Michigan Environmental Report
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.
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.
In 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.
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.
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.
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.
Whether from advocates, lawmakers or industry leaders, the message was the same at Tuesday evening's town hall: pointless restrictions on who can use solar energy must end.
Panelists of the event hosted by the Michigan Environmental Council and Michigan United each encouraged the passage of House Bill 4236. The bill, sponsored by 10 Republicans and three Democrats, would lift the cap on distributed generation. This would allow anyone to generate energy, like solar, on their business or property and get credit for any excess energy they send back to the grid.
This is big. Like, really big.
It's not often we get to celebrate a truly good environmental win. Sometimes good legislation is dead on arrival. Sometimes it stalls out as a new guard of politicians arrives. And sometimes good policy is paired with the ambivalent or bad.
But on March 30, Gov. Whitmer signed into law $2.5 billion in funding to better water, parks and communities, and it's almost wholly good news. It stems from earlier proposals by Gov. Whitmer and Republican Sen. Jon Bumstead, and it's supported by leadership from both political parties.