Gov. Whitmer signs landmark climate laws
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made Michigan a national leader in the climate change fight Tuesday when she signed landmark legislation into law.
Her signature on the bills was the apex of a goal she made clear: a clean energy future. During her tenure, she launched the MI Healthy Climate Plan, invested in electric vehicle production, and called for legislative action.
"We've spent decades fighting bold climate action," said Charlotte Jameson, chief policy officer for the Michigan Environmental Council. "Fifty years ago, the extent of coal and oil's threats were just being realized. Twenty years ago, coal plants were still being proposed in-state. Now, a 100% clean energy future is in sight.”
The new climate laws will:
- Entirely power the state with clean, reliable energy within 17 years.
- Allow thousands more people to install solar panels on their property.
- Provide major energy savings, especially to those with low incomes.
- Make utility companies consider climate, equity, and affordability in their long-term energy planning.
A report in part by Environmental Council member group Evergreen Action shows the laws could help prevent a thousand pollution-related deaths, give thousands of people good-paying careers, and save families thousands of dollars with more reliable, efficient energy.
Jameson underscored the provisions of the laws that will make energy more affordable for Michiganders, especially those with low incomes.
“Our climate laws place affordability front and center as we transition to a clean energy future,” said Jameson. “They will continue to drive down energy waste, which already saves Michiganders over $4 for every $1 invested in such programs. And for the first time ever, low-income households are guaranteed to receive a significant portion of energy efficiency benefits. These programs will save them money and better protect them from air pollution."
Jameson said the Environmental Council and its 100 member organizations will now work to make sure the climate laws are properly implemented and the impact of compromises made to them are minimized. For example, methane gas plants with carbon capture, factory farms digesters, and one waste incinerator were given a clean energy label in the laws. Advocates will continue to fight to exclude or minimize the use of these problematic energy sources.
The work builds off of the Environmental Council decades-long commitment to climate resilience. Its advocacy helped create Michigan's renewable energy standard and a long-range energy planning process for utilities. It has saved residents millions of dollars on their electric bills through cases at the utility commission. It helped broker settlement agreements to make Consumers and DTE coal-free in 2025 and 2032, respectively. And it has raised awareness on the dangers of coal ash to our air and water.