Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed two executive orders on Wednesday aimed at making Michigan carbon-neutral by 2050.
The first order creates an advisory council within the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) called the Council on Climate Solutions, which will be tasked with developing and implementing the MI Healthy Climate Plan. The second order creates EGLE’s Office of Environmental Justice Public Advocate, which will “ensure fairness for and representation from underserved communities,” the governor’s office said.
“The science is clear – climate change is directly impacting our public health, environment, our economy, and our families,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This dangerous reality is already causing harm throughout Michigan, with communities of color and low-income Michiganders suffering disproportionately, which is why I’m taking immediate action to protect our state. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to leave them a cleaner, safer and healthier world.
According to the orders, Michigan will aim to achieve a 28 percent reduction below 1990 levels in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.
“Michiganders have been on the front lines of environmental protection from the first Earth Day 50 years ago, and we continue to lead with these important steps to safeguard Michiganders and their natural resources,” said EGLE Director Liesl Clark in a statement. “…We’re excited to amplify and elevate the work of so many Michigan cities and towns taking vital steps to protect their residents and resources, while sharing in the benefits brought by clean energy industries.”
Some have questioned Whitmer’s gravitation toward reliance on solar and wind power, citing its history in California as a concern.
“Gov. Whitmer’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that she prefers to govern on her own without the input of the Legislature or the voters,” Jason Hayes, director of environmental policy for the Midland-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy, told The Detroit News. “Unfortunately, her 182nd executive order so far this year again demonstrates the problem of arbitrarily imposing policies without seeking input from those with other expertise. Her order will push Michigan to build far more unreliable energy, but rolling blackouts in California recently showed the danger of basing an electric grid on wind and solar.”
Whitmer said that the orders will place Michigan in a leadership position in fighting climate change, as well as create new jobs.
“Through comprehensive and aggressive steps, we will combat the climate crisis by formally setting and relentlessly pursuing a goal of statewide decarbonization by 2050,” Whitmer said. “These bold actions will provide critical protections for our environment, economy, and public health, now and for years to come. It will also position Michigan to attract a new generation of clean energy and energy efficiency jobs.”
– – –