To the editor:
The most important vote for Michigan's environment will be a yes vote on Proposal 3, the clean energy initiative.
In response to concerns (in a letter) from Diane Miller, there is no connection between the supporters of Proposal 3 and "25 x 25 Vision," a pro-biomass organization. Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs (www.mienergymijobs.com), the coalition supporting increased clean energy requirements for Michigan's electric utilities, includes the Michigan Nurses Association, the UAW, the NAACP, the National Wildlife Federation, more than 300 Michigan businesses, a large group of religious leaders and many others.
Proposal 3 gets support from these diverse groups because it moves Michigan toward cleaner sources of power critical for our future. 60% of Michigan's electricity is generated by coal-fired power plants, causing pollution, health impacts, mercury in Michigan's fish, while sending $1.7 billion out of state to buy coal extracted from mountain top removal and strip mining.
Utilities are deciding NOW to invest tens of billions in new coal plants in Rogers City and Holland, a nuclear plant on Lake Erie, and upgrading old coal plants to run for many more decades rather than retiring and replacing them with clean energy. By 2017 many existing coal plants will need to be upgraded to meet environmental requirements, or be shut down. When Michigan's utilities call for a delay in implementing increased clean energy requirements, they are arguing to keep Michigan tied to coal and other dirty sources of power, continuing to pollute the Great Lakes and block the growing clean energy industry in our state.
Environmentalists are not suspending our values in supporting Proposal 3. Sierra Club believes, as does Ms Miller, that the use of standing timber for any biomass or biofuels project is a bad idea. That's why we are challenging both the proposed biofuels refinery in Kinross and proposals to burn standing timber for renewable electric energy. Every energy proposal needs to be considered based on its environmental impacts, including siting, pollution, impacts on natural resources, etc. Sierra Club and our partners supporting Proposal 3 are already making that case and will continue with the implementation language for Proposal 3. But Michigan must make a giant leap forward in implementing smart, clean energy policies NOW or we will see massive, ill-advised investments in dirty energy that will continue to burden our children and grandchildren for their entire lifetimes.
State Director, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter