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Lights out: The climate crisis is making it harder for Michigan utilities to provide reliable service on account of more powerful storms knocking out power lines. Although Michigan residents experience an average number of disconnections, these last much longer than in other states. Nationally the average length of a disconnection per customer is 194.5 minutes, but in Michigan, the typical outage lasts for 350 minutes. Some municipalities, including Ann Arbor, are looking to municipalize utilities to cut down on outage times. “When the power goes out or there’s a storm in the area, our lineman and line crews live in the communities and know when it goes out, so they’re very quick to respond and restore it,” said Katie Abraham, the chief executive officer of the Michigan Municipal Electric Association. Moving power lines underground is another approach for preventing blackouts that is being explored by both public and private utilities. (Detroit News)

Climate tax: This spring, Ann Arbor voters could decide whether to add a property tax that would be used to implement climate action initiatives. Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor says the city lacks the funding to enact its A2Zero plan, which would expand clean energy production, create new electric vehicle charging infrastructure, provide energy efficiency upgrades for homes and businesses, and add bikeways and pedestrian infrastructure among other measures. “Fundamentally, these are investments and work that we can’t afford not to undertake,” said Ann Arbor Council Member Erica Briggs. “The status-quo scenario is too scary.” It’s estimated the tax could bring in $6.8 million in the first year. (MLive)


Impacts: Indigenous people in the U.S. are more vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis due to the historic loss of land, according to a new study co-written by Kylie White, a professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Environment and Sustainability. Since 1492, Indigenous nations have lost nearly 99 percent of their land and 40 percent of tribes have no federally recognized land. “On the whole, Indigenous peoples are disproportionately vulnerable to the impacts of climate change because colonial practices forced so many to cede their ancestral homelands and relocate to more marginal and less productive parts of the modern landscape,” Robin Beck, curator of Eastern North American archaeology at the U-M Museum of Anthropological Archaeology, wrote in an email. “As climate change unfolds, particularly in areas susceptible to drought and extreme heat, these places and the peoples who live there will bear the brunt of its effects.” (Michigan Daily)

Better for some: Last week, President Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) framework passed the House and moved one step closer to becoming a reality. Among other things, the legislation would spend $555 billion on mitigating climate change. Yet, critics warn this does little to advance Biden’s own “Justice40” goal for sending 40 percent of government investments in clean energy and climate change to disadvantaged communities. They say that BBB fails to create jobs in areas where new energy infrastructure is built or create wealth-building opportunities for disadvantaged populations. However, $473 billion in BBB funds will go to federal agencies that may be able to direct investments to these communities. Meanwhile, BBB may be a boon for DTE Energy, which says that incentives for renewable energy in the legislation could help them retire coal plants early. (Hill, Detroit News)

The NRA of snow: Historically, the ski industry has avoided politics and several years ago the president of the International Ski Federation, Gian Franco Kasper, even expressed doubt about the reality of climate change. But times are changing as the climate crisis reduces the number of snow days in the United States and threatens to put half of all Northeast ski resorts out of business by 2050. An estimated 50 million U.S. citizens participate in outdoor sports like skiing and rock climbing, a vocal minority that could become an important voting block. For example, the group POW enlisted outdoor athletes to endorse Democratic Senator Jon Tester in Montana and they’ve solicited funding from outdoor brands like Patagonia and Burton to help push climate action. “Think about gun owners, and then think about who’s just as amped up, passionate, influential, wealthy, crazed? Well, it’s the outdoor [community]. These are all fanatics,” said Aspen Skiing Company senior vice president of sustainability Auden Schendler. “This is an unmobilized cohort that could swing elections.” (Eos)

Confronting the crisis: Following the disappointing Cop26 climate summit and facing the necessity of needing to reduce emissions drastically by 2030 in order to avert the worst of the climate crisis, many are wondering what they can do to take action on climate while also dealing with their own fear and anxiety about the growing threat. Rebecca Solnit offers ten strategies for handling these challenges. These include engaging in communal action to work for system-level change and looking to history see how movements around civil rights and gay rights allowed groups to change the course of history. Finally, she urges the reader to pay attention to the beauty of the natural world. “Part of what we are fighting for is beauty, and this means giving your attention to the beauty in the present,” she writes. “If you forget what you’re fighting for, you can become miserable, bitter and lost.” (Guardian)


What questions do you have about the environment and climate change in Michigan? Please let us know by reaching out to me at nina@planetdetroit.org. NOTE: Please don't reply to this email, it will go into a digital neth of coal power rather than a “phase-out”. Experts say that based on the goals set at the conference, the world is still on track for


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