Michigan Environmental Report

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

Energy efficiency, electrification rooted in state building code recommendations

The Michigan Environmental Council and 30 organizations and municipalities outlined the ways Michigan buildings codes could save residents and businesses money and fight climate change in a letter of recommendations sent to the state.

In a letter to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, the coalition urged the inclusion of robust energy efficiency and electrification provisions in the update of Michigan's energy conservation code, which governs the process of constructing homes and businesses across the state.

After record parks turnout, Gov. Whitmer proposes more funding

On the heels of a record year for Michigan parks attendance due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced last week a proposal to spend an additional $150 million in American Rescue Plan funds to improve infrastructure at local parks across Michigan. The announcement is an addition to the $250 million Whitmer announced in June for upgrades to the state’s park system, which the Michigan Environmental Council also supported

The budget proposal, which requires approval from the state legislature, would create a grant program administered by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources that seeks to enhance the economies, health and recovery of local communities across the state.

How time-of-use electric rates protect low-income residents

At the start of the summer Consumers Energy rolled out new summer peak rates for all residential customers, one which the Michigan Environmental Council and others have long advocated for as they intervened in utility companies' rate and energy decisions. MEC wrote about those rates and why they are good for the environment and our wallets. 

These rates, called time-of-use rates, price energy usage a little higher when electricity consumption is at a peak and a little lower when it's not. Doing so reduces peak energy use, keeps dirty, old fossil fuel plants offline, and saves customers money.

Since then, MEC has gotten a new analysis from Douglas Jester at 5 Lakes Energy that shows the rates are a critical step towards ensuring energy is more affordable for low-income customers. (See pages 45 to 60 here.)

60+ Groups Unite to Keep the U.P. Wild

The Michigan Environmental Council joined more than 60 environmental, outdoor recreation, academic, political, religious and business organizations to give the Upper Peninsula of Michigan's wilderness the highest level of protection.

The Keep the U.P. Wild coalition is seeking federal Wilderness designation for four tracts of public land in the Upper Peninsula: the Trap Hills, the Ehlco Area, Norwich Plains, and an addition to the existing Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness area.

Consumers Energy commits to close all coal plants by 2025

On Thursday, Consumers Energy made its boldest commitment to date: it will retire its remaining five coal plants by 2025, 15 years ahead of schedule.

Consumers and environmental groups said the move would immediately decrease local air pollution, improve lung and heart health, and be a small but important step toward reducing global climate change.

'Troubled Water': a film of Great Lakes love, hope & action

It’s June 10, early morning. William Wright and Chris Yahanda wake up on a beach somewhere at Wilderness State Park. A few miles away, Lakes Huron and Michigan meet. They eat breakfast with the gulls and lapping waves.

Then, as the sunrise breaks, Wright and Yahanda break out their paddleboards. They wade into the water’s shallows, kneeling on their vessels as if in prayer. Then, once the sandbar drops, they stand and use long paddles to travel south, their feet a minnow’s height from the surface. Their friend, Davis Huber, films them from a boat.

It was the second day of these three friends' 425-mile journey from the Mackinac Bridge above Lake Michigan to, eventually, the Lansing shorelines of the Grand River.

Gov.'s $250 million park investment the 'booster shot' we need

On Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a massive, $250 million investment in state parks and outdoor recreation across Michigan. 

The budget proposal would direct funds to eliminate the massive backlog in state parks maintenance as more people than ever use them. The investment, in turn, would:

  • Strengthen Michigan's outdoor recreation economy, which provides 232,000 jobs across the state;
  • Help millions of residents and tourists alike make the most of the outdoors; and
  • Free up state funds (some of which regularly went toward state park maintenance) for local communities and organizations to invest in their own park projects

Consumers Energy summer rates a plus for residents, wallets & environment

In May, Consumers Energy rolled out a new summer rate for its residential customers. From June to September, Consumers residential customers will pay about 15 cents a kilowatt-hour between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 cents a kilowatt-hour at all other times. 

The change prompted some scary headlines like  “Consumers Energy electricity rate increases 50% during peak hours.” But the real story is this new summer rate – called a peak rate or time of use rate – is a proven strategy to help us save money on our utility bills and protect our environment. Here's how.