CO2 2022/2021 : 418.43 ppm / 416.08 ppm
Dear Michigan Climate News readers,
Climate hopes are brightening, with potential new federal spending on clean energy, transmission upgrades that could bring more wind energy to the Midwest, and a new network of EV charging stations along Michigan highways.
Did you know? Warming climes make great habitat for Canada geese (and their excrement) as fewer bother to fly south for the winter.
And it's primary day. We hope you got out there to vote. If not, there's still time!
— Nina Ignaczak, Editor of Michigan Climate News + Planet Detroit
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THIS WEEK'S NEWS
Surprise climate bill: In a surprising reversal, US Sen. Joe Manchin endorsed the $739 billion Inflation Reduction Act, which includes $369 billion in tax credits for renewable energy and the purchase of electric vehicles. Manchin had previously refused to sign off on the Build Back Better legislation, which included more than $500 billion for responding to climate change. However, the new bill would also mandate new oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. And Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has not yet committed to the deal. Yet, if passed, the Inflation Reduction Act could still go a long way toward meeting President Biden’s goal of reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. “It would get us 80% of the way to President Biden’s climate goal. This is a game-changer,” said Leah Stokes, a climate policy expert at the University of California, Santa Barbara. (Guardian, NY Times)
Electrifying news: The Midwest’s electrical grid operator dropped some major news last week with their approval of $10.3 billion worth of transmission infrastructure investments which could help accommodate a large amount of renewable energy. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) approved 18 projects that would add 2,000 miles of new transmission lines across the region. Although Michigan will only receive 110 miles of the new lines and 95 miles of upgrades to existing lines, the investment will help connect the state with large amounts of wind energy generated in the Great Plains. And MISO has proposed future investments that could help connect Michigan to solar power generated in the South. "Historically, you would build Michigan generation to serve Michigan load, and that worked, and that was the system that we had for the last 100 years," said Charles Marshall, vice president of planning for ITC, which owns most of the Lower Peninsula’s transmission infrastructure. "But on a going-forward basis, we recognize that you need geographic diversity. You need access to those resources removed from the state of Michigan on a real-time basis, so when they are actively generating, we can deliver that generation to the state of Michigan." (Freep)If approved, the project would secure $110 million in federal funding through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program
Charging stations: Michigan submitted a plan to the federal government for building 127 fast chargers along major highways by 2026. The project would secure $110 million in federal funding through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program if approved. There are currently 36 chargers at eight locations along the state’s “alternative fuel corridors," including interstates and U.S. highways. In the Detroit area, corridors include I-75, I-96, I-275 and I-696.
Prodigious droppings: Warmer temperatures mean many Canada geese are becoming year-round residents, further multiplying their prodigious droppings on lawns, golf courses and other green spaces. Urban areas with their associated heat islands often continue to have open water during the winter freeze, which encourages the geese to stay put rather than fly south for the winter. “We’ve created this ideal habitat that the goose really likes, which ends up being a problem because people don’t want them around,” said Stephanie Beilke, senior manager of conservation science at Audubon Great Lakes. “The common complaint is that they just make a lot of poops.” The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has several strategies for managing geese, including issuing permits to landowners to destroy nests and rounding up and relocating the birds. The state also has a long hunting season for the birds, but this is unlikely to do much to control geese in urban areas where firearm use isn’t permitted. (Bridge)
Investment vehicles: General Motors is looking to issue $2.25 billion worth of “green bonds” to pay for projects like electric vehicles, battery technology, and battery storage The company’s Sustainable Finance Framework is likely trying to secure funding at a lower cost as interest rates rise. Green bonds often offer two different rates based on performance. "The one you pay depends upon if you hit the green goals agreed upon by the company and lenders in advance, and it is measured," said Erik Gordon, a professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. "In any period you hit the green goals, you pay the lower interest rate. If you miss, you pay a higher interest rate. It actually measures performance, and the performance has dollar-and-cents consequences.” In other GM news, the company will also receive a $2.5 billion loan from the Department of Energy to build battery plants in Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. (Freep, Detroit News)
Flooding and finance: Last week, West Virginia officials announced that five major banks, including Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, would be blocked from doing business with the state because of their moves to reduce investments in new fossil fuel projects. Somewhat undermining their professed beliefs in “free markets,” Republican politicians like former Vice President Mike Pence have been targeting financial institutions over their environmental, social and governance (E.S.G.) principles, looking to undermine their move away from fossil fuels. “At what cost to human flourishing are we willing to inflict these types of restrictions as it relates to access to cheap and reliable electricity?” said West Virginia Treasurer Riley Moore, defending the state’s move to bar doing business with the banks. Several days later, flash floods hit Eastern Kentucky, not far from West Virginia, killing at least 26. Climate scientists believe these extreme weather events will become more frequent as the fossil fuel-driven climate crisis accelerates. (NY Times, Guardian)
ICYMI: Lowering carbon emissions in MI post- WV v. EPA Supreme Court Decision
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