New Michigan laws take aim at pollution, climate change

December 1, 2023

Several bills in Michigan that aim to reverse the effects of pollution, fight climate change and potentially help access billions of dollars in federal funding were signed into law this week.

The laws were designed to lower household utility costs, create jobs and protect Michigan’s air, water and public health, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. The new policies could help the state secure more than $7.8 billion for clean energy projects through the Inflation Reduction Act, which aims to curb inflation in part by investing into domestic energy production and promoting clean energy.

“Today’s bills will lower household utility costs by an average of $145 a year, create 160,000 good-paying jobs, and bring nearly $8 billion of federal tax dollars home to Michigan for clean energy projects,” Whitmer said.

Air pollution has long been a problem in the Great Lakes State, which has been taking steps to reverse that trend. The state has a goal of 100% carbon neutrality by 2040 and recently received a $3 million planning grant to advance its MI Healthy Climate plan and better compete for more grants.

Southwest Michigan – especially Detroit – has been documented as having some of the worst air pollution in the United States in recent studies. In a 2022 State of the Air report released by the American Lung Association, Detroit was ranked among the nation’s dirtiest cities as the 24th most polluted area of the country.

Particle pollution from vehicle exhaust and construction equipment for the southwest region of the state recently measured near the maximum threshold allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and would measure above the new guidelines the EPA proposed this year. Detroit received an “F” grade from the American Lung Association in 2022.

The state has been working to improve those trends.

Michigan now leads the Midwest in clean energy workers, with clean energy businesses adding more than 5,400 workers in 2022. Nearly 124,000 Michigan residents are working in clean energy, the governor’s office said.

Passing bills to help direct more federal dollars to Michigan is something that should only help further the economic benefits of developing a burgeoning clean energy industry, said Dr. Martin Kushler, senior fellow with the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

“Michigan is almost entirely dependent upon imports from other states and countries for all of the fossil fuels we consume,” Kushler said. “We import 100% of the coal, 92% of the natural gas, and 97% of the oil and petroleum products we use, which drains over $18 billion a year from the state economy. By increasing energy efficiency and Michigan-based renewable energy, this package of bills will reduce that financial drain and help keep those dollars here in Michigan.”

The new laws include:

  • Senate Bill 271, which establishes a 100% clean energy standard for Michigan by the year 2040. By 2040, Michigan will produce all its energy from clean sources. By 2030, Michigan will produce 50% of its energy from renewable sources and 60% from renewables by 2035.
  • Senate Bill 273, which improves energy efficiency and waste reduction programs to lower costs for families and small businesses. It will help Michiganders upgrade their homes to save money while ensuring access to reliable power.
  • Senate Bill 519, which establishes the Office of Worker and Community Economic Transition. The new office will work with workers and communities to ensure access to newly created clean energy jobs.
  • House Bill 5120 and House Bill 5121, which streamline permitting of utility-scale clean energy the same way it’s done for other sources of energy.

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Photo by Doug Zuba on Unsplash

Miles Smith

Miles Smith has more than two decades of communications experience in the public and private sectors, including several years of covering local governments for various daily and weekly print publications. His scope of work includes handling public relations for large private-sector corporations and managing public-facing communications for local governments.

Smith has recently joined the team as a content writer for SPI’s news publications, which include Texas Government Insider, Government Contracting Pipeline and its newest digital product, Government Market News, which launched in September 2023. He graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s in journalism.

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