Are Michigan's corporations driving green energy investment?

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CO2 2022/2021 : 415.7 ppm / 413.08 ppm

Dear Michigan Climate News readers,

In this week's issue, we have the latest headlines plus our monthly state policy update. And please join us on Friday, Sept. 30 at noon for a conversation on "What is ‘utility redlining’ and why does it matter for DTE customers?" SIGN UP HERE

Enjoy your week!

— Nina Ignaczak, Editor of Michigan Climate News + Planet Detroit

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County ‘resilience authority’: Washtenaw County officials are considering steps like electrifying county buildings and vehicles to meet their goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2035. But much bigger changes will be needed to reduce the 4.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide that homes and businesses produce countywide. Among 45 actions being considered in a draft plan is the creation of a “regional resilience authority,” which would have staff and funding to advocate for sustainability programming. The draft plan also includes a proposal for resilience hubs to help residents deal with climate disasters like heat waves. “As we all know because of climate change we’re going to go from between four and six days of excessive heat every year to between 10 and 20. That is particularly a concern for vulnerable communities,” said Chip Smith, with the Detroit civil engineering firm Wade Trim. (MLive)

Nuclear question: Several environmental groups are pushing back against plans to reopen the Palisades nuclear power plant in southwest Michigan. Although Governor Gretchen Whitmer supports a plan to reopen the plant, saying it would protect jobs and provide “clean, reliable energy,” groups like the Sierra Club’s Michigan chapter and the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy wrote a letter expressing their opposition. In a June letter to the governor, the Michigan Sierra Club argued that renewable energy is cheaper and cleaner than nuclear power and that the cost and danger of reopening the plant would be unnecessary. (Detroit News)

The lightest element: Midwestern states are partnering to develop the use of hydrogen as a fuel source for automobiles and industry that could replace climate-warming fossil fuels. The partnership, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, may be able to draw on funds set aside in last year’s federal infrastructure law for developing regional hubs to develop and distribute clean hydrogen. Environmentalists have challenged the use of hydrogen as a fuel source because climate-warming natural gas is often used to produce it. Yet, hydrogen can be manufactured using renewable energy, and some argue it could be essential for powering industries like shipping and aviation that would otherwise be difficult to decarbonize. (AP, CNBC)

Garbage gas: Michigan officials are reviewing a permit application for a new “renewable natural gas” plant at the Arbor Hills landfill in Salem Township. Building the plant was one possible action listed as part of a settlement between the landfill owners and Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) after a lawsuit alleged the landfill failed to control emissions from the site and violated other environmental regulations. “The (renewable natural gas) plant is the best option for the community,” wrote The Conservancy Initiative, a group formed to push back against the landfill’s expansion. But, while the facility might reduce local impacts on air quality, others have argued that “renewable natural gas” shares many problems with regular natural gas, including leaky pipes, and isn’t a substitute for electrifying the power grid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (MLive, Reuters, Vox)

Message from corporate: Businesses are helping increase the buildout of wind energy through voluntary ”green pricing” programs, where customers pay a premium to get energy from renewable sources. “Voluntary green pricing programs are becoming a major driver of new renewable energy growth in Michigan,” the Michigan Public Service Commission said in a yearly renewable energy report issued in February. Comcast, General Motors and Ford Motor Company are all participating in these programs, which create “additionality” by adding new renewable power to the grid. Ford’s recent deal to purchase renewable power was especially significant, adding 650 megawatts of new solar or a 70% increase in solar production statewide. (MiBiz)

Policy Tracker: Huron River incidents revive calls for polluter pay laws

Recent chemical spills on the Huron River have led to calls for Michigan to renew its “polluter pay” laws to ensure polluted sites are cleaned up and municipalities aren’t left paying to manage pollution. READ MORE>>>

JOIN US LIVE: What is ‘utility redlining’ and why does it matter for DTE customers?

Join Planet Detroit’s managing editor as we talk with We the People Research Director and Alex B. Hill and consultant Jackson Koeppel, co-authors of the policy brief Utility Redlining: Distribution in the DTE Service Area. We will also be joined by Shawn Patterson, DTE’s vice president of Environmental Management and Safety.


What questions do you have about the environment and climate change in Michigan? Please let us know by reaching out to me at or hit reply!


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