Environment Picture

Bell ringers! Environmental successes won in recent weeks

Completed Streets!
A strong step toward more attractive, livable cities was achieved with passage of Michigan Complete Streets legislation in July. Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed the measure, which requires state planners to consider non-motorized travel when building street infrastructure. The goal is safer, more bikeable, walkable and accessible cities that encourage healthier lifestyles and vibrant business districts. A diverse coalition led by the League of Michigan Bicyclists and MEC was instrumental in securing the victory.

Coal plants fall
Two more proposed coal plants —Consumers Energy’s Bay City plant and a municipal plant in Holland—have run into brick walls. Consumers shelved its plant after citing a lack of demand for the electricity, echoing an argument used by MEC and other groups for years. Holland’s permit was denied by state regulators in August for similar reasons. Opportunities for meeting electric demand through energy efficiency technology and construction are expected to be buoyed by the decisions.

“Junk food” ban
Michigan’s ban on phosphorus in dishwashing detergent became effective July 1. Phosphorus is junk food for aquatic plants. It contributes to algae blooms, runaway plant growth (and die off) and depleted oxygen levels in waterways. Dishwashing detergent is a tiny bit of the problem (fertilizers on residential lawns and on farm fields are some of the bigger contributors) but one that is no longer an issue in Michigan.

Transit turnout
Thousands of Michigan citizens will provide input to the state’s passenger rail future at the completion of 16 Michigan by Rail forums that run through late this fall. The forums are sponsored by MEC and Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers, along with local groups. What started as a small idea mushroomed into a statewide road show—testament to the intense interest Michiganders have in a rail system that can connect them conveniently to places they want to live, work and play.
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