Michigan Environmental Report

News from Michigan Environmental Council on public policies affecting the health of Michigan's people and environment

Gas taxes won’t help consumers or the climate, but other investments would

Gas prices are slowly dropping across the state and nation, as they have been for two months. That’s thanks to an increase in gasoline production, federal initiatives, and a cutback on driving.

It’s what economists call the “rocket and feather” effect. Gas prices shoot up quickly and fall slowly. Unlike a falling feather, though, the slow drop in gas costs is painful. Gas prices are still abnormally high. That in turn, is making the cost of many products, which are dependent on vehicles, to be abnormally high, too.

People have endured this expensive cost of living for too long. For some, it’s a frequent inconvenience. For others, it’s another dent in their already too-strained paychecks, a sacrifice of comfort.


A proposed railway merger would bring more air pollution to Detroit

Southwest Detroit is home to renowned public art, Mexicantown's famous restaurants and shops, and its proud neighborhoods. But amidst the cultural vibrancy hangs air pollution. Lots of it.

That's because Southwest Detroit is also home to dozens of industries, a sprawling oil refinery, several major highways, and a bridge to Canada. That creates a lot of vehicular and factory pollution. The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health concluded the pollution is sickening and even killing people, and that sickness and death has led to billions of dollars in lost economic revenue.

Unfortunately, the air pollution and its effects could soon get even worse if a merger between two railway companies is allowed. It's why the Michigan Environmental Council's vice chair Michael Dorsey and president and CEO Conan Smith filed a letter to the federal government to stop it.


2022 Milliken Award Winners: Anne & Tom Woiwode

Rogers City: A Lake Huron community known for its salmon fishing tournaments, its century-old state park, and one of the largest ports on the Great Lakes.

Midland: A community where the Chippewa and Tittawabassee rivers meet, known for its arboretum and its beautiful parks and bridges.

These cities' stories cross in what they lack: coal-fired power plants.

In 2007, Midland and Rogers City were two of eight sites where coal plant construction was scheduled. Fifteen years later, not a single facility has come to be. In fact, almost every Michigan coal plant is set to retire in just a few years.

How did so much good happen in so short a time?

Anne Woiwode, then Sierra Club Michigan Chapter's director, is the woman largely to thank.


Consumers will close all coal plants by 2025

A fossil fuel free Michigan is one step closer to reality.

The Michigan Public Service Commission—the state's energy utility regular—granted Consumers Energy—Michigan's largest utility company—permission to close all its coal plants by 2025 on June 23. This means Consumers Energy will retire all of its coal plants 15 years earlier than it had previously proposed—and it will be one of the first large utilities in the country to go coal-free.


2022 Petoskey Prize Winner: Diane Cheklich

Diane Cheklich, the 2022 Petoskey Prize winner and volunteer for Detroit AudubonIn the wildflower meadow of Callahan Park, you might see the royal gold and purple strut of a pheasant or the iridescence of an indigo bunting or hear a pee-a-wee of, fittingly, the eastern wood peewee.

You also might see Diane Cheklich. She might be on a bench or along the path that cuts through Callahan Park’s meadow. She might be taking photos of robins catching worms or monarchs on milkweed with her long lens camera. Or she might be showing other visitors around.


'Keep the UP wild' say 350 groups to lawmakers

More than 350 groups from the Upper Peninsula and across the state came together Wednesday to show the Michigan Senate how good protected, pristine nature could be for the UP's people, economy, and community.

Leading organizations of Keep the UP Wild—a group of environmental, religious, business, academic and community leaders—submitted written testimony Wednesday urging the Senate Natural Resources Committee to oppose Senate Resolution 150. Horst Schmidt, president of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition and key Keep the UP Wild leader, provided video testimony.


What's really to blame for Midwest energy shortages

There's been a lot of coverage on the potential that the Midwest could experience brownouts or blackouts this summer.

With it, a narrative is taking hold that the retirement of coal plants and the supposed "unreliability" of new renewable energy will mean utilities have less energy at hand when demand is at its peak, and that will force them to temporarily shut off power when the need gets too high.

But this narrative is false.


Consumers Energy settlement a milestone in climate action

A settlement agreement filed by a major Michigan utility company will be a critical step in combating the climate crisis, reducing coal plant pollution in air and water, and supporting green jobs.