Governor Snyder marries energy and environmental policy

28 Nov 2012

Today, Governor Snyder announced his Special Message on Energy and the Environment. True to his nature, he focused on strategic plans and smart decisionmaking with a long term view – something that I agree with.

The Governor focused on three “pillars” relating to energy: (1) reliability; (2) affordability; and (3) environmental protection.  Possibly to the chagrin of  some, he proposed a 2013 legislative dialogue to set goals for energy efficiency and renewable energy, certainly reviving hopes of the people who unsuccessfully  pushed Proposal 3 on the 2012 ballot.  He also bemoaned the lack of a federal energy strategy.

He didn’t discuss every one of the many points of his 19 page message but did talk about the following:

1. expanding the successful Michigan Saves program to help small businesses with energy efficiency;

2. figuring out how to expand development of Michigan’s natural gas resources  (he touted Michigan’s successful fracking practices) and announcing a partnership with UM’s Graham Sustainability Institute to work with industry and environmentalists to ensure that fracking is done safely; and

3. He discussed revamping and strengthening Michigan’s program’s to provide at-risk people maintain utility services.

As to environmental policy, he urged an ecosystem approach and he:

1.  proposed a strategic plan for all of Michigan’s publicly owned lands – building off his blue ribbon parks paneland including a plan for abandoned urban lands and pushed for better methods to aggregate and plan for them;

2. said it was time to resolve the conflict between urban farming and the Right to Farm Act;

3. announced that he was going to co-chair the Great Lakes Governor’s Council and would call a summit to discuss many issues including invasive species (both focusing on prevention and control) – this will likely be a thorny issue particularly in dealing with Illinois on the issue of Asian Carp;

4. asked for a proactive strategy for Michigan’s inland lakes and sustainable water usage; and

5. a surprise to me, he talked about improving recycling programs across the State.

There’s a lot more in there which we will be discussing in the future. But even treating energy and environmental issues as integrally related is a welcome new and dynamic approach.

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