 2014.
“In addition to Governor Snyder’s support for these issues, we’ll need leadership in the legislature to adopt these common-sense measures to protect public health and reduce costs for consumers,” Blizman said.