CO2 2022/2021 : 417.92 ppm / 415.03 ppm
Dear Michigan Climate News readers,
We're one step closer to a serious climate bill after the Inflation Reduction Act passed the U.S. Senate Sunday. The bill contains substantial ($369 billion) spending for clean energy development.
Not everyone is happy, especially environmental justice advocates who say the bill does little to help frontline communities and may subject them to more fossil fuel infrastructure and air pollution. And even with tax credits, it's not clear that anyone but the most well-off will be able to afford EVs anytime soon. Perhaps that's why EV charging stations so far have been mostly installed in higher-income neighborhoods.
In other climate news, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is joining attorneys general in six other states to find new ways to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
Enjoy your week!
— Nina Ignaczak, Editor of Michigan Climate News + Planet Detroit
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THIS WEEK'S NEWS
Climate and oil bill: On Sunday, the U.S. Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes $369 billion in climate spending and is expected to pass the House and be signed by President Biden. Although smaller in scope than the proposed Build Back Better legislation, the bill would still deliver a significant amount of money for renewable energy, electric cars and energy efficiency home upgrades. Independent analyses say these investments could reduce U.S. emissions by between 31% and 44% from 2005 levels by 2030. And the research group Energy Innovation predicts the bill could create upwards of 1.5 million jobs by 2030 and prevent 3,900 premature deaths and 100,000 asthma attacks by reducing air pollution. However, the bill also includes provisions for new oil drilling in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico and stipulates that federal lands opened up to renewable energy also need to allow for fossil fuels. The Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition said in a statement that a permitting reform side-deal, which several Democratic legislators seem to have agreed on as part of the Inflation Reduction Act negotiations, could pave the way for more toxic facilities in low-income areas and communities of color that already suffer outsize impacts from fossil fuel infrastructure. (Guardian, E&E)
Supply chain woes: One of the biggest impacts of the Inflation Reduction Act in Michigan might be the rebates it provides for electric vehicles. The plan offers $7,500 for the purchase of a new electric vehicle and $4,000 for a used EV, along with billions of dollars in loans and grants for auto manufacturing facilities that produce these vehicles. Yet the bill will phase out subsidies for new cars with components from a “foreign entity of concern” over the next few years. This could hurt automakers sourcing materials from China, although it could also help boost domestic production. Supply chains and charging infrastructure are likely to take years to develop, meaning only the affluent will likely be in a position to purchase an electric vehicle soon. Electric vehicle sales have increased dramatically recently, nearly doubling from 308,000 in 2020 to 608,000 in 2021. (MI Radio, WaPo)
Where’s the juice? Electric vehicle users in Detroit are finding it difficult to power up their cars, with most of the charging stations clustered around downtown and the Cass Corridor, part of a nationwide trend that’s seen EV charging infrastructure placed mostly in wealthier and whiter areas. “Money goes where usually money is, and a lot of the infrastructure right now it’s going towards those more affluent communities,” said Kwabena “Q” Johnson, president of Plug Zen, a Detroit company that builds charging stations. And although the state is installing chargers at state parks along Lake Michigan as part of a multi-state effort to drive tourism, there are currently no chargers at Belle Isle, one of the most popular state parks. As electric vehicles fall in price and sales increase, William McCoy, with the company Vehya, is training Detroiters to install EV chargers. “Electricians get paid a lot of money,” he said. “A lot of people of color just don’t know that this is… an up and coming opportunity.” (Bridge Detroit, Freep)
New strategy: Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined attorneys general from six other states to ask the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to consider establishing National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for greenhouse gases. This follows the Supreme Court’s decision in West Virginia v. EPA, limiting the agency’s ability to fight climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. "Michigan's average yearly temperature has increased by two to three degrees Fahrenheit since 1900, an undeniable result of greenhouse gases trapping heat in the atmosphere," Nessel said in a press release. "Adopting National Ambient Air Quality Standards for greenhouse gases is vital if we are going to lessen the effects of climate change, the greatest global health threat of the 21st Century.” Some have speculated that using the NAAQS to limit carbon emissions might be more acceptable to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. (E&E)
JOIN US FRIDAY, AUGUST 25 at NOON for LUNCH & LEARN
What is 'carbon fundamentalism' and why do justice advocates oppose it?
Join Planet Detroit’s managing editor as we talk with Michelle Martinez, inaugural director of the Tishman Center for Social and Environmental Justice at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment & Sustainability. Martinez has 15 years of experience of practicing environmental justice in her hometown Detroit. Most recently she served as Executive Director of the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition; she is a founding member of the Coalition and continues to serve on the board. Michelle also serves on the Board of Directors of We the People Michigan, and is a contributing columnist to Planet Detroit, an online publication serving Detroit audiences with climate and environmental news.
We’ll talk about climate change, carbon justice, and why Martinez and other justice advocates believe a “carbon fundamentalist” approach will only get us so far in the fight against climate change.
Michelle Martinez, Director, Tishman Center for Social and Environmental Justice at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment & Sustainability
Moderated by Nina Ignaczak, Editor, Planet Detroit and Michigan Climate News
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